Our mission to visit as many South African national parks as possible, continues. With that said, queue camping in winter.
Yes, we know it’s summer but if you are anything like us, you will want to plan and budget for your next trip.
Marakele is just the perfect spot for a weekend camping adventure, especially if you live in or around Gauteng.
A mere 3 hour drive from Johannesburg, Marakele lives up to it’s name, a place of sanctuary, tucked away in the Waterberg Mountain Range, a stone throws away from the little town of Thabazimbi.
The rose tinted Kransberg, cliff mountain, towers over the golden savannah plains and Camel Thorn trees rise up to meet the sky.
The park is home to the big 5 as well as hyena, kudu, tsessebe and giraffe, just to name a few. The park is teaming with wild life making each game drive an adventure.
The camp site is situated near the main entrance to the park overlooking a grassy plain which is reminiscent of the Serengeti, in miniature form of course. Antelope, warthogs and ostriches are a common sight in the plain, often wondering into the camping area. In the past, even rhino were a common sight. Unfortunately due to the poaching pandemic the animals have been relocated further into the park which is fenced off from the main camp area and also hosts the park’s predator species.
We setup camp on the edge of the grassy plain and watched animals grazing in the golden grass during sunset. We even had the odd Ostrich visiting our camp site, searching for food. Bernie dubbed the older male as ‘Stealy’, because he tried to grab any food in sight.
If camping isn’t your thing, and we think it should be, you also have the option of staying at the tented rest camp, overlooking a beautiful dam. If you opt to stay there, take note that the lions, leopards and hyenas could easily roam into the camp area. That could be fun, or not.
On most mornings we packed our little Jimny with a picnic basket and drove up to the most spectacular lookout point. A narrow tarred road takes you up to the top of the Kransberg Mountain where you can sit back and admire nature at it’s best. We also managed to tick off most of the big 5 on our sightings list. The Leopard will always remain elusive.
Our trip to Marakele was not incident free. In typical Smit fashion we managed to run the Jimmy’s battery flat. We got stranded on top of a mountain, on a steep hill. Let’s put it this way, push starting a car down hill with a sheer drop off and a sharp turn is not exactly the best idea we have had. None the less, we managed to get out of that situation alive and drove to Thabazimbi to have the battery replaced. The lesson, don’t leave your camping fridge plugged in while the car is idling.
The main activities at the park involve game drives, either self driven or guided, as well as guided walks. If you have a 4×4 there are a few eco trails you can test your skills on. At the time of our visit, the trails were closed for maintenance, so if you plan to visit the park for that, call in to check that they have re-opened the 4×4 routes. If star gazing is your thing then this park will make that happen! Light pollution is minimal allowing visitors to take in the starry nights. Winter months are the best as the galactic core will be in full view!
The park facilities are well maintained and serviced regularly. Friendly staff are always happy to help making your stay extra special.
Marakele is an absolute must for nature lovers and those seeking a relaxing break from every day life.