Marakele – June 2003

Marakele is set up as though it is two different reserves – a wild section that can only be accessed by 4x4, except the tented camp, which can be reached with any vehicle, and another reserve area with roads for all vehicles, that has a camping area as well as another tented camp.

We stayed in the tented camp in the wilderness area – Tlopi. It was beautiful and overlooked a dam in front of a mountain. The tent was on a wooden platform with a wooden built bathroom at the back.

There was only one problem – it was freezing! The sun would only come over the mountain at 9am and it would disappear again between 3 and 4pm. It was fine when the sun was on the tent but otherwise we slept tucked in with socks, beanies, and multiple blankets and covers!

We saw a puff adder outside of the tent next to ours, close to where we parked. Fortunately we only saw it the once!

We took a drive into the main reserve where we saw various antelope and birds, including Southern pied babbler (L).

We also took a drive on the 4x4 section – the wild area. It was really beautiful and we saw some white rhino. It was however also really rocky and hectic in one part. I unfortunately had some back pain and really battled with the trip we made, so we didn’t do any more drives in the area.

We drove up the road around the mountain to the lookout point. It is regarded as a good vantage point for vultures and generally a good birding area. We saw the vultures flying around as indicated in the guides, but we also saw klipspringer, red hartebeest, rock hyrax. On our way up the mountain road we saw Shelley’s francolin (L) and then in the forest area at the top we saw grey-backed cameroptera (L), short-toed rock-thrush (L) and grey tit-flycatcher (L).

We took another trip into the main park area and this time we were lucky to see lesser bushbabies out in the daytime, on a tree. We also saw giraffe, impala, kudu and tree squirrels.

At the tent we saw giraffe and baboons come down to drink at the dam, as well as pied kingfisher and common waxbill.

Our routine was to stay in bed until the sun was over the mountain – it was the only way to keep warm – then either go out for our drive or relax. We always had lunch before the sun went down and then we were generally back in bed with hot drinks in insulated cups, reading with gloves, from 4pm until we were ready to sleep.

We were supposed to stay for 9 nights, but after 5 we decided that we couldn’t take the cold any more. We had to stay another night, but then we went to Hulala Lakeside Lodge for the last 3 nights. There we made a point of having a fire in the room, just because we could!!!