Nestled approximately 80 km south-southwest of Kimberley, and to the west of the N12 freeway leading to Cape Town, lies the captivating Mokala National Park. This hidden gem is located just off the N12 en route to Hopetown, surrounded by the breathtaking koppieveld, which are isolated dolerite hills, and expansive, sandy plains that stretch to the north and west of the park.
Mokala National Park, although one of South Africa’s newest additions to its illustrious collection of national parks, has quickly earned a reputation as the sanctuary where endangered species roam. Established in 2007, this park is not only a haven for wildlife but also plays a crucial role in the breeding and re-allocation of animals to other national parks and game reserves.
Unlike many other parks in the country, Mokala National Park offers a unique experience with its absence of predators or ‘big’ game like elephants. However, this absence is what makes a visit to Mokala an opportunity for pure tranquility. The slow pace and fewer tourists ensure a peaceful escape, allowing you to immerse yourself in the untouched beauty of the park.
The landscapes of Mokala National Park blend the captivating characteristics of both the Karoo and the Kalahari. As you wander through the park, you’ll witness the hills giving birth to small tributaries that gracefully merge into the Riet River, painting a picturesque scene that will leave you in awe.
The park takes its name, Mokala, from the camel thorn tree (Acacia erioloba) locally known as ‘kameeldoring,’ which is abundant in this semi-desert region. The camel thorn tree can be found throughout the Northern Cape in various forms, ranging from a modest two-meter shrub to an impressive sixteen-meter tall tree. This resilient tree has served the local people for generations, with the bark and gum being used to treat coughs and colds. Even the seeds have been roasted and enjoyed as a coffee substitute. It’s not uncommon to witness giraffes delicately feeding on the thorny branches and leaves, showcasing the intricate balance of nature in this unique ecosystem.
Mokala National Park is home to a rich diversity of wildlife, where both the black and white rhino, Cape buffalo, tsessebe, roan, giraffe, eland, kudu, gemsbok, and black wildebeest roam freely. With the absence of predators, these magnificent creatures appear to be more at ease, creating a rare opportunity to observe their natural behavior up close. Although leopards are infrequent visitors to the park, lucky visitors have been fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of these elusive felines. Other fascinating inhabitants include jackals, caracals, aardwolves, bateared foxes, and even aardvarks, making every encounter in Mokala National Park an extraordinary wildlife encounter.
In addition to its remarkable wildlife, Mokala National Park offers an array of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. Embark on exhilarating mountain biking trails, embark on day walks through the wilderness, and experience the captivating beauty of a sunset or night drive. For a true African experience, indulge in a bush braai, where you can savor delicious traditional cuisine under the starlit sky, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Mokala National Park is also renowned for hosting the prestigious Mokala Rhino Classic Mountain Bike Race, attracting cycling enthusiasts from far and wide. The race not only showcases the park’s natural beauty but also raises awareness and funds for rhino conservation, highlighting the park’s commitment to preserving endangered species.
Popular Activities and Points Of Interest at Mokala National Park
Mokala National Park offers a wide range of activities and attractions that cater to the diverse interests of visitors. Whether you are a nature lover, an adventure enthusiast, or someone seeking tranquility, this remarkable destination has something for everyone.
Embark on exhilarating game drives through the park’s pristine landscapes, guided by experienced rangers who possess an intimate knowledge of the area. Traverse the park’s winding trails, where you can encounter a multitude of wildlife, including the iconic rhinos, giraffes, buffalo, antelopes, and an array of fascinating bird species. The absence of predators allows for a unique experience, as the animals roam freely and exhibit their natural behaviors in a relaxed manner.
For a more intimate and immersive experience, take part in guided bush walks. Accompanied by knowledgeable guides, these walks allow you to explore the finer details of the park’s flora and fauna. Learn about the intricacies of the ecosystem, identify animal tracks, and discover the hidden gems of Mokala National Park on foot.
Mokala National Park is a bird lover’s paradise, with over 200 recorded bird species gracing its skies. From majestic raptors soaring overhead to vibrant songbirds perched in the trees, the park offers ample opportunities for avid birdwatchers to spot and photograph a remarkable array of feathered beauties.
Thrill-seekers and cycling enthusiasts will find delight in the mountain biking trails that wind through the park’s diverse landscapes. Challenge yourself with exhilarating routes, taking in the breathtaking scenery as you pedal through the wilderness. The annual Mokala Rhino Classic Mountain Bike Race, held within the park, showcases both the natural beauty and the spirit of adventure that Mokala has to offer.
Numerous picnic spots are scattered throughout the park, allowing visitors to take a break and enjoy a leisurely meal surrounded by nature’s splendor. These designated areas provide the perfect opportunity to relax, savor delicious food, and bask in the serenity of the park’s tranquil atmosphere.
The Riet River, flowing through the park, offers a serene setting for fishing enthusiasts. Cast your line into its gentle waters and try your luck at catching a variety of fish species that call the river home. Fishing in this idyllic environment provides a peaceful and rewarding experience for both seasoned anglers and beginners.
Beyond the boundaries of Mokala National Park, there are additional attractions that can enhance your visit to the area. Just a short drive away, you’ll find Kimberley, the capital city of the Northern Cape. Explore the rich history of the region at the Kimberley Mine Museum, where you can learn about the diamond rush that once defined the area. Visit the Big Hole, an iconic landmark and one of the largest hand-dug excavation sites in the world.
Augrabies Falls National Park
If you’re willing to venture a bit farther, the magnificent Augrabies Falls National Park awaits you. Located approximately 400 km northwest of Mokala National Park, this natural wonder boasts the awe-inspiring Augrabies Falls, where the Orange River cascades down a series of dramatic cliffs. Experience the power and beauty of the falls while enjoying the park’s hiking trails and wildlife sightings.
Whether you choose to immerse yourself in the wonders of Mokala National Park or explore the nearby attractions, your visit promises to be a memorable one. From thrilling encounters with wildlife to serene moments amidst stunning landscapes, Mokala and its surroundings offer a tapestry of experiences that will leave you with a deep appreciation for the natural beauty of South Africa’s Northern Cape.
Mattanu Private Game Reserve
Experience the awe-inspiring wonders of the wildlife at Mattanu Private Game Reserve, located a mere 55km from Kimberley, through the exhilarating adventure of horseback safaris. These safaris offer a truly extraordinary way to explore the scenic landscapes and encounter the diverse wildlife of the Northern Cape. With over 30 different species of animals residing within the reserve, a horseback safari at Mattanu promises an unparalleled immersion into the captivating fauna and flora of the Green Kalahari region.
A horseback safari at Mattanu is not simply a ride through the bush; it is a transformative journey, enveloping you in the heart of the African wilderness and granting you a profound connection with the reserve’s wildlife. Whether you are a novice or an experienced rider, this experience will leave an indelible mark on your soul.
Unlike a typical safari, where you observe wildlife from the confines of a Land Cruiser, a horseback safari takes you off the beaten path, offering a greener and more intimate approach. As you ride through the untamed landscapes, you become an integral part of the ecosystem, sharing the rhythm of life with the animals that call the reserve home. It is an immersive encounter, where you witness their natural behaviors and become one with the remarkable circle of life.
At Mattanu, you have the opportunity to embark on a variety of horseback safari options to suit your preferences and time constraints. Choose a two-hour ride and savor a memorable picnic in the bush, where you can relax and indulge in a complimentary bottle of champagne. This enchanting experience allows you to fully embrace the serenity of nature while delighting in delectable treats. Priced at only R1250.00 per person, with a minimum of two persons per trip, it is an extraordinary value for an unforgettable adventure.
Alternatively, opt for a one-hour trip, followed by a delicious breakfast. Immerse yourself in the thrill of the ride and then satiate your appetite with a satisfying meal amidst the picturesque surroundings of the reserve. This option, priced at only R690 per person, provides a taste of the horseback safari experience for those with limited time.
Mattanu Private Game Reserve warmly welcomes riders of all levels, from beginners to advanced equestrians. The expert guides at the reserve ensure your safety and provide valuable insights into the wildlife and the surrounding ecosystem. With bookings being essential, it is recommended to secure your spot in advance, ensuring a seamless and unforgettable horseback safari.
As you embark on a horseback safari at Mattanu Private Game Reserve, be prepared to be captivated by the untamed beauty of the Northern Cape. From the rhythmic beat of hooves to the exhilaration of close encounters with wildlife, this extraordinary adventure promises to be an adrenaline rush like no other. Explore the wilderness, create lasting memories, and forge a deep connection with nature as you partake in this unforgettable equestrian expedition at Mattanu.
Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum
A visit to Mokala National Park offers not only a chance to explore the natural wonders of the Northern Cape but also the opportunity to discover the historical gems that lie nearby. Just a stone’s throw away, the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum stand as iconic attractions that delve into the rich mining heritage of Kimberley, captivating visitors with their remarkable stories.
The Big Hole, once a flat-topped hill, now stands as an awe-inspiring testament to human determination and industry. It is renowned as the largest hand-dug excavation in the world, measuring a staggering 215 meters deep, with a surface area spanning 17 hectares and a perimeter stretching 1.6 kilometers. With picks, shovels, and unwavering perseverance, miners unearthed 2,722 kilograms of diamonds from 22.5 million tons of excavated earth during its operation.
Today, the Big Hole is surrounded by a collection of original historic buildings, meticulously relocated from their original sites to create a captivating open-air museum. Immerse yourself in the rich history of diamond mining as you explore this extraordinary site.
The Underground Mine Experience
Step into a recreated mine shaft of the period and be transported back in time to the perilous conditions faced by miners in the 19th century. This immersive experience provides a firsthand glimpse into the challenging world of diamond extraction.
Watch a fascinating fifteen-minute film that introduces visitors to the captivating story of diamonds in Kimberley. Gain insights into the history, challenges, and triumphs of this precious gemstone.
Inside the Exhibition Centre, discover a treasure trove of photographs, archival materials, and original artifacts that chronicle the diamond story from the past to the present. Immerse yourself in the fascinating journey of diamonds, from their geological formation to their cultural significance.
Marvel at the old jigging machines and grease tables, specially designed to extract diamonds from the ore. These historical artifacts provide a glimpse into the intricate process of diamond recovery.
Real Diamond Display
Step into a secure vault and behold the largest uncut octahedron in the world, the renowned 616. This mesmerizing diamond, named for its impressive carat weight and size, is a testament to the exquisite beauty hidden within the earth.
Ascend to the new Viewing Platform and be mesmerized by the breathtaking panoramic view of the Big Hole. From this vantage point, you will gain a true sense of the remarkable scale and grandeur of this immense excavation.
The Old Town
Wander through the meticulously preserved or restored period buildings that comprise the Old Town. Each structure tells a unique tale, including a church constructed in Europe and shipped to Kimberley, Barney Barnato’s Boxing Academy, the Diggers’ Tavern, an authentic digger’s sleeping quarters, and the De Beers railway coach. These architectural gems offer a glimpse into the daily lives and struggles of those who shaped Kimberley’s mining history.
The Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum provide a captivating window into the past, allowing visitors to appreciate the triumphs and challenges faced by the pioneers of the diamond industry. As you delve into this fascinating world, you will gain a deeper understanding of the region’s rich heritage and the profound impact of mining on the growth and development of Kimberley.
Embrace the opportunity to explore both the natural wonders of Mokala National Park and the historical treasures of the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum. Your journey will be a tapestry woven with the threads of nature, adventure, and captivating stories from South Africa’s remarkable Northern Cape.
Treasures of the McGregor Museum
Nestled in the heart of Kimberley, a short distance from Mokala National Park, the McGregor Museum stands as a testament to the rich history and cultural heritage of the Northern Cape. Established on September 24, 1907, when the title deeds were handed over to the Management Committee, the museum has evolved into a captivating institution that continues to contribute to the ecological and historical knowledge of the region.
The McGregor Museum owes its existence to the generosity of Mrs. McGregor, the widow of Alexander McGregor, a former mayor of Kimberley. Her benevolent donation provided the necessary funds to establish the museum, which was officially named the Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum, affectionately known as “the McGregor” over the past century.
At its helm was Miss Maria Wilman, the museum’s first director from 1908 to 1947. A scholar who had studied Geology, Mineralogy, and Chemistry at Cambridge University, she possessed a keen interest in Botany and Archaeology, and her groundbreaking research in these fields contributed significantly to the museum’s early success.
Under the guidance of subsequent directors, the McGregor Museum has flourished, leaving an indelible mark on the ecological and historical landscape of the Northern Cape. Through extensive research, documentation, and preservation efforts, the museum has become a vital resource for understanding the region’s natural environment and cultural heritage.
Today, the McGregor Museum boasts a diverse array of exhibits and collections that showcase the rich tapestry of the Northern Cape’s past and present. Visitors can explore archaeological artifacts, geological specimens, historical photographs, and artworks that shed light on the region’s cultural diversity, geological formations, and significant historical events.
The museum’s commitment to education and research is evident in its various programs and initiatives. It hosts workshops, lectures, and seminars that foster a deeper understanding of the region’s ecology, history, and heritage. Visitors can engage with experts and scholars, immersing themselves in the wealth of knowledge that the McGregor Museum has to offer.
As you venture through the halls of the McGregor Museum, you will be transported through time, tracing the footsteps of those who have shaped the Northern Cape’s identity. The museum’s dedication to preserving and sharing the region’s heritage ensures that visitors leave with a profound appreciation for the cultural and natural wonders that abound in the area.
A visit to the McGregor Museum is an opportunity to delve into the rich history, diverse cultures, and scientific discoveries that have shaped the Northern Cape. It is a gateway to understanding the intricate web of connections between people, nature, and the land. Whether you are a history enthusiast, a lover of art and culture, or a curious explorer seeking to unravel the mysteries of the past, the McGregor Museum invites you to embark on a captivating journey through the captivating landscapes of knowledge and discovery.
Immerse yourself in the heritage of the Northern Cape, and let the McGregor Museum be your guide to unlocking the stories and treasures that lie within its walls.
William Humphreys Art Gallery
Nestled within the cultural hub of Kimberley’s Civic Centre, the William Humphreys Art Gallery beckons art enthusiasts and cultural aficionados alike. Since its grand opening in 1952, this prestigious gallery has garnered a reputation as one of South Africa’s finest art museums, housing an exceptional collection that spans centuries and continents.
Named in honor of its principal benefactor, William Benbow Humphreys, the gallery showcases a diverse range of artistic treasures. Stepping into its halls, visitors are greeted by a remarkable assemblage of 16th and 17th-century Dutch and Flemish Old Masters, alongside notable French and British paintings. The collection also boasts an array of antique furniture and captivating South African works of art, with several items donated by the esteemed William Humphreys himself.
While the William Humphreys Art Gallery prides itself on its extensive collection, it is more than just a repository of masterpieces. Embracing its role as a museum of art, the gallery actively engages with the community by offering a variety of educational and cultural activities. Temporary exhibitions feature prominently, providing a platform for both established and emerging artists to showcase their talent and share their perspectives.
Art workshops, specially designed for children, ignite their creativity and nurture their appreciation for the arts. Additionally, the gallery offers development stimulation classes for preschool children, empowering them to explore their artistic inclinations from an early age. Craft workshops cater to unemployed women, providing them with opportunities for skills development and empowerment.
The William Humphreys Art Gallery serves as a hub of knowledge and cultural exchange, offering an array of lectures, video shows, and concerts that enrich the artistic experience. Furthermore, the gallery boasts a successful outreach program, ensuring that the transformative power of art reaches even the smallest towns in the Northern Cape Province. Graphic exhibitions are taken to these communities, exposing students to the vibrant world of art and fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation for creative expression.
For those seeking a deeper understanding of the artworks on display, guided tours can be arranged upon request. Knowledgeable guides provide insightful commentary, shedding light on the historical and artistic significance of each piece. As visitors immerse themselves in the gallery’s captivating ambiance, they can take a moment to relax and rejuvenate at the Palette Tearoom. Open daily from 10:00 to 16:00, the tearoom offers a delightful selection of light meals and refreshments, providing the perfect interlude during an art-filled exploration.
The William Humphreys Art Gallery is more than a mere collection of paintings and sculptures; it is a sanctuary of creativity, imagination, and cultural exchange. It invites visitors to embark on a visual journey that spans centuries and continents, offering a glimpse into the vast and diverse world of art. Whether you are a seasoned art enthusiast, an aspiring artist, or simply someone seeking inspiration and cultural enrichment, the William Humphreys Art Gallery promises an enriching experience that celebrates the power of artistic expression.
Indulge your senses, expand your horizons, and immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of the William Humphreys Art Gallery—an oasis of artistic brilliance in the heart of Kimberley.
If you seek a tranquil retreat amidst untouched landscapes, Mokala National Park is a destination that promises an escape from the bustling world. With its unique blend of Karoo and Kalahari landscapes, abundant wildlife, and diverse activities, a visit to Mokala National Park is an invitation to immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of South Africa’s natural wonders.