Tag 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.

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.

Gecko #81 on the Road Again – Mountain Zebra National Park

After our wonderful three days in Addo, we moved on to Mountain Zebra National Park near Cradock in The Eastern Cape.   En Route we stopped at a farm stall in the middle of nowhere just off the N10.  I just love finding these hidden gems and Daggaboer Padstal was indeed unique.   We were greeted at the door by our hostess who offered us a thimble of ginger beer or lemonade to taste.  I had the ginger beer and The Earl the lemonade and both were delicious – homemade of course. Inside was a feast for the eyes and there were a variety of goodies from rusks to crafts for sale

Breakfast was a wholesome fried egg, bacon, boerewors and tomato served with roostekoek of course. The coffee would do any Boer (farmer) proud!  It was percolated and had to be poured through a sieve. For my non-South African readers – roosterkoek is a ball of bread dough cooked on a grid over hot coals. It is often served with a braai/BBQ but is also often served in restaurants as an alternative toast.


An interesting Padstal (Farm Stall)


A wholesome Boere Breakfast – I declined the roosterkoek

Our three days at Mountain Zebra were lovely.   This park was established in 1937 with the prime focus being to protect the endangered Mountain Zebras.  Many of the other parks both Sanparks and private obtained their mountain zebras from this park.  Mountain Zebra Park is also the most significant contributor of The Cheetah Metapopulation Project and many of their cheetahs have been relocated to other parks in the country.

We did not see any cats during our stay in the park but what we really enjoyed was the magnificent scenery in this mountainous reserve.  The first day was hot but after that we enjoyed sunny but very cold days!  Early mornings and nights were down to 5 degrees C!


Camp on Day 1 – Nice and warm


Note the mountain zebra


A tree growing out of rock – HOW?


Dry but beautiful


The roads were very steep in some parts


At a lookout point – The Earl took a picture of me taking a picture of him


My picture of him taking a picture of me taking a picture of him

On Thursday we drove the most hectic of the 4X4 trails.  We only read the description later – “Umgeni is  the most challenging of the 4X4 trails -It can either provide a lot of excitement or induce premature aging!”  It did both for us! At one point The Earl had to get out of the car to remove a particularly large rock from the road!  His choice was to risk being eaten by a predator or destroying his car!  Luckily there wasn’t an animal in sight.

During our three day stay, we enjoyed seeing a variety of game and birds.


Brown-hooded kingfisher


Acacia Pied Barbet


Gemsbok (Oryx)


Kudu female – Saw lots of males too


Familiar Chat


Cape Rock Thrush


Ground Squirrel


Double-banded courser


Vervet Monkey


Black Wildebeest – different to the Blue Wildebeest seen in Kruger and other parks – Note the white tails


Red-billed ox-peckers giving an Eland a spa treatment




Pale-chanting Goshawk – only raptor we saw


Mountain Zebra


Dark-capped bulbul


A herd of Black wildebeest (Gnus)


Large-billed lark


Our national animal – Springbok


Spike-heeled Lark


Scaly-feathered finch


Golden-breasted bunting



Southern Boubou inviting himself into the caravan



Then asking The Earl for a snack


This naughty monkey stole an egg from my box and then went to wash in the puddle next to the caravan! One has to be constantly on guard when camping in the wild!

Our most exciting experience was spotting three rhinos while on a lonely drive and no other cars were there to share the sighting with us.



Black Rhino


Mom and baby

A little while later we were also the only car to see a fourth rhino on his own.  When he caught sight of us he made a mock charge and then thought we weren’t worth the effort and ran off into the bush.









Cee’s Black and White Challenge – Candid

Today I took some candid photos suited to today’s challenge from Cee


Ground squirrel in Mountain Zebra National Park – we stared at them so they stared back!


Cheeky Vervet Monkey – taking a drink from a rocky puddle in front of our caravan.


Southern Boubou – not too shy to invite himself into our caravan/trailer


Then he hopped onto our picnic table


Short-sighted black rhino eyeballing these strange creatures in a tin can on wheels.