Situated between the arid western regions and moister eastern parts of South Africa, this national park hosts an eclectic blend of flora and fauna, including huge cycads and the largest colony of rare Cape vultures in the world. Meaning “place of sanctuary” in the local Tswana language, Marakele is only two hours’ drive from Johannesburg, yet city visitors can find respite in the Waterberg Mountains which define the landscape here.
Marakele National Park
On my way north towards Mapungubwe, I spent three nights at Marakele National Park in the Waterberg region of South Africa, near the town of Thabazimbi. I first visited here in winter time, but this time I arrived in summer, and I enjoyed the contrast. This is the heartland of the bushveld habitat, and in winter it can seem a little dreary, but in summer, the land comes alive.
It's a very diverse park, so although bushveld predominates, the park's upper reaches on the Lenong Mountain is more typical of the Cape mountains, with flowering proteas and an endemic species of Ceder tree, named after the famous ethologist and naturalist Eugene Marais, who lived in the Waterberg and became famous for his studies on baboons and termites.
The more time you spend in the bushveld of South Read more »
The name Marakele means “place of sanctuary” in Tswana, and after driving through the town of Thabazimbi to get here, I’d certainly agree with that moniker. In fact, looking back on my Year in the Wild, I don’t think I’ve seen such a contrast between industrial degradation and pristine nature.
Anglo American’s iron ore mine almost surrounds the town, and entire hillsides have been carved out, while mountains of detritus have been dumped right next to natural bushveld. It’s difficult to believe that there is a beautiful national park just 12 kilometres north-east of the town. But thankfully there is, and I hope Anglo American is contributing lots of their money to the funding and development of Marakele, because they should!
I just don’t know how they think they are going to Read more »
It’s quite surprising that there are only three national parks in South Africa which has the Big 5 of lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino. Kruger, Addo, and now Marakele!
This relatively small national park of about 70 000 hectares is also the only one that features typical highveld bushscape; it also includes the beautiful Waterberg mountains, which makes for an unexpected surprise for those people used to the endless plateauscape of the highveld. The lowest point in the park is about 1 000 metres above sea level near the entrance gate, and the highest is the impressive Lenokeng view point at about 2080 metres, the very top of the Waterberg.
But visitors shouldn’t expect to see loads of animals – or all of Read more »