Marakele National Park – Bontle Rest Camp.

Marakele National Park, a Big 5 reserve, is close to Thabazimbi in Limpopo. At Bontle rest camp, two types of accommodation are on offer, safari tents and camping. We decided to camp.

The campsite is in the western section of the park where only one of the Big 5, rhinoceros, is found. To see all of the Big 5 you will need to visit the eastern section of the park which is accessible through a tunnel build underneath a public provincial road, with the two sections of the park separated by electric gates on both sides of the tunnel. The campsite is not fenced off from the remainder of the western section, thus allowing rhinoceros to visit your tent for a late afternoon snack – we were very fortunate to have been visited by these huge beasts. Ablution blocks are shared and adequate and electricity is available.

We took a drive up the mountain to Lenong View Point. an amazing view with scenes reminding one of the Drakensberg escarpment in the east of Limpopo, with breathtaking views all along the way. A number of antelope is also to be found in this park. We spent quite a bit of time at two game-viewing points in the park, simply taking in the bushveld atmosphere when no animals were in sight.

With Thabazimbi only a few kilometers away we appreciate the fact that there are no restaurants or shops in the park. take what you need with you and only leave your footprints behind.

This park is close to my heart and I will return whenever I can.

On a personal note. I had the very fortunate experience of soil sampling every square kilometre of the eastern section of this park in the early 1990s, living close to a year in the park. This was shortly after the park was proclaimed and development just started. At that time it was still known as Kransberg National Park. No visitors were allowed and we walked along every stream, taking soil samples all over, taking in amazing scenery, diverse vegetation, and geology. And when I say walk, I mean walk. We were not allowed to drive off any existing tracks in order to conserve vegetation and this possibly was the time in my life I was the fittest ever. We did kilometers every day on foot, going up and down streams, scaling small waterfalls, finding our way through the marsh, avoiding snakes (we frequently encountered black mambas and puff adders), carrying equipment and heavy-duty backpacks. At the end of each day we would trace our footsteps going back to our bakkie but this time our backpacks were filled with soil, wet in most cases. We lived in caravans close to where the current Tlopi campsite is, and later moved to the border of the park on the northeastern side, approaching from Bulge Rivier. Our last campsite was on the southeastern side, approaching from Welgevonden.

Marakele NP, Thabazimbi

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