Marakele National Park is located in South Africa’s picturesque Limpopo Province. Set in the heart of the Waterberg Mountains, its Tswana name means ‘the place of sanctuary’. When opened in 1994 it was shortly known as Kransberg National Park. Since its founding days it expanded to 670 km² (260 mi²). An abundance of wildlife can be found here, as the park is positioned in the transitional zone between the dry western and moister eastern regions of South Africa.
The park is home to four of the big five. Elephants, lions, white and black rhinos and leopards all live within this natural sanctuary, surrounded by vegetation that has a prehistoric feel to it. Tree ferns, 5-meter-high cycads, and rare species of yellowwood and cedar trees all grow here. The highlights of a visit include sightings of the endangered Cape vultures, which can be encountered if driving to Sentech Tower. More than 800 breeding pairs have settled in Marakele and a sighting offers a breath-taking experience of a special kind. 14 of the notorious ‘Tuli elephants’ - babies that were captured in Botswana and then held in horrible conditions - were released into Marakele National Park, after a prolonged legal and media battle. They are considered the lucky ones of the Tuli elephants and have integrated well into the Marakele herd. Rarely seen species of antelope can be found in Marakele, including reedbuck, mountain reedbuck, eland and tsessebe, as well as the spiral-horned kudu. The scenery in the park is stunning and can be best appreciated if driving to the top of the Waterberg massif. Near the camps, chacma baboons and vervet monkeys can be observed in their mischievous interactions with the environment.
Marakele is best known for bird watching, game drives, bush walks and the 4x4 eco trail. Both morning and sunset drives are available. The park has several campsites; Tlopi tented camp offers a tent with wheelchair access.
Summers are hot but not as humid as other regions of the eastern Lowveld. Heavy thunderstorms or soft rains bring the much needed rainfall throughout summer. Winters are moderate with pleasant day temperatures and frost only occurs in the low-lying areas. Between the 1st of May to 31st of August the park is open between 6 AM and 5.30 PM. The opening hours are extended until 6 PM between the 1st of September and 30th of April.