The name "Mafojani" is a combination of the local name for the legendary Boabab tree (Muvhuyu) and Mafunyane which refers to the largest of the Big Seven elephants that wandered the Southern African plains some years ago. The Baobab is often described as the world's most unique tree and combines perfectly with an equally unique tusker.
The Baobab tree of which only one species is found in Africa, (5 more in Madagascar and Australia) forms an integral part of the history of this area. Many of the trees bear the scars of bark stripping inflicted by earlier tribes collecting material for medicinal purposes. The ages of larger specimens vary from 150 to 5000 years and many legends exist about them spontaneously combusting when they die. The scientific facts however are better described in Pelgrave's book which is available at the lodge.
Mafunyane or "The Irritable" was one of the last 7 formidable tuskers that roamed the Kruger National Park - the last one died only a few years ago. He had a large hole in his forehead, which was most likely inflicted during a fight with another elephant bull. There is a portrait of Mafunyane at the camp and a short text commemorating this epitome of our Ivory Giants.
Millions of years ago, as our ancient earth was sculptured by the hands of our Creator, a special set of circumstances led to the formation of the so-called Bushveld Igneous Complex. Billions of cubic meters of lava slowly bubbled to the surface forming a massive bulge which spanned the greater parts of South Africa. It became so massive that its weight made a gigantic depression on this part of our continent, similar to a round disk lying on top of a plastic pool cover.
In addition to this, the edges on the periphery of where the bulge lay, cracked and protruded upwards due to the more rigid upper layers of the earth's crust. This today, is called the escarpment and if South Africa could be cut in half from East to West, the profile would represent a saucer which has been turned upside down. The Soutpansberg which is visible in the distant South is the start of this rim that stretches in a half circle around South Africa right to Port Nolloth on the West Coast.
A four wheel drive vehicle accompanied by the Mafojani guide will await one in the mornings for a relaxing game drive. Buffalo or Giraffe always form the highlight of a game drive. Buffalo will probably be spotted every second or third day, whilst Giraffe can be see several times a day.
Kudu, Impala, Wildebeest and Gemsbok are more common, but the animals are unfamiliar with human presence. Sightings are therefore brief and not similar to those in the Kruger National Park where most animals have been habituated to a point of undisturbed calm.
Although Leopard, Cheetah and Wild dog have been spotted, it is rare to experience such sightings. The drives are always casual, drinks are available and one is free to disembark from the vehicle at any time. A braai (barbeque) in the bush can be added and knowledge of the Fauna & Flora which is so special to this area will happily be shared.
The Mopane Bushveld...
The Mopane veld only occurs north of the Soutpansberg and varies from shrub-like bushes to gigantic trees, of which the former are more dominant in the area. A few larger specimens can be found close to the meandering river beds, but the colossal examples however, are found in the Zambezi Valley to the north, where the Tsetse fly guarded these fertile soils against the agricultural ambitions of mankind.
Once or twice a year, depending on the annual rainfall, millions of Mopane moths descend on the butterfly-like leaves of this indigenous tree. Eggs are laid and shortly thereafter the famous Mopane worms hatch and virtually strip each and every individual tree of its foliage.
They burrow into the undergrowth, to once again emerge as the distinctive Mopane moth. It does not take long for the Mopane tree to resurrect itself with a brand new coat.
This time however, the leaves taste much sweeter than the previous set which is nature's way of providing the Bushveld inhabitants with a tastier winter reserve.
Mafojani's Bird Life...
So many giants and yet one more... the heaviest flying creature on our planet can be found right here, the Kori Bustard. If you are fortunate (they are spotted approximately one out of 10 game drives) one might view the cumbersome process of this feathered rarity, getting airborne - which is a truly spectacular sight!
The viewing of somewhat unspectacular birds can suddenly be broken by the appearance of the black, yellow and grey hornbill which is fairly common everywhere. Similar to the prize inhabitant of the Amazon rainforest (the Tukan) this species is treasured as own to the area.
A total of more than 200 different species occur here of which many are endemic. Enthusiastic birdwatchers have found Mafojani to be an unforgettable experience.