This reserve is a must do for us whenever we are in Mafikeng, a town not otherwise hugely renowned for its vibrant and burgeoning tourist industry.
The park is relatively small but is pretty well laid out with good dirt roads, friendly staff and a relaxed atmosphere. The Reserve is also inexpensive, a nice change in a country where the costs of everything seem to be spiralling northwards. It is also a fantastic place to sit on the back of a bakkie (pick-up truck) with a beer watching the sun start to set over the waterhole as the animals come down to drink.
The park hosts a number of buck species and we saw Kudu, Cape Buffalo, Blesbok, Eland, Gemsbok, Springbok, Impala and Black Wildebeest, to name a few. We also saw Giraffe and Zebra up close, as well as smaller mammals such as Warthog, Ground Squirrels and Slender Mongooses.
Birdlife is plentiful, with Ostriches, Glossy Starlings, Hooded Shrikes, Crimson-Breasted Shrikes, Weavers, to name but a few, all being present. There are also a number of raptor species such as Vultures, Goshawks, Kestrels and Kites in the Reserve.
The park has no large predators but it does have a large number of rhino (numbering 60 at the last count) for the area that would be even more impressive if poachers would kindly stop shooting these magnificent animals. Alas with the price of rhino horn being what it is, and ever increasing demand from China and the Middle East, I should think this is unlikely. However, in spite of this, we saw a number of white rhino up close (there are no black rhino in the park) and it is difficult to describe the sense of awe whenever you come into contact with them.
We had a wonderful afternoon in the park, so why did I give it 3 stars, rather than the 4 provided by the other reviewers?
Firstly, you never quite feel as if you are away from civilisation as there are buildings visible from most areas of the park. Secondly, thanks to the infinite wisdom of the local municipality, they are using sand and rocks from the game reserve to lay a new road in the area. Even though you can't see any of the damage, many of the animals in the park are as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs because of it and tend to stay far away from the tracks. Thirdly, the road layout makes it difficult to access many areas of the park. This in itself is not a bad thing but combined with the building work, means that the game tends to be far more reticent than it used to be in the past.
All in all, a great afternoon out in the bush if you happen to be in Mafikeng but not necessarily a travel destination in its own right.
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