Looking back at all the places we stayed in while exploring South Africa’s wild places in 2019!
If you thought we were a bit quiet over the Easter Weekend you’d be right, as we disappeared into the Marakele National Park in the Waterberg Mountains of the Limpopo Province, celebrating the cornerstone of our Chrisitian faith with good friends and family surrounded by awesome scenery and beautiful wildlife.
Marakele’s such a treasure chest of diverse wildlife that it is hard to decide what to show and what to leave out. Let’s start then with a few of the “creepy crawlies” that we encountered while exploring the Park.
WIth Autumn now in full swing in South Africa most of the summer visiting migrant birds have departed for warmer environs already, but bird watching at Marakele over Easter was still a special treat!
What would a National Park be without some charismatic large mammals? Marakele certainly didn’t disappoint on that score, even though the lush vegetation following the rainy season did make game-viewing a bit trickier than usual.
Altogether we spent 4 nights in Marakele on this trip, arriving late on the 18th and departing again on the morning of the 22nd of April 2019. When visiting Marakele in a big group there’s no better option than to stay at the Thutong Environmental Education Centre (as we did) in a remote corner of the Park.
We’ve covered Marakele extensively in previous posts on de Wets Wild, so why not have a read through all of them if you are interested to learn more about this magical piece of our country.
Looking back at the places we stayed at during another year of enjoying South Africa’s beautiful wild places.
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In South Africa, we celebrate the 24th of September as “Heritage Day”, and of course to us de Wets our country’s natural heritage is our biggest pride. What better way then to spend the Heritage Day long weekend than at a place as beautiful as Marakele National Park, accompanied by a group of wonderful friends?
Marakele’s varied landscapes makes for such a diverse experience – from the top of the Waterberg massif to the plains of Kwaggasvlakte below. A few fires passed through the area some days before our visit (a quite natural occurrence in African savannas, to which animal and plant life alike are perfectly adapted) and as soon as the first rains of spring fall Marakele should be transformed into a green paradise again.
There’s no doubt in our mind that Marakele’s populations of the popular “Big Five” animals must be growing at a good rate. We’ve never seen so many elephants on any of our previous visits to this Park, and this latest visit also delivered us our first encounters with both Marakele’s buffaloes and lions. It is now only the Park’s leopards that still elude us.
By now our regular readers will know that we love walking around after dark looking for nocturnal creatures, and in this respect the Thutong Environmental Education Centre where we stayed delivered a range of arachnid species!
We’ve already shared with you a series of photos of a wasp dragging a paralysed caterpillar to a nesting tunnel for its young to feed on – have a look here for the complete set.
Marakele means “a place of sanctuary”, and it is as true for human visitors as it is for the immense collection of wildlife that calls this gem of a place home!
A big group of people needs a big place to stay. Marakele’s Thutong Environmental Education Centre is a dormitory-style facility built purposely to accommodate visiting school groups, however it is available for private groups when not being used by school children. Provided is six double rooms with en-suite bathrooms for the teachers, with a maximum of 128 children that can be accommodated in 16 seperate rooms with 8 bunk beds in each. Thutong also has a decently equipped kitchen to cook for that many mouths, and a large hall and fireplace. It is securely fenced – the necessity for which we clearly understood when we found lion tracks right outside the gate one morning!
Want to learn more about Marakele National Park? Why not scroll through all our posts about this special place, here.
Just to prove that a visit to a game reserve isn’t all about the “hairies and scaries”, one of the most memorable sightings of the trip we took to Marakele National Park last weekend wasn’t of one of the “Big Five” or another large mammal, bird or reptile. Instead, we watched in awe as a wasp carried (sometimes through the air, but mostly along the ground) a large, paralysed caterpillar to a specially prepared tunnel. In there, the wasp’s young can grow to adulthood by feeding on the hapless immature insect.
If you thought we were a little quiet the last few days, you’d be right. We spent the Heritage Day long weekend enjoying our natural heritage and the company of good friends at Marakele National Park. Here’s just a little sample of some of what we experienced, with a promise of more to come later in the week.