Marakele National Park – Merging of Ecosystems

Marakele National Park, located in the magnificent Waterberg Mountains of the Limpopo Province some 250 km from Johannesburg, is noted for its varied landscape, rare vegetation and grand animal life. Marakele is a Tswana name meaning 'place of sanctuary', an apt description of the National Park. Situated on a habitat transitional zone, Marakele National Park boasts diverse wildlife and great game-viewing opportunities.

As mentioned, Marakele National Park takes in a transitional area between the dry western habitat and the moister eastern sections of South Africa. As such, the park encompasses valleys, mountains and verdant hills. Within the bounds of Marakele visitors will discover rare yellowwood, massive cycads, cedars and tree ferns. Amongst the wildlife inhabiting the park are elephants, rhinoceros (both black and white), buffalo, giraffe, eland, hippopotamus, kudu and waterbuck as well as lion and spotted hyena. Marakele National Park is truly a birder’s paradise. Topping the list of birding attractions is the over 800 breeding pairs of Cape Vultures, the largest population in the World. Because of its situation across a transition zone, the bird species are far more varied. Bird watchers should keep an eye out for raptors such as the gymnogene, jackal buzzard, African hawk eagle, brown snake eagle and Wahlberg’s Eagle. Spot a number of species such as the Cape rock thrush, mountain chat, greater double-collared sunbird, mocking chat and swee waxbill on the high grounds. In low bushveld and woodlands you are likely to see the purple roller, brubru, white helmetshrike, black cuckooshrike, whitecrowned shrike, blackcheeked waxbills and blue waxbills. Also not to be missed are the various bee-eaters.

At present the Marakele National Park is made up of two sections divided by a gravel public road, Hoopdal Road. They are the Greater Marakele National Park and Kwaggasvlakte. By following a narrow tar road up the Waterberg massif, you will come out to a fantastic look-out point. Stand and look out over the panorama as vultures soar on the thermals nearby. Game drives lead by experienced guides provide you with excellent views of the animal life as well as the 765 plant species of Marakele. Hiking is also popular on designated trails through the National Park. Accommodation at Marakele National Park is available at Bontle Camping Site and Tlopi Tented Camp as well as at nearby lodges. Take a break from the madness of the cities and get in touch with nature at Marakele National Park in Limpopo.

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