In the heart of Limpopo’s Waterberg Mountains, you’ll find Marakele National Park. In Tswana, Marakele means “a place of sanctuary”. This is true for the animals, birds and other creatures, but also for all nature lovers.
There’s a lot to love about Marakele, these are my top 5:
1. Stunning Scenery
I found myself spellbound with views of majestic mountains, grass-covered hillsides and deep valleys. I felt as if I was in a wild beautiful wilderness.
The best mountain views are from Lenhong Viewing site some 2000 metres above sea level. The panorama view is truly spectacular. I felt like I could see to the other side of the world.
Being narrow and steep, the road snakes its way up to the view site before reaching the escarpment. Certainly not for nervous drivers. I think it’s the scariest road I’ve ever travelled on. Although its tar, it is extremely narrow and with the steep precipices on the one side you need to keep your wits about you.
Fortunately, I wasn’t driving – not only to save my nerves but also to enjoy the spectacular views every inch of the way.
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2. Birdwatching and game viewing
Marakele has a wide variety of habitats. It’s a home to the big 5, a good selection of antelope and almost 300 different birds.
At the Lenhong viewing site we were treated to a pair Short-toed Rock Thrushes, (a lifer for me), Also present was Gurney’s Sugarbird, Buff-streaked Chats and a friendly Mocking Cliff Chat to name a few.
The highlight was Cape Vultures swooping past us as they rode the thermals. Marakele has the privilege of hosting one of the largest colonies of Cape Vultures in the world (My Blog) with 800 breeding pairs.
Related Post: Eye Ball to Eye Ball with Cape Vultures
Out of the big 5, we were lucky enough to find both the Black and White Rhinos as well as one lone buffalo bull.
My most exciting view was a pair of Gemsbok
At Bollonoto Dam we enjoyed two different herds of Impala vying for territory (or maybe the water). Normally Impala come across as the sweetest most harmless and peaceful buck in nature. However, this time, we watched them snorting, kicking, jumping and headbutting each other for about 20 minutes. There didn’t seem to be any winners – just a truce when each herd took turns to drink
3. Sunset Game Rides
Marakele doesn’t have an extensive network of roads, although apparently, they will be opening more in the near future. Most roads are dirt but in good condition.
Marakele offers morning and sunset game drives, as well as walks. We chose the Sunset Game Drive.
Our game ranger was knowledgeable and friendly. Our fellow guests were from Germany and this was their first game ride in Africa. It was wonderful seeing Africa through their fresh eyes. The oohs, ahhhs, and ‘schon’ was just as entertaining as the wildlife surrounding us.
I can highly recommend doing this if (or should I say when) you visit Marakele.
4. Excellent accommodation and camping facilities.
There are two rest camps in Marakele, both unfenced (the best part).
We stayed in one of the tented units at Bontle Camp. Each unit has its own kitchen, braai area, and a veranda with unspoilt views of the African bush. All the units are private and as the sun set, our only company was pearl spotted owls calling, along with a Fiery-necked nightjar butting in from time to time.
Bontle Camp also caters for 36 campsites, all with power points. The camp overlooks Bontle Dam and campers are often treated to game coming to drink.
Tlopi Tented camp is 17 km from the entrance and overlooks the Apiesrivierpoort Dam. Here visitors can watch game coming to drink or cool off. I would love to stay there on my next visit.
5. No shops, no petrol station, no swimming pool – Just peace and quiet.
Marakele has no shops or petrol. If you run out of supplies you need to drive 12 km to Thabazini.
This makes Marakele a true wilderness, far from the maddening crowds. I think this is what I loved the most about Marakele.
If you’re chasing the Big 5, maybe Marakele is not for you. If you long to spend time in the African bushveld in the true sense of the word, then come to Marakele. It truly lives up to its name, a “sanctuary” for all who live there or visit.