​Expert Reviews – Marakele NP

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Alan Murphy   –  
Australia AU
Visited: January

Alan is a travel writer and author of over 20 Lonely Planet guidebooks, including the guides to Southern Africa and Zambia & Malawi.

6 people found this review helpful.

In the wilds of the Waterberg
Overall rating

In the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, Marakele is packed full of wildlife and stunning bush landscapes. The park is set up in two sections – to gain access to the wilder second half where all the Big Five roam in abundance, you press a buzzer to get through a gate. Head to the vulture-viewing point up a very steep road where the endangered Cape vulture hangs out in huge numbers. From here the majesty of the landscape can be fully appreciated. I enjoyed cruising the first section of the park too, where easy gravel roads allowed effortless viewing of zebra and antelope such as kudu – the bulls with their glorious spiral horns looking like serious contenders for an ‘antelope of the park’ award. Keep an eye out for species that are harder to spot in other parks, such as mountain reedbuck, common eland and wandering tsessebe. If it has been wet, check what access is like in the second section of the park before venturing in. Oh, and if you have a hankering to capture lumbering rhino on film, you’re in for a treat, with high-density populations, especially of white rhino.

James Bainbridge   –  
United Kingdom UK
Visited: October

James is a travel writer and author of many Lonely Planet guides, including senior author of the guide to South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

4 people found this review helpful.

Vultures in the Mountains
Overall rating

Marakele offers a rousing taste of the Waterberg Mountains, with its landscape of grassy valleys beneath red cliffs. Visiting this rugged corner of Limpopo province is more about the scenery than the wildlife, although the park does have the world's largest colony of endangered Cape vultures (more than 800 breeding pairs). Several species of raptor can be seen catching thermals throughout Marakele.

I drove up to the vulture-viewing point one sunset, feeling thankful that I didn't meet many cars coming down the precipitous road. Having enjoyed the panoramic view of dusky blue bluffs, I gingerly descended to the excellent accommodation at Tlopi Tented Camp. Overlooking a dam, Tlopi's furnished tents each have an outdoor kitchen with braai – perfect for braaing a steak and, if you’re lucky, seeing antelopes at the dam.

The park's animals include lions, leopards, black and white rhinos, elephants and brown hyenas, though sightings of predators are rare.

Lizzie Williams   –  
South Africa ZA

Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

4 people found this review helpful.

A tranquil setting in the Waterberg Mountains with abundant plains game and with growing potential a
Overall rating

With grass-clad hills and deep valleys, Marakele is probably the best place to appreciate the Waterberg Mountains. The drive up to the mountain-top Sentech Towers is a must and the views are spectacular. The park is home to some 800 breed¬ing pairs of Cape vulture, and on a good ‘thermal’ day, they can be seen from this lookout point soaring below. Zebra, giraffe, elephant, and numerous ante¬lope like eland, kudu, impala and tsessebe are often seen, and there’s an excellent chance of seeing both black and white rhino. But don’t go to Marakele just yet for amazing sightings of predators; although some lion, cheetah, wild dog, brown hyena, and leopard have been introduced, the park is still in its development phase and these are rarely seen. But for now Marakele offers leisurely game-viewing of plains game in a peaceful environment and is a manageable drive from Johannesburg.

Ariadne van Zandbergen   –  
South Africa ZA
Visited: Winter

Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.

1 person found this review helpful.

Mountain Magic & Birds Galore
Overall rating

This scenic park is located in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains. Although it is a Big Five reserve, we didn’t see a lot of wildlife during our two-day visit. We did enjoy what we saw though, which was a herd of elephants and one white rhino in the distance, as well as several antelopes and baboons. The game drive circuit is very limited, but our main interest was to make our way up the very steep track to Lenong viewpoint. The drive is quite treacherous, but the views are more than worth it. The peak is close to one of the largest Cape vulture colonies in the world (800 breeding pairs) and we were mesmerized when watching these critically endangered birds soar below our vantage point of 2,088m above sea level. A pair of klipspringers made an appearance and when we sat down to have a little picnic, we were quickly surrounded by a variety of high-altitude specialized birds. Within no time I bagged some great photos of Cape rock thrush, mocking cliff chat, Cape bunting and buff-streaked chat. What an unexpected treat!

Average Expert Rating

  • 3.4/5
  • Wildlife
  • Scenery
  • Bush Vibe
  • Birding

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