Rich in history and rare animals

MY only gripe after an informative and thrilling game drive in the Mokala National Park in Northern Cape was that no venison was served at dinner.

The sight of so many warthogs, with their upright tails, running around during the two-hour drive, gave me the impression that our hosts were preparing something special for us to eat later.

Even the jumping impalas and the sprinting springboks had my head spinning, thinking that this was just a teaser.

Okay, I know this is a park where the endangered species roam around freely, but even an official admitted that because of the size of the park they from time to time have to cull some animals because of space.

But otherwise, if you are into rare animals and cultural and natural biodiversity, then this is the place to be.

This is also home to the temperamental black and rare white rhino. We unfortunately did not spot any. Personally, I was disappointed not to have seen buffalo either.

You can almost smell the peace and tranquility as you arrive at the Mosu Lodge, which also serves as a reception area for the park.

The sunset is awesome in this area.

The camp boasts five luxury double en-suite units and 13 single en-suite units. The self-catering units all have microwaves, two-plate stoves, crockery and cutlery.

There is also a bar, restaurant and lounge with a fireplace.

We were invited by the province for the Tourism Month celebrations.

There are not many activities here but a sighting of a rare species is a highlight. The bush breakfasts and evening braais are special too.

This area was once home to the San, so as we drove through the park we saw the remains of a San village. There are many paintings and engravings to admire too.

A keystone species here is the camel thorn tree, mokala in Setswana, which the park is named after. The tree provides nesting sites, food and shade for the animals. It also produces the best firewood, we were told.

"The Kruger National Park might have the big five, but we have the rare five," an official boasted.

And for those who prefer a bit of sweating, Lilydale Rest Camp, which is part of the park and is perched on the Riet River, is another option. Here, there is river rafting and fly fishing.

The camp is a new addition to the park and has 12 self-catering units. Visitors can also choose two to five-sleeper units. All units and the restaurant deck overlook the river.

About 70km away from the park is the province's capital, Kimberley. We were told that it was the first city in the country and third city in the world to introduce street lights.

The main attraction here has to be the Big Hole, the biggest man made hole in the universe. This is where Cecil John Rhodes, once chairman of the giant mining company De Beers, used to operate from during the diamond rush in this city.

The area around the Big Hole has undergone a major revamp and the original old buildings have been beautifully preserved. You could spend an entire day admiring the old shops, houses and items of a time gone by.

And if you are into birds, just two kilometres out of town is Kamfers Dam, which is home to thousands of flamingos.

I am not into birds myself, but these birds are a lovely sight, though it appeared to me as if they spend most of their time feeding.

It is such a pity you cannot get close to them.

The authorities have had to create an island adjacent to the dam so they can breed. Apparently they are too fussy to breed just anywhere. Before the creation of the island, the flamingos flew as far as Tanzania to breed. They have since produced a record 11000 chicks.