A breathtaking stretch of the open plains of Mokala National Park, 80km from Kimberley.

Mokala National Park, 80km from Kimberley, is the latest SA National Parks (SANParks) reserve. Officially proclaimed in 2007, Mokala is home to several rare animals and plants.

Set among hills, Mokala boasts koppie (hill) veld and large open plains.

Established to replace the Vaalbos National Park – the subject of a successful land claim – Mokala National Park was proclaimed, named and launched on June 19, 2007.

Once the heart of the alluvial diamond digging industry, the area’s large raptors and the rare yellow-breasted species of the crimson-breasted shrike are now what attract many visitors to the park.

At 28 151 hectares in area, the park teems with a variety of animals, such as buffalo, rhino, tsessebe, roan antelope, eland, red hartebeest, gemsbok and springbok, to mention a few.

Mokala is the Setswana name for the magnificent camel thorn (kameeldoring), a tree species typical of the arid western interior and common in the area.

The camel thorn tree is used as a resource by wildlife and humans. Some in the local communities use the gum and bark from the tree to treat coughs, colds and nosebleeds.

Mokala National Park is home to four identified vegetation units and two biomes, the savanna biome and the Nama-Karoo.

SANParks’ conservation objective is to conserve the interface between these two biomes.

The isolated dolerite hills infuse the place with a tranquillity and a feeling of seclusion.

Once you have passed the hills you are confronted by large open sandy plains with scattered pans towards the north and the west of the park.

A year after its proclamation, Mokala National Park was the winner in the Parks and Nature Reserves category for the 2008 Welcome Awards.

This is an awards programme organised by SA Tourism where the cream of the crop in the tourism industry are rewarded for brilliance, ingenuity and for offering visitors world-class and globally competitive services and experiences.

Mokala National Park offers guests a number of outdoor adventure activities, including traditional game drives.

Guided rock art engraving drives offer visitors a glimpse of the area’s cultural heritage.

You can also indulge in catch and release fly-fishing at the Riet River, said to be one of the best spots in the area.

River rafting is also on the menu at the Riet River, while families can relax at one of the park’s two picnic areas.

A number of accommodation facilities are available ranging from camping sites to self-catering units at the Lilydale Rest Camp and Mosu Lodge.

The Mosu Restaurant, operated by SANParks, has developed a reputation as being one of the best in the area. Many guests choose to drive out from Kimberley for lunch to sample the Mokala cuisine.

Mokala National Park will be dismantling the fence between the first established main section of Mokala and Lilydale today.

This initiative is part of the SANParks’ Expansion Programme that has been running since 2000.

Taking down the fence will allow animals such as buffalo to populate the Lilydale area and roam freely from the west to the east of the park. The park is being extended to preserve and protect the biodiversity and biomes in and around the park.

The expanded park will offer a diversity of vegetation types characteristic of this area of the Northern Cape, ranging from rocky koppie vegetation to acacia lowlands set on nutrient-rich clay soil or poorer Kalahari sands with scattered pans, through to the Riet River.

Visit the Mokala National Park for some peace, quiet and a divergence from the norm. The contrast will have you begging to return. – Pretoria News