Our friend from Amsterdam came to visit, and for our June safari we booked a three night stay in the beautiful Waterberg biosphere region. It’s an easy drive from Joburg and it took us less than 4 hours. Marataba Safari Lodge is situated in a private – Big Five – concession within the Marakele National Park in Limpopo.
Marataba is a luxury lodge, with tented chalets each offering a lot of privacy and beautiful views. The waterhole in front of our tent attracted herds of elephants every day .
June can be chilly, but the tents are comfortably warm and I found a hot water bottle in my bed every night. Actually, I stole B’s as well, since he didn’t use it. These are the kind of considerate service touches that I can appreciate. The lodge also offers every guest their own personal water bottle with their name on it. You can fill it up from the water tank whenever you need drinking water and take it home afterwards as a souvenir. Also, our ranger also provided hot water bottles in the vehicle for the morning drives which, believe me, was no luxury because it was freakin’ cooooold!! We started each day around 6.30am dressed in a minimum of 4 layers of clothing, woolen hats, huddled underneath blankets (with multiple hot water bottles firmly in my lap) and we ended the morning drive around 9.30am in T-shirts, putting sunscreen on our faces. Evening drives were the other way around, but not as extreme.
The scenery around Marakele is very diverse and I’m not exaggerating when I say it is breathtaking. Thick thorny bushes, gorgeous mountain views, stretched open plains and plenty of water, Marakele has it all.
One of interesting side effects of small lodge safari is that you will know everyone after 3 days. We enjoyed a wine-filled night with another couple, gossiping about the other guests and in particular about the loud lady in the hot pink wellies (aka miss Pinky Boots) who kept bragging about the glimpse of a leopard she alone had seen while everyone else was not looking.
We did see a leopard on our last day though. It crossed the road and disappeared into the bush. Too bad Pinky Boots wasn’t there to witness. We also had a couple of nice lion sightings, a few mad elephants and, my personal favorite, and a gorgeously beautiful large owl staring us down from a branch.
The lodge offers the possibility to trade an evening game drive for a river trip on their boat, which they named Miss Mara. It comes with a surcharge, but I can recommend it. Watching the scenery from the water gives a new perspective and it is a fab place for sundowners. Unfortunately, the water ranger, if that’s what he is called, could not shut up and made us listen to his life story. Thank god for double G&Ts.
Around mid-day, we also joined a bush walk, which sounded more exciting than it was. We walked in a circle on the plains, and learned to spot a poisonous onion and some very old buffalo dung. I love birds and plants so had expected a bit more. The whole walk just didn’t seem very inspired. But apparently the excitement was that there could have been a lion lurking behind that termite hill…
Food and wine selection are excellent. The staff is attentive and they remember which wines you like. Watch out for the little monkeys in the trees, who will steal your food if you walk away from your table!
A 3-night safari is ideal to get the best game viewing and to connect a bit with the ranger and other guests. Marataba is a lovely place and I can recommend it to everyone. Its service is attentive, the surroundings are beautiful, game viewing is good and we made some new friends as well.
Best: Beautiful scenery! Service with great attention to detail.
Worst: Wouldn’t recommend the mid day bush walk
Booked through: Exclusively Africa
Marataba Safari Lodge