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 Africa, the more you fall in love with it. It’s not as immediately scenic as other habitats perhaps, but it’s the heartland of the country, and in many ways defines South Africa. Let’s face it: there is no more quintessential South African scene than a group of people braaing boerewors in bushveld country as the crimson sun sets through the dusty sky.
The campsites at Bontle are shaded by acacia trees...and it is unfenced, so you're likely to have rhinos walking past sometimes. The lions, however, are not in this section of the park, so don't stress...
The view from Tlopi Tented Camp is one of my favourite in the parks network. When I see this photo, I just want to go back there, start a braai, crack a beer and spend the evening eating lamb chops with my friends or family.
The view coming down the beautiful Lenong Road, which leads from the bushveld plains below to the mountains above, at an altitude of about 2000 metres.
Proteas?!? What are they doing here, so far from the Cape? The Waterberg (and Drakenbserg) both have several species of proteas that grow happily here, a relic population from a time when perhaps fynbos was more prolific across the region.
More proteas...great to see them here. They made me homesick for Cape Town and Table Mountain National Park!
Some female kudus drinking from the dam at Tlopi Tented Camp
Crimson sunset...bushveld style at Marakele
An old male giraffe...look how dark and rich his colouring is...a good indicator of his age.
White rhino grazing near to the offices of the park...the park has some of the best security in the country, but despite this, poachers have killed a few rhinos over the recent years. Nevertheless, the rhinos in the park are habituated to vehicles, and it's possible for visitors to see them up close, without the rhinos worrying about you.
This white rhino was not fussed at all by all the comings and goings of the park staff near the entrance gate.
Chilling out...white rhinos are in fact docile creatures most of the time. It's only hunters that pretend they aren't. I have no idea why hunters think it's a challenge to shoot these animals...several times I have been able to walk up close to white rhinos, with a ranger, and they've hardly been perturbed by our presence.
Typical bushveld on the slopes of the Waterberg...
A grey rhebok on the high slopes of the Waterberg...
For more, go to www.yearinthewild.com and www.facebook.com/yearinthewild. Check out my Flickr photos at www.flickr.com/scottnramsay and my Instagram photos at www.instagram.com/wildscotty. Twitter on www.twitter.com/yearinthewild.
Thanks to my partners Cape Union Mart, Ford Everest, Goodyear, and K-Way.
As well as WildCard, EeziAwn, Frontrunner, Globecomm, Hetzner, National Luna, Outdoor Photo, Safari Centre Cape Town, Tracks 4 Africa, and Vodacom.
Conservation partners BirdLife South Africa, Botswana Department of Wildlife and National Parks, CapeNature, Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, Gorongosa National Park, iSimangaliso Wetland Park, Namibia Wildlife Resorts, Parque Nacional do Limpopo, South African National Parks and Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Management Authority.