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Mountain Zebra National Park

Mountain Zebra National Park located in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa is home to several exotic native animals, most notably its namesake. You see, in the early 1930s, the Cape Mountain Zebra was on the verge of extinction. To combat the problem, the National Parks Board of Trustees set up a preserve of about 17.12 square kilometers. At this time, the park had a total of five stallions and one mare and by 1950, all that remained were two of the original stallions. Thankfully, concerned neighbors Mr. H.L. Lombard and Paul Michau donated from their own stock, Lombard gave 11 in 1950 and Mr. Michau donated 6 in 1964. Over the years park space has been increased to accommodate the growing heard and is now approximately 284 square kilometers.

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The Animals

Today the park is home to several hundred Cape Mountain Zebra as well as several other native species. If you get a chance to visit the park, you may encounter any one of the following:hartmann-mountain-zebra-560228_1280

Cheetah

Lions may be majestic but Cheetah’s have to be one of the most elegant big cats in existence today. Long, lean and distinctively marked the cheetah has captured the hearts of people for generations. Built for speed with long, muscular but thin legs and an impressively long tail, cheetahs can reach speeds up to 70 miles per hour for short distances.

Bat Eared Fox

As the name suggests this is an animal with extremely large ears, up to five inches tall. The ears are quite useful for finding prey; they are sensitive enough to pick up the sounds of scratching underground! The bat eared fox is part of the canid family, which means they are least distantly related to your family dog. Unlike other carnivores, however, this fox has developed a taste for lizards, scorpions and other tasty bugs.

Aardwolf

Its name means earth wolf but it more closely resembles a civet or hyena. The aardwolf is another small carnivore of Africa that would rather snack on insects than take down big game. Most of the time, you will find this distinctive looking creature chowing down on termites late in the evening. Aardwolves are nocturnal and prefer to avoid the heat of the day in ground burrows, though during particularly cold winters they become diurnal, hunting during the day and conserving body heat in burrows by night.

Recent Additions

As of 2013, park officials made the decision to introduce lions to the neighborhood. One official stated it was a move governed by a need for more biodiversity and though the lions were not currently present, they would have been historically. A single lioness and two males were introduced late in 2013 and it is hoped they will do their part in the circle of life and keep the larger herbivore populations in check.

Come and Stay

If you relish the idea of hearing lions roar at night and long to get a peek at some of Africa’s wildlife, a weekend getaway at the park could be just the ticket. Currently there are several options for staying in the park, these include:

Campsites- Bring your tent or caravan and set up for an exotic weekend (or longer). There are 20 campsites total and each is equipped with electricity. You will also have access to a communal kitchen and bathrooms as well as laundry facilities. It is important to note, all campsites are a first come first serve basis.
Cottages- If camping is not really your thing, but you would still love to visit the park, there are cottages available for reservation. Choose between standard cottages or a mountain cottage, the latter is only accessible with appropriate vehicle.
Victorian Guest House- You and five of your closest friends can book accommodations at the Doornhoek Guest house, a restored Victorian that includes three bedrooms, in suite bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen and a scenic view overlooking Doornhoek Dam.

You will also find a fully licensed restaurant, swimming pool and several shops in the rest camp area. Planning a corporate get away? Mountain Zebra National park has facilities for that too! Conference room, reception building and available catering make this a fabulous place to take your team for a little rest and relaxation.

Game Drives

Are you ready to spot some wildlife? Game drives are available on a daily basis, though times will differ during the winter months. Park officials offer both morning and evening tours, giving guests the best chance to see a variety of animals who reside in the park. All participants must be at least 6 years old with a two-person minimum and nine person maximum.

If you have your own vehicle, you can also go on your very own self-guided game drive. All roads are gravel and in good condition for most vehicle types. You will find over 70 km of park roads to explore at your leisure.

Hiking

Are you up for a little challenge? Taking a hike to see the San Cave paintings is definitely worth the effort. There are also several guided hikes including a three-day park experience that takes you through grassland, mountain shrub land and mountain grassland. Midway of the three-day hike guests will be allowed to stay in the mountain cottages!

If you prefer to go it alone, there are a couple short walking trails within the fenced rest camp that you can explore.

Final Thoughts

Mountain Zebra National park has a lot to offer its visitors, but even more so to its residents. Thanks to conservation efforts, animals like the Mountain Zebra now have a second chance to rebuild their numbers. Whether you are an individual with a love for the great outdoors, a family looking for a unique weekend or a corporation searching for an exotic vacation, Mountain Zebra has something to offer.

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