Overview – Marakele NP
Marakele, at the heart of the Waterberg Mountains, is a scenic destination in remote wilderness. The park is home to the Big Five, but sightings are hit-and-miss. Big cats aren't encountered very often, but white rhino is seen regularly. A highlight is the vulture viewpoint where Cape vulture can be spotted. The park is divided into two sections: the first contains easy-to-drive gravel roads but not many animals; the second is far wilder but also richer in wildlife.
Pros & Cons
- Beautiful rugged scenery
- Excellent birding
- Off-the-beaten-track destination with great wilderness appeal
- Self-catering accommodation for self-drive visitors
- Upmarket lodge in exclusive private concession
- Low-key wildlife viewing and predator sightings are rare
- Far away from South Africa's main tourist attractions
- Many tracks for 4x4 vehicles only
Marakele is a relatively new national park. Many large animals have been introduced, including lion and buffalo, but numbers are still low. White rhino is spotted regularly, and black rhino is present, but rarely seen. Several interesting antelope species can be encountered, including the rare tsessebe.
Marakele lies in the transitional zone between the dry western and moist eastern regions of South Africa and is characterized by rugged mountain landscapes, rolling hills and deep valleys. Magnificent yellowwood and cedar trees, five-meter-high cycads, and tree ferns are just some of the botanical delights.
Weather & Climate
Marakele’s two distinctive seasons dictate how you dress while visiting the park. It’ll be wet-weather gear on top of cool clothes in the rainy but hot summer months (October to April). And you'll need lots of warm layers to combat the cold nights of the dry winter season (May to September).
Best Time to Visit
Despite the dusty haze that develops in the parched depths of the Dry season (May to September), this is still the best time to spot Marakele’s wildlife. The animals are easily found as they stay close to rivers and waterholes. And when they do duck into the bush, there’s not much ground cover to hide them. That said, birders will want to visit in the wetter months when migrating birds pass through.
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Marakele NP Safari Reviews
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Most Helpful Expert Review
Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.
In the wilds of the Waterberg
In the Waterberg biosphere reserve, Marakele is packed full of wildlife and stunning bush landscapes. The park is actually setup in two sections - to gain access to the wilder second half where all the Big 5 roam in abundance, you press a...
Latest User Review
Wonderful place and very professional Guide in Marataba Safari Lodge.