African eco safaris - Zimbabwe - The Area

Sentinel Limpopo Eco Safaris welcomes you!

What? African Eco Tourism/Photographic Safaris and Adventures for the whole family! For the ultimate in African photographic safaris, Sentinel Limpopo Eco Safaris offers a family adventure holiday in one of the most beautiful safari areas available to southern African eco-tourism.

Where? We are based on Sentinel Ranch on the northern bank of the Limpopo River in south western Zimbabwe - a pristine, unfenced wilderness area covering 81,000 acres (32,000ha) of diverse habitats and rich fauna and flora. This remarkably beautiful landscape includes stunning red-and-gold sandstone hills, 17km of Limpopo River frontage with thick riparian woodlands of enormous sycamore figs, nyalaberry and fever trees; vast savannah and scrub plains interspersed with ubiquitous and statuesque baobabs; wooded streams emanating from natural springs where antelope quench their thirst; mopani and acacia woodlands – all home to a myriad of African animals from great lumbering elephants and exquisite leopard and cheetah to proud, elegant kudu and delicately tip-toeing, cliff-clinging klipspringers.     

Climate:

Summer - The Central Limpopo Valley is in a summer rainfall area, and at 500m above sea level, experiences hot and sometimes humid summers with temperatures ranging from 18-45˚C during the day. Hot as it is at this time of year, this is when the land is dressed in its finest: cloaked in myriad shades of green with a breathtaking array of wild flowers, teeming with game and birdlife most abundant. Glistening rock pools, flowing streams and even a beautiful, deep swimming pool overlooking the Limpopo River offer delicious respite from the heat when a refreshing, spontaneous dip is desired! Though considered semi arid because of the low average rainfall it receives annually (300mm, or 12 inches), summers here are verdant and rich as the water-sensitive vegetation responds to every drop. The Limpopo River catchments to the north and south ensure a strong annual flow down the otherwise large, sandy swathe of the Limpopo riverbed, and this flow is the lifeblood of the Valley. Afternoon thunderstorms are breathtaking and dramatic, and the enormous skies offer majestic and unforgettable sunsets and crystal clear, billion-star views of the Milky Way. (We are in a malaria area, so it is advisable to take prophylactics, especially during the warmer months).

Winter - May, June, July and August are, in contrast, dry and temperate, with clear, halcyon days and cool, crisp nights. Temperatures range from 2-26˚C at this time of year. Though unseasonal, rain is not unheard of at this time, so a good, warm waterproof jacket and woollies would not go amiss on your packing list. A popular time to visit Africa because of Northern hemisphere summer vacations, it is our busiest season, and bookings must be made well in advance.

Why are we special?

  • Sentinel Ranch is prime-positioned for inclusion in the proposed Peace Parks Foundation initiative, the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area spanning the confluence area of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers shared by Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. When the TFCA is officially promulgated, it is hoped that Sentinel will be designated as part of the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Park because of its abundant wildlife and unparalleled geological beauty.

  • It is directly across the Limpopo River from the Mapungubwe National Park in South Africa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of great southern African cultural, historical and archaeological importance, and it is hoped that the World Heritage Site status will be extended to Sentinel once the GM-TFCA is officially established. There are numerous Mapungubwe Kingdom associated archaeological sites on Sentinel Ranch, among others, deserving UNESCO protection.

  • Secreted away in shelters and overhangs in Sentinel’s sandstone hills are many San, !Kung and Late White (Bantu) rock art sites of cultural ceremonial significance.

  • Sentinel is bursting with fossil dinosaur sites dating back 240-210 million years (when the African, Indian and South American continents were still joined together as the super-continent, Gondwanaland). One fossil site in particular is considered of huge palaeontological importance in the southern African fossil record.

  • We support the Tour de Tuli Mountain bike event that takes place anually in the Greater Mapungubwe TFCA area.  Funds raised by the event, organised by Children in the Wilderness, go toward their conservation and environmental education programmes for rural children in 7 African countries to inspire them to care for the wildlife around them.

  • We are active supporters of MAG - the Mapungubwe Action Group - dedicated to saving the Mapungubwe cultural landscape from industrial development and mining.  Please look for Save Mapungubwe on Facebook  to see why it is essential that we protect one of our last wilderness areas from the degradation that will come with the development of the Vele Coal Mine on the bank of the Limpopo River In South Africa. This mine will be a few hundred meters from the Zimbabwean component of the Greater Mapungubwe TFCA, and only 7 km from the Mapungubwe National Park where the first South African kingdom was established 700 years ago.

  • Sentinel neighbours three Communal Lands to the north and west: Maramani, Masera and Machatuta. A visit to the local communities and schools with Digby, who speaks Venda fluently, is educational and  a great way to appreciate true African hospitality and warmth - it is well worth the 40km round-trip!

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