Saturday – On the way in and the first day
We left Jo’burg, with our little sedan packed to the hilt (as there are NO restaurants or shops inside the Park) and decided to take the route to Marakele via Brits - Big mistake
but at least we knew we could come home via Warmbaths now called Bela Bela, also a Big Mistake
As we approached Thabazimbi (meaning Mountain of Iron) the temperature gauge started to rise dramatically, hitting 39O
C in Thabazimbi.
We checked in at Reception, very friendly staff – but there is no info of what to expect in the park and fortunately I did a bit of research on the Forum beforehand. A simple map is handed out with your permit stapled to it.
After five minutes in the park the temperature climbed again… and I had to take this picture..
Please remember when seeing this number – there is NO AirCon in the tents
Luckily for me, most of the roads are sand, which forced SO to drive slowly (10kph, see above photo
) This was the main contributing factor of our special sighting!
But that comes later. .
There were very few animals and birds about due to the midday heat and we slowly drove towards Tlopi Tented Camp –
The Park is sort of divided into two, by a railway line, which you drive under via a subway to get to Tlopi, after the subway there is an electric gate and the pressing of a button is required for it to open.
Fortunately; hardly any other vehicles around (only mad dogs and Englishman etc etc. . ) and that kept the dust levels low. The dust and stones/rocks in the park are red – this is because of the high iron content in the soil (remember the meaning of Thabazimbi)
It took us about an hour or so to travel the 17kms to the camp. We had been allocated No. 3 Jacana (If you are planning a trip try and get Cormorant
). It is under trees and has a better view!
The views are simply wonderful from the camp. .
We saw this Bushbuck having a drink across the water
All the Safari tents are on the edge of the dam with a very similar view. The tents are built on wooden decks raised above the water.
The camp is UNFENCED, but no Lion in the Park (I hope). Leopard would surely be around, and there's Rhino, both Black & White.
We unpacked the car and took note of the sign warning us that “The Monkeys & Baboons know how to open the fridge and cupboards and can get into the tents”. Do not take food into the tents, as they damage the tents trying to get to the food”
Our “Honeymoon” neighbours choose to ignore the warning and the resident Monkey’s raided their fridge scattering the contents all over the place. The guests in a tent a bit further away choose to feed the Monkey’s slices of bread
No wonder they have become pests.
Later in the afternoon, we could see Impala and Warthog coming to drink. The view from our patio was just gorgeous!
I added a few new birds to my “life” list and this “ White Breasted Cormorant “ is one of them
Next to Tent was Ellie poo, but we did not see or hear any Elephants anywhere?
and you can see how close the next tent is
Marakele is “in” the Waterberg Mountain Range and the scenery is breathtakingly beautiful.
As the sun set, it cooled down and a light breeze sprung up.
The tents lighting has been well planned and there is a spotlight onto the braai – which is so convenient
This made braaing a very easy, instead of trying to hold a torch or lamp to see how much you had burnt the meat! You could use both hands to see the charred remains
The night sky from Marakele is a stargazers dream – there is NO light pollution at all, it is pitch dark and the stars and planets are amazingly bright.
While braaing, we spotted hordes of fireflys at the waters edge – how special is that, their little headlights flicking on and off
We went to sleep quite early, as the heat was exhausting – The “Honeymooners” woke us up after we had been asleep for an hour and chatted late into the night. The tents are VERY close together, so we could follow their conversation without a problem! Be warned, if you are planning a visit.
Eventually they shut-up and we got back to sleep, dreaming of an exceptional sighting
we were sure we would have the next day
. . .to be continued