Mokala isn’t the kind of park where you’ll be inundated with leopards and lions. It’s a place to slow down and appreciate quieter sightings of rare game like sable antelope, roan antelope and bat-eared fox. Get to the park early and enter at the Lilydale gate, about 50 km from Kimberley. Just before you reach Lilydale rest camp, a road turns off left to a viewpoint. Stand on the deck and look out over the grassland. Pour yourself a cup of coffee because there’s a good chance a rare antelope or a herd of buffalo will stroll into the scene.
Now that your game-spotting eyes are warmed up, drive the Vaalbos route around the plain you were just looking at. The Vaalbos trail eventually joins up with the main route between Lilydale and Mosu -another rest camp. Slowly work your way west along this main route and stop at every waterhole along the way. Red hartebeest, tsessebe, gemsbok and warthog often come to quench their thirst. It’s almost time for lunch and the shade of a camel thorn tree is calling. Turn right onto the Kameeldoring route in the middle of the park and drive to the Kameeldoring picnic site. Light a fire and throw some chops on the grid. It’s National Braai Day this month, after all! The picnic site has bathrooms.
No one is in the mood for game viewing in the middle of the day so rather head to the Stofdam hide about 6 km south of the picnic site, where you can relax for a while. You should see kudu on the road from Stofdam to the Matopi route, also eland and giraffe. Drive the Matopi route first, then retrace your steps and turn off onto the Tsessebe route. The light should be more kind by now and the Tsessebe route goes through the most scenic part of the park, with views of red sandveld and camel thorn trees. Look for gemsbok, wildebeest and giraffe, and listen for the call of a korhaan. The Mosu gate is nearby and you only have to leave the park by 6 pm.
How to get there? Mokala is about 50 km south-west of Kimberley via the N12.
Gate times: 7 am to 6 pm.