Category Archives: Mountain Zebra National Park

An unexpected trip to Mountain Zebra National Park

This Easter we planned to visit the kids in Plettenberg Bay. But our grandchildren needed to get to Queenstown for a very important Twenty-First Birthday celebration. So our daughter asked if we’d be prepared to help with the logistics of getting them there and back and perhaps include a trip to Mountain Zebra National Park. Absolutely no persuasion was needed! The only negative was that there were no caravan sites available at such short notice but we could get a family cottage for Saturday and Sunday night. This was probably just as well as Lauren would not have enjoyed sleeping in a tent in the very cold temperatures that hit over the weekend!

On Thursday morning we left Struisbaai and travelled in the pouring rain to Plettenberg Bay. We stopped at a Die Skeerhok Padstal just outside Heidelberg for breakfast.

The weather was cool and overcast but the rain had not yet reached Plett. Simon had just returned from a school camp and regaled us with wonderful stories of his adventures while our son-in-law fortified us with strong coffee and snacks. Our daughter Lauren and granddaughter Shan returned from school soon after that and there were hugs and delighted greetings as we had not seen them since Christmas. Lauren teaches Grade 2 and Shan is doing a learnership in the foundation phase and loving it.

After dinner, we had an early night as Shan was eager for us to get on the road before the crack of dawn. She planned to get to the game farm in Queenstown as early as possible to surprise her boyfriend whose birthday they were going to celebrate! Indeed we were all up before the sparrows and after a warming cup of coffee hit the road at 5 am. Lauren drove all the way giving The Earl a well-earned break after the stress of driving in inclement weather the day before. It rained most of the way to Queenstown too but Lauren handled the conditions superbly.

After breakfast and refuelling we made it to the farm by midday. Jordan was hugely delighted as he was only expecting Shan to arrive on Sunday. What a wonderful welcome we had from his parents who put Lauren, The Earl and me up for the night. Jordan’s maternal grandmother and paternal grandparents were there too and miraculously there was room for us all as well as some of Jordan’s friends. Everybody was super friendly and we had enormous fun.

The kids enjoying a delicious Mac Cheese and Venison Pie for lunch
They had two pet springbok on the farm – Rage and Gracie who is still a baby
The Earl was delighted to bottle feed Gracie

Etienne (Jordan’s dad) took Earl, Lauren, Granny Denise and me on a game drive. We were delighted to see a variety of animals including Sable antelope, waterbuck, blesbok, zebra and some lovely birds.

A beautiful Sable Antelope
Some curious waterbuck and blesbok

The drive included a scary ride up a steep mountain but the views were worth it.

Before dinner, the adults all sat around the kitchen table and played sevens while the kids socialized on the enclosed verandah. It was all wonderfully entertaining.

There was some hectic competition but Granny Denise, I think, won most of the games!

The weather was chilly but the warm and friendly company more than made up for it.

The next day Lauren, Earl and I left at around 8 o’clock and made our way to Mountain Zebra Park. Our early start meant that we could have two full days in the reserve and what a great time we had. We treated ourselves to having our meals (Brunch and Dinner) at the restaurant and the catering and service were excellent.

Here are the highlights of our visit.

Soon after entering, we found this Spotted Eagle-owl
Our cousins were everywhere and gave us a huge welcome.

We have visited the park several times but have never found the lions. Imagine our joy when we could show Lauren the male! He was trying to hide in the long grass but we still got good views of him. The females were nowhere to be found.

Please look at us Your Majesty
So you found me at last!

After greeting the lion we went to check in and have brunch. After that, we took a walk around the camp.

Too chilly for a swim but Lauren agreed that the pool was lovely

We had a brief rest and then went out again. In the distance, we saw an eagle on a rock. It then took off and we saw it land again. Luckily he did not fly away and we were able to drive right up to the spot.

Verreaux’s Eagle
Yes, it was cold but a leg stretch was necessary. Lauren protecting me from the lions!
Different from the Blue Wildebeest are these Black Wildebeest with their attractive white-tipped tails. Their horns are also a different shape
These two were having a confrontation
The Mountain Zebra were decorating the landscape.
A baby

The best part of MZNP is that there are wonderful views.

Lauren was dying to see Eland and on our last afternoon, she was delighted to get a few.

Eland
Zebra not wanting to be left out.

Over the two days, we very much enjoyed the birds.

Helmeted Guineafowl
Swarms of Red-billed Quelea were everywhere
Ant-eating Chat
Familiar Chat
Buff-streaked Chat
Acacia Pied Barbet
Common Ostrich
African Spoonbill
Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark
Female Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark

Our two-day visit was really awesome. We left on Easter Monday at 7 am, had breakfast at the farm and then drove all the way back to Plettenberg Bay. The kids had thoroughly enjoyed the Twenty-First celebrations. More relatives and friends had arrived and it was extremely festive.

Lauren and Earl shared the driving, we stopped at Colchester for lunch and arrived back at 6pm.

Earl and I left the following morning, met our sister-in-law and her kids for breakfast at Vic Bay, stopped in Bredasdorp to do a few chores and arrived home at 3 pm. What a great Easter Weekend.