Join us for a look back at the wonderfully wild South African destinations we visited during 2022. May 2023 be a blessed year for you and your family, memorable for all the best reasons.
Tag Archives: Tlopi Tented Camp
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.
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: 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: 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
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
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.
Surprise Weekend at Marakele; Baby Elephant Rescue!
We were still watching the herd of elephants calmly going about their business on the shores of the dam at Tlopi Tented Camp in Marakele National Park on Marilize’s birthday, when suddenly there was a tremendous uproar in the herd.
Cows were trumpeting in panic and rushing to a specific spot, while one particular youngster was screaming blue murder and running away from the same place as quickly as the grown-ups were approaching.
It quickly became apparent that a tiny baby had fallen down a small embankment and into the mud at the edge of the pool, struggling to get up. Within seconds the adult cows were lending either a helping foot or trunk and the baby was lifted to safety.
While we didn’t see how the baby ended up in the mud to begin with, from their reaction to the youngster that fled the scene earlier, and who was still screeching to high heaven but now circled back to the group of cows where they were soothing the upset baby, it was rather clear who the adult elephants thought carried the blame for the incident!
Surprise Weekend at Marakele; Saturday 12 June 2021
Round about 04:45am on Saturday, the territorial rasping of a leopard really close lured Joubert and me out of our cosy tent into the cold winter morning air at Tlopi Tented Camp. Try as we might using our spotlight and headlamps the big cat remained unseen, so we warmed ourselves with hot drinks, waiting for the first rays of sunshine to appear. It was the morning of Marilize’s milestone birthday, and unfortunately this 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.
First light made an appearance around 06:20 and a stream of birds started arriving at the dam – first a few double-banded sandgrouse, then a hadeda and a pair of egyptian geese, waking up the arrow-marked babblers in the tree shading our tent. It was only at 08:10 that the sun first peaked over the cliffs of the Waterberg towering over Tlopi and started heating up the crisp air. Somewhere in between Marilize joined us on the deck of our safari tent.
One of the most active actors on the dam stage was a pied kingfisher that regularly made attempts at dive-bombing fish in the shallow water, and was very successful at it too, providing us excellent views and photographic opportunities from very early on in the day.
There appears to be a very healthy population of bushbuck in the thickets around Tlopi. They regularly ventured out into the open to drink and feed in and around the dam.
Throughout the day a family of tawny-flanked prinias put in regular appearances:
The vervet monkeys had us laughing. As soon as they spotted anything on our deck that appeared to be food they could steal – and seeing as we were celebrating a birthday it must have seemed like a feast to them – they’d arrive from all corners, including from across the dam, to come and try their luck, in vain.
There truly is no need to venture out of Tlopi Tented Camp to go and look for Marakele’s wild inhabitants – there is a constant queue of animals and birds arriving at the dam in front of the camp, and around your tented accommodation, that would keep any nature lover enthralled all day long.
From about 14:00 in the afternoon, two herds of elephants made their way past the camp to the dam. They spent quite a while enjoying the water and the greenery around the dam, allowing us to take photographs of them to our hearts’ content. The little ones were especially endearing. Be sure to catch our next post to see what drama erupted next to the dam thanks to the elephants!
At the end of a beautiful and happy day, with the sun setting to the west of Tlopi while the smoke from our evening braai (barbeque) wafted on the slight breeze, Joubert set up his camera for a few night shots after it went dark.
To be continued…