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Marakele National Park

Marakele in the Waterberg might be smaller and quieter than most other national parks, but it’s still home to the Big Five and a rare colony of Cape vultures. And it’s easily one of our most scenic wilderness destinations. It takes a little planning, but a guided morning bush walk is a must. (Day visitors must book beforehand.)You’ll see the Bushveld waking up, you’ll hear the call of a grey go-away-bird and you’ll follow the tracks of an elephant or even a lion. The guides are experienced and they’ll teach you more about the geology and vegetation of the Waterberg. They’ll also point out the smallest details: anthills, the exoskeleton of a millipede, insect spoor in the veld…

Marakele National Park
Marakele National Park

After the walk, drive to the Ikhutseng picnic site for brunch, about 4 km north of the main gate. (There are braai facilities.) There’s no shop in the park so make sure everyone eats enough to tide them over until dinner. Now head to the Lenong viewpoint in the eastern part of the park. You drive up a steep mountain road to get there – look for elephants along the way. Make sure your phone is fully charged because you’ll want to take lots of photos at the viewpoint. Sit on a rock and wait for the vultures to arrive. Marakele is home to one of the biggest and most important breeding colonies of these endangered birds in the world: about 800 breeding pairs nest against the cliffs at your feet.

From Lenong, drive back towards the main gate and turn onto the Mbidi road. This road used to be a 4×4-only trail, but now you have a good chance of seeing lions in your sedan. Pull over at the viewpoint overlooking Tlopi Tented Camp, which is next to a dam. At this moment, you’ll probably wish that you weren’t just a day visitor…

How to get there? Marakele is 12 km north-east of Thabazimbi (about 250 km north of Joburg).

Gate times: 6 am to 6 pm.

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