THABAZIMBI – The Marakele National Park in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains, as its Tswana name suggests, has become a ‘place of sanctuary’ for an impressive variety of wildlife due to its location in the transitional zone between the dry western and moister eastern regions of South Africa. The park is characterised by contrasting majestic mountain landscapes, grass-clad hills and deep valleys. Rare finds of yellowwood and cedar trees, five metre high cycads and tree ferns, are some of the plant species found here and Marakele supports 765 plant species. The mountain top towers are a must. A narrow tar road takes visitors up to the top of the Waterberg massif. Views and scenery are spectacular. Marakele is home to most of the large mammals synonymous with the African bush, including elephant, black and white rhino, buffalo, leopard and cheetah. Large Predators such as cheetah, wild dog, brown hyena, leopard and now also lion, occur in the park. The wild dogs have been the first of these re-introductions. Resident antelope include, sable, kudu, eland, impala, waterbuck, tsessebe and many smaller species. Chacma baboon and vervet monkey are two species to be watched carefully for mischief, particularly around the rest camps. Bird watching is one of the biggest attractions amongst the Marakele National Park activities. There are around 400 types of birds in this area. The park hosts one of the world’s largest breeding pairs of Cape Vulture colonies which is an endangered species. While birds may be seen in the air catching thermals anywhere in the park, the drive up to the Sentech Towers is nearest to the colony and close encounters with these enormous birds will leave visitors breathless. Other birds to keep an eye out on the high ground for are raptors such as the African hawk eagle, jackal buzzard, Cape rock thrush to name but a few. On the low bushveld look out for the purple roller, brubru, white helmetshrike, black cuchooshrike and several waxbills.
Game drives take visitors to the core of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve – a wilderness experience with qualified and experienced Field Guides / Rangers in the park. This Limpopo nature reserve in South Africa has a high density of both Black and White Rhino and most visitors should see these animals, in particular the more gregarious and diurnal White Rhino.Other great sights include the Kudu bulls with their magnificent spiral horns, and antelope species such as Reedbuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Eland and Tsessebe which are not often seen elsewhere. Game drives can be booked at the stall at Thabazimbi Game and Tourism Expo or at the reception desk at the Expo for R140 per adult and R70 per child. The three hour drives take place at 06:00 in the morning and at 16:00 in the afternoons and guests are transported from the Expo grounds. Day visitors can take a drive through the park and go to the look out point at R22 per person. The Gate Hours are from 07:00 to 18:00
The reception office is open from 07:30 to 17:00 in winter and 07:30 to 18:00 in summer. Guided tours are also offered at R180 per person and leaves from the gate at 06:00. Remember to bring a camera, binoculars, bird and wildlife reference books, a hat and sunscreen lotion as it can become very hot in the sun. For more information regarding these offers visit their stall at the Thabazimbi Game and Tourism expo or contact them at 014 7776929.