Addo to Karoo – Magnificent Mountain Zebra National Park

Posted by Colleen Blaine on 18 June 2014

After a rainy night in Mountain Zebra National Park, Colleen Blaine shares a wonderful day spent enjoying the magnificence of the park and a cheetah tracking experience.

Dolerite stacks wet from the rain. Photo by Colleen Blaine

Dolerite stacks wet from the rain

Staying in the Umthombo Mountain Cottage in Mountain Zebra National Park time stands still and the world seems as though it has been put on hold. The previous night’s rain hangs in the thorn trees like diamonds on display and shimmers down the tall dolerite stacks that surround this remote corner of the park. Today’s alarm clock, the gushing of a nearby waterfall, is a little kinder on the senses and I am easily coaxed outside to photograph the morning light magnified in the rain drops.

Our morning ablutions are brisk, mainly due to the friendly “beware of lions” warning sign and I decided to shower with the door wide open to prevent any surprises. I certainly hope I didn’t scare any game away with my brief stint of exhibitionism.

Having arrived fairly late at the Park we packed up and headed out to explore the Kranskop Loop, taking us deeper into this magnificent section of the park so we could hang on to its magic for a couple more hours. We wound our way up into the remaining rain clouds and watched the beauty of the park unfold below us. The higher we climbed the greater our reluctance to return to civilisation but the promise of cheetah tracking lured us away from our mountains and down to Main Camp to meet up with the group. The well marked and graded roads make driving around a pleasure and an abundance of game, birds and views certainly add to the experience.

Feeling like intrepid explorers we bumped and jostled our way along back roads and into an adjacent valley following the muffled beeps of the ranger’s radio tracking equipment. Finding her was tricky but trekking on foot in any of our National Parks, is a treat never to be passed up on, especially when you can come within spitting distance of a magnificent cheetah in her natural environment. Once again time stood still as we quietly watched her panting in her shady spot, the sweltering heat of our hike and the maze of golden orb spider webs long forgotten.

It has been a long time since I felt this reluctant to leave somewhere but the grace and beauty of Mountain Zebra National Park captured my heart and I am certain to return as soon as possible, as often as possible. With that, onward we went as a sun-downer dinner at the Valley of Desolation held the promise of photographic opportunities galore.


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