Track cheetahs at the Mountain Zebra National Park

Posted by Melanie van Zyl on 3 December 2018 Tags:, ,

Initially proclaimed to protect the Cape mountain zebra when just 11 of these animals were left, this park also offers the unique opportunity of seeing cheetahs ethically and respectfully in their natural environment. The beautiful hilly landscapes and sprawling plateaus, home to herds of plains game, are the ideal environment for these cats – the first big predators in the park, introduced just 10 years ago. Being the second-most endangered carnivore in SA (wild dogs are first), they require constant monitoring.

Cheetah Tracking in Mountain Zebra National Park. Image by Melanie van Zyl

In order to fund the costs, park authorities decided to open up these conservation efforts to the public. It all starts with a morning game drive (bonus: you’ll be taken into private parts of the reserve) and then the guide will try to pinpoint the position of the cat coalition. Once located, you’ll step out the vehicle to get closer to the cheetahs on foot.

Two of the six cheetahs resident in these hills are collared, allowing rangers to keep tabs on them. Image by Melanie van Zyl

Stay here

Tankwa Karoo

Usual rates at Tankwa Guesthouse are from R737 per person sharing. If visiting with a 4×4, Varschfontein Cottage, 45km from the park office, is gorgeously minimalist, plus there’s a spotted eagle owl or two in the palm trees and a reservoir for summer dips. From R737 for two (sleeps six). 0273411927, sanparks.org

Mountain Zebra

For a true Karoo stay, book the Guest House. A beautifully restored farmhouse with lovely antiques, it overlooks a dam – perfect for bird watchers and those who want to see buffalo. From R3 430 for four (sleeps six). 0488015700, sanparks.org