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Trip report Mapungubwe-Punda-Tsendze-Phalaborwa

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18 Jun 2017 @ 11:52:02 am
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Good day All. This is a report on our recent trip.

Pretoria to Mapungubwe (Mazhou Camp): We left Pretoria at 0400 to miss all the traffic and proceeded along the N1 to the Ranch just outside Polokwane for breakfast at the Maxis. We then continued on the N1 to Musina for lunch at a "not so good" Spur. The Wimpy at the new Musina Mall is much better with safe parking. The N1 toll road to Musina is in a good condition with road construction around Polokwane. There are two Sasol filling stations between Pretoria and Musina on the N1 - one at Zebetiela (just before Polokwane) and one at Matoks (just before Musina) - both sell 10ppm diesel. We then drove along the R572 westbound to Mapungubwe entrance gate then on to Mazhou camp. The R572 was in good condition for most of the way with some stretches of unmarked bad pothole that required slowing to a walking pace. A bridge was being rebuilt requiring a detour through the dry riverbed. There is a small part of R521 from Alldays to Ponts Drift - with very bad potholes - we were advised that the whole of the R521 is in this state of disrepair. Total driving time was about 7 hours.

See Mazhou Camp resort rating - briefly it's a nice campsite and you may require about 3 full days to enjoy and explore this area. It is unique but not spectacular so I doubt we will be back very soon. Closest filling station is Musina so fuel planning maybe required. 

Mapungubwe to Punda Maria: We departed at sunrise and stopped at the Wimpy at the newly built Musina Mall for a good, clean and healthy breakfast. We then proceeded along the N1 southbound to the Matoks Sasol filling station - I carried an extra 20 liter jerry can of 10ppm just in case. We then proceeded eastbound along the R525 past Tshipise to the Pafuri Gate. This road was surprisingly in a very good condition and passed through very few villages so was very pleasant to drive. We then used the main road through the KNP to Punda Maria, arriving at about 1400 - just in time for a late lunch at the restaurant.

Punda Maria Camp and surrounding area is a disappointment - the campsite was crowded and the facilities were in bad state - the only good things were the restaurant and shop. Game viewing in the mopanie bushveld was also very disappointing. Considering the distance to travel from Pretoria and expenses we will not be visiting this camp again. 

Punda Maria to Tsendze: We travelled south on the main tar road stopping at Shingwedzi for coffee and toilet. We saw no game until we reached Shingwedzi. We then continued south to Mopani Camp to check in, then on to Tsendze Camp which is just 5 km south of Mopani. After setting up camp we proceeded back to Mopani for lunch at the restaurant.

Tsendze has no electricity but they do have gas plates and Zero gas freezers. We used our gas bottles for light and cooking - inside the caravan only has 220 volt so we used LED torches and lamps. We had two sets of ice blocks that we rotated between our caravan fridge (which was off) and their gas freezers - this seemed to work ok. We also had a medium size cooler box. The only problem we encountered was not being able to charge our phones - which we had to do while driving. This arrangement was better than R20 000 for a 12 volt fridge with all the extras needed to run it - I don't know why they stopped making gas fridges? They are much cheaper and easier to use. Game in this area is not abundant nor are the crowds found in the south. This is a nice camp with a good bushveld atmosphere so we will visit it again. 

Tsendze to Phalaborwa: This was our shortest drive which took about 2 hours - again we saw very little game. We stopped here to say hello to some friends and only spent 2 nights here. We did a morning and afternoon drive in the Phalaborwa gate area but saw very little game. The town its self was in a state of decay and roads were totally neglected. The protesters burnt the municipal offices down in last year's protests - no further comment required! The Resort was ok but not the same Forever Resort standard that campers are accustomed to. We had breakfast and supper cross the road at the Bushveld Terrace Hotel - food was good at a fair price.

Phalaborwa to Pretoria: We departed Phalaborwa at sunrise to try and miss the traffic between Namakgale but ended up in the middle of it. We drove the R71 through Gravelotte and Tzaneen to Polokwane then N1south to Pretoria. We had breakfast at the Ranch again and arrived back in Pretoria just after lunch and before the afternoon traffic. This drive is a very pleasant scenic one and the roads were in a good condition. I would suggest this route for those traveling between Pretoria and  middle KNP destinations.

 

Safe camping until next time.

 

18 Jun 2017 @ 16:29:16 pm
steamer
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Thanks for the report Pat.
Did you do the 4X4 trail at Mapungubwe? The 19km one near Mazou camp.
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18 Jun 2017 @ 17:19:02 pm
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Hi John - did not see 4x4 trail advertised. We did do a bit of driving around Mazhou but some of the roads were obstructed by fallen trees and others such as Den Straten was closed because of flood damage. We drove a bit on the eastern side as well.

Slower and lower is better than higher and faster!
19 Jun 2017 @ 11:04:45 am
Campervan
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Thanks for the feedback Pat...
On The Road Again
19 Jun 2017 @ 11:16:49 am
Andre Smit
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Good Morning Pat,

Any specific reason for the "the campsite was crowded".

Which dates were you there and any possible other reason for the crowds.??

We are planning our first ever visit to Punda in Sep and I am a bit concerned after your comments.

We were under the impression that Punda and Shingwedsi was rether quiet most of the year.

20 Jun 2017 @ 19:24:33 pm
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Hi Andre - we asked at reception and when we spoke to people that were frequent visitors, they all said it was the fullest they had ever seen the campsite. Maybe it was just the time we were there. Irrespective of how full it was we don't like the camp and area - just a personal thing - we prefer Shingwedzi and south of that.

best regards Pat

Slower and lower is better than higher and faster!
20 Jun 2017 @ 21:58:03 pm
Vicbay
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Punda usually the quiet camp, not as crowded as south which are always fully booked. My spot as you come in to the park, next to fence between those long thin trees.

3 years back on the road between Alldays and Swartwater, bad potholes, did a about 30 - 50 km/h. Stayed at Munala lodge outside Alldays, would not recommend, caravan site is actually contractor park.

Your post most informative, this is what we need.
22 Jun 2017 @ 19:51:07 pm
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Pat dankie vir terug voer wiltuin bly lekke
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03 Jul 2017 @ 20:54:04 pm
Meerkat
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Visited Mapungubwe between 11 and 15 June 2017. Polokwane, All Days and then to main gate. Road from All Days was terrible, especially after the Venetia Mine turn off. Mapungubwe is a 4x4 park. The main roads are terrible (corrugated) so you take the first turn-off you can. Then it's truly 4x4: rocks, water, sand and make your own path. Highly enjoyable but taxing. Den Staat road are straight from hell and never-ending. The camp (Mazhou) was beautiful and ablutions clean and neat. Monkeys a real problem. Lock up everything. Glad we visited, but wouldn't again.
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