About Southern Mopaneveld
Letaba Camp to Mozambique
Letaba to Mopani
Letaba to Olifants
Palaborwa Gate Area
Phalaborwa to Letaba
Phalaborwa to Mopani
See Kruger Park Olifants Area Self-drive Map
Elephant and buffalo are usually seen drinking at the river during the middle of the day while at least one pride of lions is active in the area.
Stop on the Letaba River Bridge for a leg-stretch and to study the river banks and look at the water birds. One is allowed out of one's vehicle on the demarcated zone on the bridge, which was completely engulfed during the 2000 floods.
The high-water mark of the floods has been signposted on both sides of the river and it is a wonder to imagine the volume of water that must have come downstream that fateful February. The strong smell at the bridge is from a colony of free-tail bats that nest in the girders. They are usually seen only at twilight and are often hunted by rarer raptors such as the bat hawk and Eurasian hobby.
From Letaba Bridge to Twisappel Water Hole, the H1-6 goes through alternating tree and shrub mopane with large pockets of grassland. Twisappel Water Hole has a large surrounding vlei. This is the ideal habitat for waterbuck. Twisappel usually retains water in winter and is one of the main sources of dry season water for elephant, buffalo and other game in the southern mopaneveld.
North of Twisappel, animal sightings become less common as the carrying capacity of the mopaneveld cannot support large herds of animals.
That is not to say one won't see anything interesting. Keep a sharp look out on the H1-6 in the vicinity of the turn-off to Giriyondo Border Post (H15) for small groups of tsessebe. This is probably the best place in Kruger to see these rather awkward-looking, hump-shouldered antelope.
Despite their ungainly posture, they are faster than any other antelope, and are capable of reaching speeds of over 100km/h over short distances. They are shy animals sometimes found in association with the zebra and wildebeest that are regularly seen along this road.
Another rare animal to look out for in this area is the roan antelope. It appears to be restricted to the eastern mopaneveld, whereas its 'cousin', the sable, is found more in the west. There are often scattered herds of roan north of the Letaba River, where they seek out the taller grasses in lightly wooded savanna.
White rhinos are, of course, not white at all but are so called because of the misinterpretation of the Dutch word for "wide" which was used to describe the lip of the grazing variety of rhino. White rhino are usually associated with southern Kruger. However, a small population of these great grey grazers has also been established in the north, after a core group of 12 was released here during the 1960s. The highest concentration of white rhino in the mopaneveld is to be found in the flatlands between the Tsendze and Shingwedzi rivers.South of Mopani, one can see the escarpment to the west (and the landmark hill of Masorini near Phalaborwa Gate), the Lebombo to the east and the Olifants Gorge in the Lebombo Mountains to the south-east. The Confluence is a scenic viewpoint along the Tsendze, while Mooiplaas Picnic Spot is a welcome refreshment stop well shaded by apple-leaf trees. Cold drinks and firewood are for sale and gas braais may be hired at the site, which has toilet facilities.