It had been almost 3 years since my last visit to this magical Park. I had been looking forward to this visit since booking it 7 months earlier. It had been 6 days since the Springboks had won the Rugby World Cup, and I thought it was therefore very appropriate that the first animal I saw after driving through the gate was a Springbok. I thought – that is our champion animal! For the duration of my visit they would be all over the Park, as if to celebrate the win!Springbok

Soon after the Bokkies, I added my first new bird to my Park list – a Blue Korhaan.

At the turn off to the Ubejane Loop I was in two minds about going there first or checking in. I had some food in the car, so I headed to camp first. On the way I saw more World Champions!

Springbok Springbok

Check in was a breeze as always, and I was booked into unit 27 – one of the new chalets. This was the gorgeous view from my chalet.MZNP View

The groceries were quickly packed away, and I headed out. I made a quick stop at Doornhoek Dam. There were some kudus and baboons. Then I drove to the Ubejane Loop via Link Road.

MZNP ViewI have no words to describe how it felt to drive the very familiar roads. Despite the fact that it was still very dry, I was so thrilled to be back. When I looked out over the Park from the top of the mountain, all the stress and tension from the past few months just left my body.MZNP View

Yellow throated PetroniaI spotted a Yellow-throated Petronia – and for a change the little yellow throat was clearly visible! On Link Road I saw my first Mountain Zebras of the trip. There were also a few Blesbuck.

Mountain Zebra Blesbuck

A Black Backed Jackal was sniffing about near the waterhole, and in the process flushed a Double Banded Courser and an African Pipit. A small herd of Black Wildebeest was also nearby.

Black backed jackal Black Wildebeest

Ground squirrelAs I approached the windmill, I saw movement on the ground – a family of Ground squirrels with a couple of babies. They were extremely cute, but very nervous of the car.

Ground squirrelGround squirrel Ground squirrel

A couple of eland were grazing on the hill. There were also more Mountain Zebras. These photos are some of my favourite photos of the trip.Mountain Zebra

Mountain ZebraMountain Zebra

I also saw my fist Gemsbok and Red Hartebeest.

Gemsbok Red Hartebeest

The dam on the Ubejane loop was sill dry with just a small waterhole. There were a couple of ostriches and this pretty Sparrow-weaver.White-browed Sparrow-weaver

Before I got back to camp I saw Vervet Monkeys, Eland, more Springbokkies and Mountain Zebras.

Springbok SpringbokMountain Zebra

One of the highlights of the day was undoubtedly this mom and youngster. They were quite far away, and the light was terrible, but seeing these 2 made my day.Black RhinoBlack Rhino Black Rhino

I went for a short run before my braai. It was surprisingly chilly, so I did not spend much time outside. It had also been a long day (my flight to PE was at 06h00), but my first day in this special place was rather perfect.


I woke up on Saturday morning to a beautiful pink sunrise.MZNP Sunrise

RabbitI had booked to go on the Cheetah Walk, and therefore I was not rushing out. I went for a walk in the camp until it was time for us to leave. The first animal I saw was a fluffy bunny.

There were lots of birds around. I saw a Malachite Sunbird fly past. Lots of swifts swooped overhead, and on the ground a Karoo Scrub-robin was foraging.Karoo Scrub Robin

A Scaly-feathered Finch was enjoying the early morning sun.Scaly Feayhered Finch

I walked around to the restaurant and saw a pair of Red-billed Oxpeckers. This species was re-introduced to the area a few years ago, and small colonies have been forming all over. A real success story! Red Billed Oxpecker

Someone had left a plate and a tomato sauce bottle outside, and the local troop of Vervet Monkeys got hold of it. They are so naughty, but it was very entertaining to watch them get the tomato sauce out of the bottle!Vervet Monkey

Eventually some of them got some of the tomato sauce, It seems as if they really enjoyed it!Vervet MonkeyVervet Monkey Vervet Monkey

This monkey took his time enjoying the tomato sauce.Vervet Monkey

Vervet Monkey

Vervet Monkey

Soon everyone was on the truck and we were off to find a cheetah. The guide – Richard – soon picked up the signal. She was moving, and gave us a bit of a run around, but after a while Richard was comfortable that we were close enough to get out and walk. After about one kilometer Richard spotted her. She was walking, and then lay down under a bush. We approached quietly.

It is the second time that I did the cheetah walk, and as with the first time, I was speechless. She was completely relaxed  with our presence, and just lay there like a queen.  It is incredible to be this close to a wild cheetah on foot.

CheetahCheetah Cheetah

At one of the stops to check the signal, there was a Gemsbok and this gorgeous scenery.MZNP

Soon after returning to camp, I was out again. We found the cheetah quite close to the road on the Ubejane loop, and I thought I’d go and see if she was still around.

Soon after leaving camp I came across these guys having a dust bath.

Mountain Zebra Mountain Zebra

Mountain Zebras have this way of looking at you as if they have never seen a human before. Almost every zebra that was close to the car gave me this look.

Mountain Zebra Mountain Zebra

Just before the turn off to the Ubejaneloop I came across a couple of Bokkies under a Shepherd’s tree.Shephards tree

And there were a few young Springbokkies as well.Springbok


I have not seen a Rufous-eared Warbler in a long time, and I was therefore quite happy to spot this little one jumping around.Rufous eared Warbler

I did not find the cheetah, but I came across a Red Hartebeest. I also saw a Yellow-fronted Canary and a red-capped Lark.

Yellow Fronted Canary Red Capped Lark

I stopped at the dam again. There were a couple of zebras, and there’s that look, again.

Mountain Zebra Mountain Zebra

There were also a few Springbokkies grazing on what little green there was.Springbok

Springbok Springbok

I spent about 10 minutes at the dam before I drove on. But then I saw a gemsbok approaching. I turned around to go back to the little waterhole to get a photo.

Gemsbok Gemsbok

Turning around for this gemsbok was an excellent decision. While I was taking photos, Richard, the guide from the morning’s Cheetah Walk, stopped next to me and told me that the Cheetah had just made a kill just a few minutes ago, at about the spot where we had found her in the morning. I was off in a flash and found her quite easily.


She must have made the kill in the 10 minutes I spent at the dam, because she was still panting and had not started feeding yet. Once she dragged the Springbok into the shade, she lay down for a well-deserved rest.

CheetahCheetah Cheetah

GemsbokI spent a long time with her, until she started feeding. Eventually I felt like a snack myself and I headed back to camp, knowing I’d be back soon. On the way I saw another Gemsbok. And then another highlight of my trip. Just as I reached the tarred section of the main road, I saw two black shapes soaring overhead. I could not believe my eyes when I saw this pair of Verreaux’s Eagles!Verreauxs Eagle

This sighting was so unexpected and made an already great day even better!

Just before I got to camp, I had the strange feeling that I was being watched. Yes, it was “The Look” again!Mountain Zebra

Cape Bunting

It was quite warm, and I decided to have lunch at the chalet. I had some feathered visitors pop in. There was a Cape Bunting, Mountain Wheatear, African Red-eye Bulbul, Neddicky and Familiar Chat, to name a few.

Mountain Wheatear African Red eye Bulbul Neddicky Familiar Chat

I was soon back on my way to the cheetah. It was still warm, so there were only a few sightings on the way there.

Red Hartebeest Springbok

I found the cheetah in the same spot. She had dragged the springbok to the shade of another tree and continued feeding.


Cheetah Cheetah Cheetah Cheetah

I spent a long time with her. Eventually she seemed full and lay down for a little nap. I decided to drive up to the link Road.

I found a mom and a very small Red Hartebeest calf.

Red Hartebeest Red Hartebeest

I saw another gemsbok near the on the way. I looked towards the west and the weather looked promising. I prayed that the clouds would fall somewhere as the Eastern Cape was in desperate need of rain.MZNP View

There were a few more Mountain Zebras. I thought they made a pretty picture with the mountains in the back ground.Mountain ZebraMountain Zebra

Another favourite spot of mine is a little water hole at the top of the Mountain on the way to the Link Road. I spotted a number of little birds here – Red-headed Finches, Buntings, Cape Robin Chats, Pin-tailed Whydas, Pearl-breasted Swallows, and a not so little bird in the form of a curious Ostrich.Ostrich

I found the little Ground Squirrel family at the windmill again.Ground Squirrel

Ground Squirrel Ground Squirrel

The scenery is one of the best things about this Park. Even in these dry conditions, the views leave me speechless.

MZNP Scenery

MZNP Scenery

There were a few more sightings on Link Road.Black Wildebeest

Springbok Mountain Zebra

The Cheetah was still sleeping off her lunch, and she only lifted her head for a few moments before plopping down again.Cheetah

I saw another Rufous-eared Warbler.Rufous-eared Warbler

Further along the Ubejane loop I was just in time to see a small family of Meerkat.

Meerkat Meerkat

Cape VultureI stopped at the Doornhoek dam, and there were some eland. I arrived back at the chalet, and as I looked at the mountain, I saw an incredible sight. There were lots and lots of Cape Vultures soaring above the mountain. I counted at least 30 of them. The light was fading fast, but it was still an incredible sight to see.


I woke up to another exceptional morning in the Park.MZNP View

I saw another bunny rabbit – a different one to the one I previously saw.Rabbit

Today I was going to drive Kranskop loop. I first stopped at Doornhoek dam.  There were some Kudus and World Champions.

Kudu Springbok

DuikerA little further I was just in time to see a duiker disappear into the thick bush. This was the first time I’d seen one of these antelope in the Park. The light under the bushes was not great, but I had to take a record shot. I also only had time for one pic before he darted off.

I’d heard a couple of Red-chested Cuckoos call during the first few days, but I’d kind of accepted that I would not see these birds. All of a sudden a bird flew past my car and landed in a tree right next to the road, just behind my car! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I was thrilled to add this bird to my Park list!Red-chested Cuckoo

On the drive to the top of the Mountain I came across a couple of small herds of eland.

Eland Eland

The road to the top also netted a few more birds for my trip list – Sickle-winged Chat, Buff-streaked Chat and African Stone Chat.

Kranskop height

I will be honest and admit that I am always very conflicted when driving the Kranskop loop. There is a part of me that is terrified of this narrow roads as it winds it’s way to the top and a height higher than Johannesburg. But fortunately the part of me that is not terrified is the part that always  wins, because once you make it to the top …. how can you not be in awe of this breathtaking view?Kranskop view

Kranskop view

I enjoyed a leisurely coffee in the quiet on top of that Mountain. It was so peaceful and quiet, I could almost believe that the rest of the world did not exist.

And then when you start descending on the other side, the stunning views continue to amaze.MZNP ViewMZNP View


I decided to drive the Rooiplaats Loop. Not one of my favourite roads as I have not had many sightings there in the past. It was very quiet again. There were a couple of Bokkies, Blesbok and Black Wildebeest.SpringbokBlesbok Black Wildebeest

The animal sightings may have been few and far between but it did not matter as I was distracted by the view again.MZNP View

A movement between the stones caught my eye. It was a Spike-heeled lark scurrying about frantically.Spike heeled Lark

I soon found out why it was running about like that – there was a very demanding youngster waiting to be fed.Spike heeled Lark

The rest of the drive was quiet with only a handful of sightings.

Springbok Black Wildebeest

I stopped at my favourite waterhole. There were a couple of little birdies about, and they were soon joined by a herd of Mountain Zebras coming for a drink.Mountain Zebra

It was quite entertaining to watch them frolic in the water.Mountain ZebraMountain ZebraMountain Zebra Mountain Zebra

There were a few more zebras on the way to the Ubejane loop.

Mountain Zebra Mountain Zebra

There was also a handsome young kudu bull.Kudu

Then a lifer – an Eastern Clapper Lark. What a pretty little bird.Eastern Clapper Lark

Near the spot where I had seen the cheetah the day before I came across a handsome Pale Chanting Goshawk.Pale Chanting Goshawk

There were more Springbokkies, Ostriches and Mountain zebras on the way back to camp. But the highlight was a family of Double Banded Coursers.Double Banded CourserDouble Banded Courser

There was also the cutest little baby Ant-eating Chat. I just love that pose!Ant eating Chat

It was quite hot, so I decided to relax at the chalet for a couple of hours. Well, I tried to relax. But soon I was out for a walk around camp. The birds were out, and I was so happy to add a Southern Boubou to my trip list. I got this bird as a lifer in MZNP in 2014 but have not seen them in the Park since. Other birds included African Firefinch, Amethyst Sunbird, Acacia Pied Barbet, Southern Double Collared Sunbird and White-browed Sparrow-weavers.

Acacia Pied Barbet Southern Double Banded Sunbird White Browed Sparrow Weaver White Browed Sparrow Weaver

While I was walking I thought about snakes, thinking I should be careful as I did not want to step on anything scary. I did not come across any snakes, but I did see this agama.

Agama Agama

I was sitting in the chalet having lunch when I heard a Familiar Chat making a lot of noise on my patio. I went to have a look, and this is what I saw –

Puff Adder

It was such a beautiful animal! It was not bothered by my presence what so ever, and I followed it as it moved across my driveway to nearby bushes – keeping a safe distance obviously!

Puff Adder Puff Adder

Other visitors during my lunch included a pretty lizard and a cute little mouse.

Lizard Mouse

For my afternoon drive I only did a short drive – first Doornhoek Dam and then to the end of the tarred section of the main road.

On the way tot eh dam I heard Cardinal Woodpeckers calling, and soon spotted an adult feeding a fledgling.

Cardinal Woodpecker Cardinal Woodpecker

I found a herd of buffalo at the dam.Buffalo

BuffaloBuffalo  Buffalo Buffalo Buffalo

There were also a few eland.Eland

I quite like this pic of the tiny Wagtail next to the huge buffalo.Buffalo

On the tar road I saw some eland, gemsbok and kudus. But it was once again the World Champion Bokkies that decided to have their own parade.

Eland Gemsbok Kudu Springbok

They are really pretty animals, and looked really wonderful in the afternoon light.Springbok

Springbok Springbok Springbok Springbok

This one looked so relaxed!Springbok

And then there was this youngster that I named “Little Horn” How cute is he with those tiny horns just starting to show?Springbok


I went for one last morning run on the day that I was leaving this wonderful place. How does one say goodbye to something so beautiful?MZNP View


I was understandably in no rush to go anywhere, so I had coffee and breakfast at the chalet rather than in the Park somewhere. Some birdies came to say goodbye – a Red-winged Starling and child, Cape Bunting, and a Southern Boubou.Red winged Starling

Cape Bunting Southern Boubou

I heard a familiar bird call that seemed strangely out of place, but as I looked around, I had the unexpected surprise of a Long-billed Crombec! What a delight to ad this little one to my Park list!Long-billed Crombec

There was an Acacia Pied Barbet at reception when I went to drop off my keys.Acacia Pied Barbet

All the regulars came to say goodbye this morning.

Buffalo Mountain Zebra Red Hartebeest Springbok

Just before the Ubejane Loop I found a beautiful Pale Chanting Goshawk and a few Striped Swallows.

Pale Chanting Goshawk Greater Striped Swallow

A Ground Squirrel showed me it’s umbrella tail.

Ground Squirrel Ground Squirrel

In all my visits since 2012 I’ve seen Gemsbok, but always just one or two together, and not the large herds I saw in 2012. As I was on my way to my favourite waterhole, I saw this herd of Gemsbok – the most of these antelopes I’ve seen together in a long time.Gemsbok

There was a lot of activity at the waterhole. When I arrived, there were a few Springbokkies and baboons having a drink.Springbok

Baboon Springbok

They were soon joined by some Red Hartebeest and Mountain Zebras.Red Hartebeest

Mountain Zebra

They were soon joined by a few Eland.Eland


Eland Eland

Then the Gemsbok joined the party.Gemsbok Eland

Gemsbok are such majestic animals.Gemsbok

Gemsbok Gemsbok

Mountain ZebraBut all good things must sadly come to an end, and eventually I had to tear myself away and start making my way to the gate for the next part of my trip. Just before I left, I saw more Gemsbok and Mountain Zebras.


Soon I was on the last few kilometers to the gate. And it was appropriate again that the last animal I saw was the first animal I saw – a World Champion Springbokkie.

I missed out on some animals I had hoped to see, but I added more than 20 birds to my Park list. And even though I did not see everything I wanted, I still had an incredible time. My heart was breaking as I left, but I was also so grateful that I was able to spend a few therapeutic days in my paradise.

And my sadness was soon replaced by a new excitement as only a few hours away was another wonderful destination – Addo!

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