Marataba is a stylish, sophisticated camp that manages to combine the Big Five and the bushveld with elemental constructions of glass, stone, canvas and steel. Set in the Marakele National Park, this Waterberg destination is only three hours' drive from Johannesburg.

Did you know?

Because of the varied terrains, Marataba has a remarkable 400-strong bird list.

The Marataba Safari Company has taken tented camps to a whole new level of style and luxury.

Set in a 23 000-hectare concession area of the Marakele National Park in the Waterberg, Marataba’s décor is a modern African take on ancient tradition.

The central building is created from dry stone walling and conical towers that are reminiscent of the great African civilisations of Great Zimbabwe and Thulamela, mixed with elegant lighting, glass, steel, wood, cow-skin throws, and carpets and divans.

But it’s the tents of the Marataba Safari Company that will astound you. Outside, they seem unexceptional. But once you’re inside, they seem more like opulent works of art created with canvas and stone.

When you emerge in the early morning, you’ll very likely find elephant tracks meandering along the pathways through the unfenced camp. You are in the wild heart of Big Five country, and the elephants sometimes like to sip water from the swimming pool.

This area of the Waterberg, less than four hours' drive from Johannesburg, is what rangers call the 'sweetveld side'. The soils, which are more nutritious here than elsewhere, attract more animals. And even in the depths of winter, the velvety grey camelthorn pods make tasty fodder for the antelope and baboons.

Above you, dominating every view, is the splendid high cliff-face called Kranskop, home to one of South Africa’s largest colonies of Cape griffon vultures. You can actually be driven to the top here, and will be astounded by the sight of these birds flying past you at eye level, rising on thermals.

Down below, a large expanse of water near the lodge attracts white-faced ducks, spoonbills with their ladle-shaped beaks, and spur-wing geese posing like heraldic emblems on the banks. Above the water, you’ll see a flutter of white and black as a pied kingfisher hovers and dives.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Marataba Safari Company reservations
Tel: +27 (0)44 501 1111
Fax: +27 (0)44 501 1100
Emails: res@hunterhotels.com

How to get here

Take the N1 north from Johannesburg or Pretoria. Turn off at Bela Bela and take the road towards Leeupoort (R516) and Thabazimbi. Drive through Thabazimbi (a largish mining town). From Thabazimbi, take the Alma road. You’ll find the entrance after about 12km.

The drive will take about three to four hours.

Best time to visit

This area can be oppressively hot during the height of summer (December, January and February). It is far more temperate from March to November. Note that the temperatures can drop to near freezing on winter nights.

Around the area

The Waterberg Biosphere offers many activities and attractions on the Waterberg Meander. An electronic brochure can be easily downloaded from the website.

What will it cost

The rates, depending on packages and season, are approx R5 000 per person per night, including meals, accommodation and game drives.

Length of stay

Two nights would be ideal.

What to pack

In winter (May to August), bring warm clothes. Bring along binoculars, and if you’re a birder, don’t forget a South African bird book.

Best buys

If you fall in love with the Charlotte Rhys toiletries in your tent, you can buy a full set to take home with you.