Category Archives: Marakele National Park

Marakele National Park

Marakele National Park – the Setswana name meaning “Place of Sanctuary” – traces its existence to the proclamation of a 150km² tract of the Waterberg as the Kransberg National Park in 1986. Over the years, more land was added and today the expanded protected area known as the Marakele National Park covers 670km² of bushveld plains and soaring mountains.

Without a doubt the highlight of a visit to Marakele is the vista from Lenong Viewpoint high up on the mountain.

Marakele’s name is well deserved, considering that it is home to 91 kinds of mammals (including the famed “Big 5), 363 kinds of birds (including an important colony of Cape Vultures), at least 62 species of reptiles, 27 amphibians and as many as 20 species of fish.

The South African National Parks provides a range of overnight options to suit almost every taste and budget in the malaria-free Marakele National Park. Bontle Rest Camp is located just a kilometre into the Park, very near the main gate and reception office. Here guests can camp in their own tents and caravans or rent one of the fully self-contained safari tents that sleep either 2 or 4 people. The camp is unfenced and regularly visited by various kinds of animals and birds. Guided drives and walks can be arranged through the reception office.

Motswere Cottage, in a remote woodland corner of the Park, is the most secluded option available to overnight guests. It is a revamped farmhouse that can accommodate groups of up to 8 guests.

Motswere Cottage, Marakele National Park

Tlopi Tented Camp is Marakele’s most popular accommodation option, with the ten two-bed tents (an additional stretcher is available for kids) situated beautifully on the bank of a dam that attracts a constant parade of wildlife day and night.

The Thutong Environmental Centre provides dormitory-style accommodation for up to 128 people and is ideal for big organised groups from family reunions to schools and church groups.

Marakele National Park is within easy reach of Gauteng’s major urban centres, lying just 220km north of Pretoria along good tarred roads. The town of Thabazimbi, just 10km from Marakele’s gate, provides all the necessary amenities one might need, from shops and fuel stations to medical facilities. Inside the Park guests are able to explore along a network of rough gravel roads, with the route up to Lenong viewpoint being the only stretch of tarred road in the Park.

Limpopo Ramble 2022: Eastern Rock Sengi

During our recent visit to Marakele National Park, while enjoying the magnificent view from the Lenong Viewpoint, we spied a little Eastern Rock Sengi basking in the early morning sun – a habit they are particularly fond of – behind a fence surrounding one of the communication towers also built atop the mountain. While the fence is a rather irritating obtrusion in these photo’s of ours, it is probably because of it that the Sengi felt comfortable enough to be out and about, safe in the knowledge that neither us humans nor any other predator could reach it!

Elephantulus myurus

The Sengis, or Elephant Shrews, (order Macroscelidea) are a family of 20 small, insectivorous mammal species occurring only in Africa. While they’re superficially very shrew-like they are in fact not related to shrews at all (and they are in fact more closely related to elephants, even if their “trunks” aren’t nearly as long and prehensile), which is why the scientific community is trying to move away from the old moniker in favour of Sengi, a name based in indigenous African languages.

The Eastern Rock Elephant Shrew, or Sengi then, occurs widely in South Africa’s northern and eastern provinces and throughout Zimbabwe, extending into portions of Lesotho, Eswatini, Botswana and Mozambique south of the Zambezi. The IUCN considers it to be of least concern.

As suggested by its name, the Eastern Rock Sengi is always found in close association with rocky areas where they hide in cracks and tiny caves among the boulders. Here they subsist on a diet that consist of insects (mainly ants and termites) and other invertebrates, though they will also eat seeds. They are diurnal, very rarely venturing out in the dark. They are also very alert and nervous, usually dashing for cover at the slightest disturbance.

Eastern Rock Sengi’s are mainly solitary and seen in pairs only while they breed during spring and summer. Females usually give birth to twins after a two-month long gestation. The young are very well developed and can move around with their mother soon after birth. Fully grown, Eastern Rock Sengi’s measure about 26cm long (of which the tail is more than half) and weigh approximately 60g. They have a very short lifespan and may live to only around 18 months of age in the wild.

Limpopo Ramble 2022: Royal Welcome at Marakele

Scarcely half-an-hour after arriving at Marakele National Park on the 29th of June, while making our way between reception and our allocated tent at Tlopi Tented Camp, we were met by this beautiful male lion, out patrolling and marking his territory. It really is nice to have your arrival acknowledged by the local royalty, don’t you think?

Limpopo Ramble 2022: Taking our Elephant for a walk

Late one evening as we were slowly heading back to Marakele National Park’s Tlopi Camp with a few minutes left before gate closing time, we found our way blocked by a big herd of elephants, and I parked our vehicle a good distance away so that we could enjoy the sighting. While the herd were peacefully going about their business up ahead, suddenly a young elephant cow came charging at full tilt out of the bush right next to us!

I immediately turned the car around and drove off. After a few hundred metres I slowed down so that we could resume our more leisurely game-viewing pace, only to have the raging cow appear in the rear-view mirror again. This being repeated several times, it was startling to realise that she would not relent and in the end she chased us for over a kilometre – with Joubert snapping away these photographs – before she turned around.

Limpopo Ramble 2022: Tlopi Buffalo Pub

One afternoon during our recent visit to Marakele National Park, while relaxing on the deck of our safari tent and enjoying the serenity of Tlopi Camp, this sizable herd of buffaloes visited their local waterhole for a drink. Joubert is responsible for all these pictures.

Limpopo Ramble 2022: Marakele Birding

Following our time at Mapungubwe National Park we headed southwest for a further four nights at Marakele National Park. Here we had another productive period as far as bird watching is concerned, ticking 101 species of the 360+ that has been recorded in the Park to date.

Limpopo Ramble 2022

We’re fresh back from our visits to two of the lesser known National Parks in South Africa’s Limpopo Province; Mapungubwe and Marakele. We had a wonderful time and have lots of stories and photos to share in the coming weeks. This is just a little teaser.

Mapungubwe National Park 25-29 June 2022

Marakele National Park 29 June to 3 July 2022

Marakele in February

In Middle February we had the opportunity of a quick weekend visit to the Marakele National Park in the Waterberg of Limpopo Province. With us still experiencing a good rainy season here in the north of the country, the Park’s scenery was lush and green and it was good to see the Waterberg (Water Mountain) living up to its name.

We were booked into Tlopi Tented Camp again, and with its wonderful view of the dam and mountains beyond and an abundance of animal life all around it was as near to heaven as can be imagined.

On Saturday afternoon we explored the plains and foothills of this section of the Park. Animals were to be seen in abundance, but the amazing scenery also kept clamouring for attention.

Some very interesting insects came to visit our fully-equipped safari tent after dark.

At dawn on Sunday morning there was just one place we wanted to go; up to the Lenong Viewpoint atop the Waterberg. The narrow, steep, winding road that takes you there, the immense vistas and the fresh air up there takes our breath away every time. 

Eventually we had to descend from the mountain, go back to Tlopi to pack our belongings, and head for home – at least we could console ourselves with a few hours drive through the Park to get to the gate and the outside world.

Our 2021 In Pictures

Take a look back with us at the wonderfully wild South African places we visited in 2021.

 

Surprise Weekend at Marakele; Sunday 13 June 2021

It was the morning after Marilize’s milestone birthday, which unfortunately coincided with South Africa experiencing a “third wave” of Covid-19 infections precluding any big commemoration with the extended family and friends. It was up to me and Joubert to make the event memorable, so we surprised Marilize with a weekend breakaway to Marakele National Park.

Having spent all day Saturday at our comfortable safari tent overlooking the dam at Tlopi Tented Camp, we decided to prolong our departure back home to Pretoria on Sunday by exploring the roads leading through the Marakele National Park before checking out. There were lots of animals and birds to be seen, but it is Marakele’s awe-inspiring scenery that steals the show every time!

Check-out time at Tlopi Tented Camp is at 10:00 in the morning. While I was packing the Duster, Joubert was keeping an eye out for thieving monkeys and getting some final photographs of life in and around Tlopi.

It was time to head for the gate. Along the way we detoured to the Bolonoto Pan and the graves of the Coetzee family, but no matter how we tried we just couldn’t stretch our weekend any further. Around midday we handed back the key for Tlopi unit 10 to the friendly reception staff and said our goodbyes to Marakele National Park, till next time.