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Marakele National Park, Waterberg, Limpopo

Everything about the 67000ha Marikele National Park in the Limpopo Waterberg mountain region of South Africa could be said to be ‘BIG’.

Marakele has the Big 5 (rhino, elephant, lion, leopard and buffalo), big wide open vistas with the unique and majestic mountains of the Waterberg, deep forested valleys, 5 metre high cycads, and the biggest  breeding colony of endangered Cape Vulture in in the world.

Marikele means ‘Place of Sanctuary’ in Tswana, and many of the animals in the park have been brought here from other locations – including the famous Tuli elephants calves who made world headlines in 1998 when they were rescued from horrific abuse at the hands of a private owner. They are now a part of the herd, living free in Marikele.

Endangered and endemic plant species that are also being preserved include yellowwoods, proteas and cycads, and there is an abundance of birds species – from brightly coloured malachite sunbirds to raptors, including the vultures and several species of eagle.

Animals that can be seen include elephant, white rhino, black rhino, lion, leopard, cheetah, buffalo, kudu, reedbuck, eland and tsessebe antelope. The Cape Vulture colony is made up of over 800 birds and is easily seen from the mountain pass.

Activities on the Reserve include bird watching, game drives (including sunrise and sunset game drives),a 4×4 eco-trail and guided sunrise and sunset bush walks and a three day, two night hiking trail.

Marikele also features a state-of-the-art R10 million, corporately funded Environmental Educational Centre, opened by SANParks in 2011.

Accommodation is available at the unfenced Tlopi Tented Camp in fully equipped bush tents that sleep two adults and 2 children, and also feature verandah wih tables and chairs and braai facilities, or at the Bontle Camping Site – also unfenced. Luxury Safari Lodge and Tented Camp accommodation is also available in the 23000ha Marataba private concession reserve within Marikele.

For more info

Getting there: Take the R511 north out of Johannesburg. After about 133km, exit off onto the R510, turning left after 23,3km, right after13,5km, then left again after 2,4km. the gate is 9,3 km along this road.

More info on the area of Waterberg More info on the Limpopo area