Marakele National Park is situated in the Waterberg mountains in the Limpopo province of South Africa. Marakele is one of my favorite South African Safari destinations as it is fairly close to Gauteng where I live.
Out of season very few people visit it so you are likely to have the campsite at Bontle to yourself.
No fences separates you from the wildlife so the animals will come into the campsite to graze.
One evening we had to wait until about 9 pm for a pair of Rhino's with their calf to move on before lighting our campfire to cook supper!
They were grazing right next to our caravan.
...I suggest that you keep left into the first circle of stands once you reach Bontle campsite in this national park
Marakele - a Place of Sanctuary...
The reason is that there is a waterhole about 500 meters away that you can watch.
Giraffes, Kudus, Blue Wildebeest, Impala, Ostriches and Rhinos are but some of the animals that will come and drink at the waterhole and then graze on the open veld surrounding the waterhole.
By picking one of these stands you can watch game from the comfort of your campsite.
You can off course go game viewing in the park in your own vehicle but be aware that most of the tracks are for 4X4 vehicles only.
The park is bisected by a national road which separates the park into two sections. From Bontle Campsite the other side of Marakele can be reached by a tunnel under the national road. This tunnel is protected by gates to keep Lions and Elephants in the other side of the park.
You can also reach the other side of the park by exiting back to the main road and going round and entering the national park at the next gate. (The tunnel and gates were added since our last visit. We still had to go around)
From this gate you can follow a tarred road all the to the top of the Waterberg mountains in the reserve from which you will have some excellent views over the bushveld landscape. Be careful and keep an eye out for other vehicles when either ascending or descending. The road is very narrow and in most places only allows a single car to pass. It is also very, very steep so I hope you are not afraid of heights.
Take your binoculars and hiking shoes along as there is a trail that you can follow on the summit from which you can view the nest sites of a breeding colony of Cape Vultures.
In summary, if you enjoy African bushveld safaris, make sure that you visit Marakele National Park. As an African safari wilderness experience, with some or a lot of comforts included, depending on where you stay, this is it.
The facilities at the Bontle Campsite are quite basic and rustic. This is however a wilderness campsite with the focus on enjoying the nature and wildlife with as little disturbance as possible. There are therefore no shops, swimming pools, games rooms and such at this reserve.
Mom and baby
For entertainment you must be a nature lover. The game viewing from the comfort of your campsite is superb. It overlooks an wide open section of veld with a waterhole which is very popular with the wildlife.
Nearby Attractions: The closest town is Thabazimbi which you drive through on your way to Marakele. Stock up with firewood and other essentials while you are here.
The Waterberg Biosphere reserve was designated in 2001 by UNESCO and is one of the most important San art areas in South Africa. This reserve covers an area of approximately 400 000 hectares and eco tourism is quite popular on the various game farms in the area
Directions to Marakele National Park: The easiest way to get to the park is to take the N1 north from Johannesburg to Warmbaths and from there follow the R516 via Mabula and Leeupoort to Thabazimbi. The park is approximately 12 km from Thabazimbi on the road to Alma
Alternate Route: Travel to Brits and follow the R511 via Beestekraal to Thabazimbi. Be on the lookout for the Beestekraal station on your left hand side as you travel to Thabazimbi. The disused buildings are now a quaint restaurant which is an ideal stop for a quick bite and to stretch your legs.Map 0f Route:
Telephone: +27 (0)12 428 9111
Fax: +27 (0)12 343-0905
Go to Marakele National Park official web site