By Vicky · Published Sep. 30th, 2022 · Updated Nov. 24th, 2022
Mountain Zebra National Park is a stunningly beautiful safari park in the Eastern Cape of South Africa with cheetahs, lions, buffalos and more.
Mountain Zebra National Park is near Cradock in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. There’s no public transport so you have to drive.
Cape Town to Mountain Zebra National Park
It’s about 800 km and nine hours drive from Cape Town to Mountain Zebra. The quickest route follows Highway 1 then turns off east in Beaufort West (near Karoo National Park). Alternatively, it’s only slightly longer to drive through the Klein Karoo via Barrydale and Oudtshoorn. If you need a good road map for this trip, see our recommendations.
Addo Elephant Park to Mountain Zebra National Park
From Addo Elephant Park it’s a roughly 2hrs30 drive to the entrance of Mountain Zebra. The route is mainly along highway 10, which traverses nice scenery.
Graaf Reinet & Camdeboo to Mountain Zebra
Graaf Reinet & Camdeboo National Park are just over one hour east of Mountain Zebra, making it a great place to visit before or after.
Mountain Zebra National Park Map
Tips for Mountain Zebra
- Mountain Zebra entrance fees are R60/R30 for South Africans and R240/R120 for foreigners per adult/child per day. If you stay one night in the park, you only pay the entrance fee for one day but get to stay for two. Entrance to the park is free with a WildCard.
- The park’s main gate and reception are open 7am to 7pm in Oct-Mar and 7am-6pm in Apr-Sep.
- The gate from the rest camp to the safari area is open from 6am to 7pm in Oct-Mar and 7am to 6pm in Apr-Sep.
- Bring binoculars* and a wildlife guide*.
- If you’re staying inside the park, bring a headlamp* as lighting is limited.
- South African holidays and weekends see many more visitors, while during the week out of season it is fairly quiet.
- Mountain Zebra Rest Camp contact details: +27 (0)48 801 5700 / 5701, [email protected] or [email protected]
- For more fun guides and hikes, check our South Africa page.
Things to do in Mountain Zebra National Park
What can you do in Mountain Zebra National Park?
- Go on a Self-drive Safari
- Take a Guided Game Drive
- See the San Cave Paintings
- Go Cheetah Tracking
- Take a Hike
- Drive the 4×4 Trails
1. Go on a Self-Drive Safari
Most people visit Mountain Zebra National Park to go on a self-drive safari. The main game-loop roads are all in decent condition so can be driven in a normal car, though in places there are a few corrugations.
The gate from the rest camp to the safari area is open from 6am to 7pm in Oct-Mar (summer) and 7am to 6pm in Apr-Sep (winter). This is slightly different from the main gate to the park, which always opens at 7am. This means if you stay within the park, in summer you can start your game drive an hour earlier than those staying outside.
Game Drive Loops
There are three main game drive loops within the park.
The Rooiplaat Loop is best for animals, especially antelope, and you’ll see herds of springbok, hartebeest, wildebeest and mountain zebras grazing on the plateau.
The Kranskop Loop is best for scenery and you’ll have amazing views of the surrounding arid mountains and nearby rock formations. Keep a lookout for mountain reedbuck, grey rhebok and klipspringers here.
The Umbejane Loop is a flat loop through grass and bush and is good for smaller carnivores such as caracals, foxes and aardwolf, and perhaps also the cheetahs.
There are two picnic sites within the park, Fonteinkloof and Weltevrede. Both picnic sites have picnic tables, braai stands and ablutions. Fonteinkloof is mainly designed for day visitors as it’s quite close to the park rest camp and has a swimming pool that day visitors can use (the pool at the rest camp is only for overnight guests). Weltevrede is on the Kranskop Loop and a lovely place to stop for a break and to stretch your legs.
There are several viewpoints in Mountain Zebra National Park. Officially there’s a difference between Lookout Points, where you can get out of your car, and Viewpoints where you should remain in your vehicle. Remember to check for animals if getting out of your car.
2. Take a Guided Game Drive
Guided game drives take place in the park in the morning, at sunset or evening as it’s getting dark. Drives last two hours, and the sunset drive includes a stop for a sundowner.
Morning game drives leave at 5am in summer or 6am in winter. Some of the lions wear tracking collars, and your guide may be able to find the pride based on these. Morning drives are the best time to see the lions, before they move into the bush for some shade.
Sunset game drives take place at 5pm in summer or 3:30pm in winter. As the sun sets you’ll stop and get out to have a drink and some snacks. These are included, but it’s more expensive than the other drives to compensate.
Evening game drives leave at 7:30pm in summer and 6pm in winter. On the evening drives you might be lucky and see an aardwolf or caracal, plus night birds such as owls and nightjars.
3. See the San Cave Paintings
There are also guided drives to see San Cave Paintings, which you can only visit with a guide. These rock painting sites are scattered around the park. After some driving, this trip involves a bit of walking and scrambling over rocks, so you have to be fit and slightly agile. The San Cave Painting tours leave at 9am and last about 2 hours.
4. Go Cheetah Tracking
Cheetah tracking is an unmissable experience in Mountain Zebra Rest Camp. You’ll drive out with a guide to find the cheetahs within the park. The cheetahs wear tracking collars so the guides can listen to the beeps they emit and try and locate them based on the direction and strength of the beeping signal. You’ll drive as close as possible on the road, then get out and walk.
The cheetah tracking drives leave at 8:30am and last several hours, the exact time depends on how long it takes to locate the cheetahs. On the drive you’ll also be able to spot other animals within the park. On the cheetah tracking you should wear neutral coloured clothes i.e. not white, black or bright colours. Bring along some water and a snack, and remember it can be very cold in the mornings in the open vehicle, so bring a jacket.
5. Take a Hike
Black Eagle Trail
The Black Eagle Trail is a gorgeous short hike above the rest camp in Mountain Zebra National Park. This is a self-guided hike, so you can walk whenever you want. It’s within the fenced rest camp area, so there aren’t any dangerous animals (apart from perhaps snakes). You hike up to the top of a rocky outcrop from which there are amazing views over the park. The walk takes about 45 minutes to one hour.
Guided Morning Walk
Guided morning walks take place every day starting around sunrise. The exact hike depends on the interests of the group, and you can hike slowly or hike up to 10 km. Remember to bring water and a snack plus both warm clothes and a sunhat. Binoculars are also useful.
The Salpeperkop Trail is a moderately challenging hike up an arid mountain with amazing views at the top. This is a guided walk that starts in the early morning with a 45-minute drive through the park to the start of the hike. Book in advance at the reception. Remember to bring water and a snack plus both warm clothes and a sunhat.
6. Drive the 4×4 Trails
You don’t need to book any of the 4×4 trails, but you do need a decent 4×4 with low range to attempt any of these drives. Although the park website describes the Juriesdam trail as easy, I would describe it as at least moderately challenging.
Sonnenrust 4×4 Trail
The Sonnenrust 4×4 Trail is a fairly easy 4×4 trail that’s 14 km long. It’s one-way in an anti-clockwise direction i.e. east to west, starting on the Ubejane Loop. It starts flat before heading upwards to the plateau where you get some great views.
Juriesdam 4×4 Trail
The Juriesdam 4×4 Trail is a moderately challenging 4×4 trail 9.5 km long, up onto a plateau and back down again. It’s one-way in an anti-clockwise direction i.e. starting closer to the rest camp. The routes up and down are steep, rocky and narrow so require some driving skills and low range. I found it slightly scary on the ascent as there are some uneven rock steps on the track and it’s on the side of a steep hill so sometimes you feel like you might topple over. Up on the plateau, it’s very remote and beautiful.
Umngeni 4×4 Trail
This is a moderately challenging 7.6km trail up a rocky ridge onto a plateau. Like the Jureisdam Trial, there are some steep sections, but you never feel like you’ll topple over. It’s one-way in an anti-clockwise direction i.e. starting closer to the rest camp and heading east to west.
Animals in Mountain Zebra National Park
Mountain Zebra is of course a great place to see Cape Mountain Zebras. Another exciting animal in the park is the cheetahs, which you have a high chance of seeing on the cheetah tracking tour. There are also lions, which sometimes can be heard roaring at night.
Mountain Zebra is actually a great place for the smaller carnivores, with relatively good chances of seeing caracal and aardwolf, though you do still have to be quite lucky to see these. You have a greater chance of seeing bat-eared foxes and porcupines.
Living within the park, but rarely seen, are brown hyenas. There are also buffalo, but these tend to hide in the thickets so can be difficult to find. There are also some less common grazers such as black wildebeest (as opposed to the normal blue wildebeest) with distinctive golden manes. You’ll also see blesbok (similar to bontebok but with a different face pattern).
Other antelope here include springbok, kudu and red hartebeest. In the more mountainous rocky regions, such as along the Kranskop Loop, you’ll find mountain reedbuck, grey rhebuck and klipspringer. To help identify all the different types of antelopes and other mammals, it’s a great idea to have a wildlife guide*.
Does Mountain Zebra have the Big 5?
Mountain Zebra National Park does not have the Big 5. It has only three of the Big 5 – lions, buffalo and rhino, and these animals are all fairly difficult to see within the park. However, the park does have several cheetahs and you have a high chance of seeing them if you go on the guided cheetah tracking. Additionally, Mountain Zebra is a great place to look for bat-eared fox, caracal and aardwolf along with slightly unusually antelope such as black wildebeest and blesbok.
Accommodation in Mountain Zebra National Park
The only accommodation within Mountain Zebra National Parks is owned by SANParks and can be booked online. Rest Camp in Mountain Zebra National Park is 12 km from the entrance gate. (guesthouse and mountain huts elsewhere).
Accommodation in Mountain Zebra Rest Camp
The Rest Camp at Mountain Zebra National Park is 12 km from the entrance gate. There’s the park reception, a fuel station (open 7am-5pm, card only), shop, restaurant and scenic pool for overnight guests. The cottages and family cottages are similar in price and style, while the rock chalets are fancier and accordingly more expensive. Additionally, the base rate for the rock chalets is for four people while for the cottages it’s for two.
Family cottages can accommodate up to four people in two bedrooms – one with a double bed and one with two single beds. They also have an equipped kitchen, lounge, TV, cosy fire, bathroom and AC for summer. There’s also a verandah with a braai.
The smaller cottages have one bedroom with two single beds, an equipped kitchen, lounge, TV, fireplace, bathroom and AC. In the lounge is a sleeper couch which can be used either by two children or one extra adult. There’s also a verandah with a braai.
Rock chalets have two bedrooms – one with a double bed and one with two single beds. Each bedroom has an en-suite bathroom and outdoor shower. The rock chalets all have an equipped kitchen, TV, fireplace for winter and AC for summer. There’s also a verandah with a braai.
Mountain Zebra National Park Campsite
There are 25 spots in the lovely campsite, all with power and a braai. You can’t reserve a specific spot, you just have to pick your favourite spot that isn’t taken when you arrive. There are shared ablutions and a nice communal kitchen with a fridge and freeze, sinks, microwave and stovetops. Most sites have nice views over the park but not all have shade. There’s a maximum of one vehicle and one tent or caravan on each site, and up to six people.
Make sure you keep a neat and tidy camp and clear away all food waste. Vervet monkeys often visit the campsite during the day and pick up anything left outside and throw it about.
Accommodation Elsewhere in the Park
There are two mountain cottages and a guesthouse outside the rest camp but within the park boundaries. The guesthouse is just a few kilometres from the rest camp, while the mountain cottages are both roughly 7 km away and you need a high-clearance vehicle to reach them since the last kilometre is along a rough track.
There are two mountain cottages in the park and you have to have a high-clearance vehicle to reach them. Umthombo Cottage is near the Weltevrede picnic site while Bakana Cottage is in Berghofkloof. Both huts have two bedrooms – one with a double bed and the other with two single beds. Additionally, each hut has a third bedroom with six bunk beds which require you to bring your own bedding.
There’s no electricity in these huts, but there is an equipped kitchen with a stove and fridge powered by gas and solar, and a fireplace. The bathroom is outside and has a toilet and hot shower. There’s also an outdoor braai.
There’s one lovely old restored guesthouse for up to six people overlooking Doornhoek Dam. It contains three bedrooms, two with double beds and one with two single beds. Each bedroom has its own bathroom. There’s also a nice equipped kitchen and lounge, space to sit outside and a braai.
Accommodation in nearby Cradock
It’s only 15 minutes drive from Cradock to the gate of Mountain Zebra National Park, making it a good place to stay outside of the park. A particularly popular place is Die Tuishuise & Victoria Manor*, beautifully renovated historic buildings in the centre of town.
Guidebooks to explore more of South Africa
I hope you enjoyed our guide to Mountain Zebra National Park in South Africa. There are several other great places to explore nearby such as Camdeboo National Park, Addo Elephant Park, Ebb & Flow Rest Camp in Wilderness or de Hoop Nature Reserve. For more hikes and activities, check out our Guide to South Africa.
FAQS: Mountain Zebra National Park
Mountain Zebra entrance fees are R60/R30 for South Africans and R240/R120 for foreigners per adult/child per day. If you stay one night in the park, you only pay the entrance fee for one day but get to stay for two. Entrance to the park is free with a WildCard.
Yes, there is a pride of lions in Mountain Zebra National Park. The first lions were introduced in 2013 and they’ve bred very successfully since then. Some of the lions are collared and you have a good chance of seeing them on a guided game drive.
Mountain Zebra National Park is unique for its combination of spectacular scenery and big game. Even if you don’t see any animals, you can admire the beautiful surrounding grassland and mountains. It’s also unique for its guided cheetah tracking, which gives you probably the highest chance of seeing a cheetah in the wild anywhere in Africa.