Marakele National Park - a game rich nature reserve characterised by the contrast of imposing mountain landscapes, deep valleys and grass-clad hills.
Located just 4 hours from Gauteng and 3 hours from Tshwane on the south-western corner of the Limpopo province in South Africa, the Marakele National Park is home to an impressive array of African wildlife including the Big 5 of the animal kingdom as well as wild dog, spotted hyaenas and giraffe. Originally established as the Kransberg National Park in 1994 the nature park was later given its Tswana name; a 'place of sanctuary' when its borders were expanded.
Spanning across 67 000 hectares, Marakele National Park is part of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve and is found just 15 kilometres (9.32055 miles) north-east of Thabazimbi and 250 kilometres (155.3425 miles) north-west of Johannesburg. The reserve is made up of the south-western ridges of the Waterberg massif as well as a number of conservation areas that are privately owned.
The diversity and impressive variety of game within the wildlife reserve is largely due to the contrast between the dry western regions and wetter eastern regions. This public nature reserve rises to 2 088 metres above sea-level around the mountainous sandstone hills and tumbles to 1 050 metres above sea-level between narrow valleys and along large plains. Visitors can choose to explore the park for a day or alternatively stay over-night in the Tlopi Tented Camp which offers fully equipped safari tents on platforms.
Although there are several Iron Age sites in the park, it was only occasionally used during the Later Stone Age, most undoubtedly due to the long periods of drought and famine that the area experienced. Many streams originate in the Waterberg Mountains, most notably the Matlabas River, along with the Sunday, Mamba and Sand rivers and many smaller feeder streams. The reserve is home to four groups of vegetation namely the fine-leaved thornveld, broad-leaved woodland, grassland and lastly small forest areas. Two protea species also grow here; the common sugarbush and the silver sugarbush.
Although the reserve is home to Big Five of the animal kingdom, the big cats and other large carnivores can often be difficult to spot due to the limited road network and fragmented terrain. Marakele is known for its large volumes of Rhino which means that most visitors should spot at least one or two of these majestic beasts.
Visitors to the park are also promised to have fantastic sightings of other animals such as klipspringer, mountain and common reedbuck, as well as smaller carnivores including banded, yellow and dwarf mongoose.There are over 20 species of antelope in the park including somerarities such as greater kudu, sable antelope, common eland, Tsessebe and blue wildebeest.
There are at least 363 bird species in Marakele. A highlight of a visit is a sighting of the large breeding colony of vultures (over 800 breeding pairs)that can be seen from the Lonong Loop road along the southern border of the park. Remarkably the reserve is also home to eight species of owlhowever; they are not easily spotted, and a good knowledge of calls is beneficial.
Find accommodation options in the Marakele National Park Travel Guide