The last of the major public restcamps to be built, Mopani was constructed in 1991 in order to provide a stop over point for visitors between Letaba and Shingwedzi, a distance of over 100km. Mopani is unique in having been funded predominantly through corporate sponsorship, and offers some excellent accommodation nestled amongst between the koppies and Mopani trees. A huge gnarled old baobab tree dominates the heart of the camp.
Situated on the Pioneer Dam, there are spectacular views from the restaurant and "Ladies Bar". There is a good swimming pool offering welcome relief from the Summer heat, and an in-camp interpretative trail has been laid out.
There are 45 four-bedded bungalows (two singles and a bunk bed) with one bathroom and a verandah with kitchenette and outside braai. There is the same number of six bed cottages (3 twin rooms) which have an extra bathroom and a lounge/dining area.
There are also twelve Cottages sleeping 2-4 and the Xanatseni Guest House which accommodates 8 (one double bed only; the remainder are singles) and comes with its own outdoors bar with a view of the dam.
There is a sleepover hide at Shipandani which you can reserve through Reception (6 beds).
Close by to Mopani is the new Tsendze Rustic Campsite. This opened in November 2006 and offers a back-to-basics camping experience. You must book in advance and check in at Mopani to use this facility.
The dense mopane veld is less palatable than some of the sweet grasses of the plains of the south, but Mopani camp has an unfair reputation for being a poor game area. In truth there is actually very little that cannot be seen in this habitat. In fact you can sit at the lookout point in camp, or at the nearby balcony of the ladies bar (great for sundowners), and be treated to a constant stream of animals such as hippo, waterbuck, impala, warthog, elephant, buffalo and even lion.
The Tropic of Capricorn loop and the Nshawu pans are an excellent area to see game as there are some open plains that host species such as blue wildebeest, Burchell’s zebra, Buffalo and the rarer tsessebe. Black-backed jackal and caracal are some of the smaller more unusual species to look out for.
Mopani Restcamp overlooks the Pioneer Dam where a plethora of water birds are to be seen. Storks, egrets, kingfishers and African Fish Eagles are ever present while Collared (Red-winged) Pratincole, African Spoonbill, Black-winged Stilt and White-winged Tern are some of the more uncommon species to watch for. Mosque and Wire-tailed Swallow breed in camp (try the camp's huge Baobab Tree). Mocking Cliff-Chats should be looked for from the Ladies Bar.
Also worth visiting are the Shipandani and Pioneer Dam Hides which allow visitors to get very close to the water’s edge and offer perspectives from the other side of the dam.
At the nearby Nshawu Pans look for Kittlitz's Plover, Chestnut-backed Sparrowlark (Finchlark) and Collared (Red-winged) Pratincole.
Mopani is situated at the transition zone between granite /gneiss soils to the west and basalt soils to the east. The former hosts a combination of mixed bush willow, silver cluster-leaf and tree and shrub mopane, while the latter combines apple-leaf with shrub mopane. Large knob-thorn, tamboti and leadwood are found along the drainage lines.