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MMarataba Safari Lodge 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 of Limpopo province, 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 African civilisations at Great Zimbabwe and Thulamela, mixed with elegant lighting, glass, steel, wood, cowhide throws, and carpets and divans. 

But it’s the tents of the Marataba Safari Lodge 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 5 country, and the elephants sometimes like to sip water from the swimming pool. 

This area of the Waterberg, a little over 3 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 cliff-face called Kranskop, home to one of South Africa’s largest colonies of Cape griffon vultures. You can be driven to the top here – to 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. 

Did You Know?

TTravel tips & Planning  info 

Who to contact

Marataba Safari Lodge / Marataba Mountain Lodge 
Tel: +27 (0)14 779 0018 

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 between 3 and 4 hours, depending on how many times you stop to drink in exquisite views. 

Best time to visit

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

Around the area

The Waterberg Meander explores the many activities and attractions of the Waterberg Biosphere – consult the listed websites for details. 

Length of stay

Spend at least 2 nights to sample all Marakele National Park has to offer. 

What to pack

From May to August, bring warm clothes, and a hat and sunscreen are recommended year-round. Bring along binoculars, and if you’re a birder, don’t forget a South African bird book – or an app on your phone.  

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