Mountain Zebra National Park

Eastern Cape

This underrated national park, 12km west of Cradock, is on the northern slopes of the Bankberg Range (2000m), covers 280 sq km and has superb views over the Karoo. The park protects one of the rarest animals in the world: the mountain zebra (Equus zebra). Mountain zebras, of which there are now over 800 in the park, are distinguished from other zebra species by their small stature, reddish-brown nose and dewlap (a loose fold of skin hanging beneath the throat).

The park also supports many antelope species and buffaloes. A small number of lions was reintroduced in 2013 and there are also cheetahs, genets, bat-eared foxes and seldom-seen brown hyenas. White rhinos have been reintroduced and some 200 bird species have been recorded. Among the silence and wide-open spaces, thick patches of sweet thorn and wild olive are interspersed with rolling grasslands and succulents. There are hiking trails, guided wildlife drives and the rightfully popular cheetah-tracking walks.

The entrance gate is well signposted off R61. It’s quite feasible to get a taste of the park in a half-day excursion from Cradock. Roads are mostly gravel but of good standard and suitable for all vehicles. You’ll find a shop and restaurant in the main camp.

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