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 Post subject: Sandeep - Marakele - well worth it - February 2011
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 8:45 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:02 pm
Posts: 79
Location: India
Hi all
I have not been able to post this TR easily on the site, so will do it over 3 posts…
I was in Marakele for a few days in early Feb. To start with, unfortunately there is limited information about Marakele, and if you are not South African, the lack of info makes a visit to Marakele an even greater challenge. I did get the maximum info and knowledge about Marakele from this forum, so here is my bit to add to the info about Marakele.
I would like to make a suggestion for Sanparks – the map of Marakele needs some working on and you need to add distances between various points on the map – I did get confused more than once and while I am a bit daft when it comes to navigational skills, I would request some work to go into this.
Anyone wanting to visit Marakele should consider a 4x4 or at least a SUV with higher ground clearance. There are limited paths to traverse in the park and a normal sedan would struggle at some stretches.
We stayed at the Tlopi camp, which is in the ‘big 5’ section of the park. The ‘small 5’ section of the park has the popular Bontle Camping site and a fair amount of game in terms of zebra, giraffe, various antelopes and rhino. ( The terms big 5 and small 5 sections are from the park map and do not mean to offend anyone :) )Driving from the entrance gate thru the ‘small 5’ section we also spotted a baby rhino with Big Momma running away after a mud bath – unfortunately the pic is not sharp.

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Once we crossed over into the ‘big 5’ section, it took ages for us to spot any animal in the thick bush and hilly terrain. We decided to leave the hill climb for the next day and instead drive around the Mdibi loop and there our first surprise sighting of the trip – a herd of eland :). We saw the usual suspects but little else in terms of animal sightings which could in any way cause a cheer to be raised.

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However the drive around was an experience by itself and the tented accommodation at Tlopi which is unfenced, more than makes up for the lack of game. It is serene and has a magnificent view. There was a resident cormorant – I am guessing resident since it did not leave its tree perch in the dam for the 3 days that we were there – but did not spot any fish eagles. Even though I read a fair bit about the monkey menace, we did not encounter any problems whatsoever – we did notice that someone had pushed a chair under the fridge handle :), presumably to keep the monkeys at bay.

To be continued...


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 Post subject: Re: Marakele - well worth it
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:37 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:02 pm
Posts: 79
Location: India
..part 2...
The next day was a drive to the top of the mountain – Lenong drive – going by some of the reports on this forum, I had expected a tough drive with steep mountain sides, but it is a comfortable drive, yes the road is narrow and in places cars cannot pass side by side, but it is not that steep and if you do not suffer from vertigo, shouldn’t really be an issue. View while driving up

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On the way up we spotted a single reedbuck stag and red hartebeest.

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At the top the klipspringer did not disappoint, and he was expected thanks to this forum :). We saw a dead cape vulture at the top with its skeleton partly exposed – no idea how long it could have been dead. Also saw the vultures flying and riding the thermals, but at a fair distance. The views around are tremendous and would recommend that you spend some time at the top.

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On the way down saw these very pretty flowers – I have no idea about flowers, but just in case someone finds them interesting…

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For those interested in raptors, the flavour of the trip was the steppe buzzard. To be honest it was the only raptor we saw, but there were quite a few of them. Wonder if anyone has ever worked out why they fly such a long distance when they can get the warmer climate without actually having to fly so much south…??? Would love to hear anyone’s views on this. Amongst the other birds, the white fronted bee eaters and the striped kingfisher were the highlights.

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To be continued...


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 Post subject: Re: Marakele - well worth it
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:48 am 
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Senior Virtual Ranger
Senior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Wed Oct 08, 2008 3:56 pm
Posts: 9541
Location: CH - Lugano
Lovely scenery and beautiful birds :clap: :clap: :thumbs_up: :popcorn:

the flower is a protea, don't ask me which one :wink: It is the south african national flower.


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 Post subject: Re: Marakele - well worth it
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:14 am 
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Junior Virtual Ranger
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Joined: Tue May 19, 2009 2:15 pm
Posts: 1892
Location: Johannesburg - too far from the closest Sanpark
Sugarbush Protea - Protea caffra
I'm surprised there were so few raptors. We saw plenty on Welgevonden this past weekend. Most were Steppe Buzzards though.

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The 'mite formerly known as joshilewis

FGASA Level 1 Guide

Glen Reenen TR

15-18 June: Berg-en-dal


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 Post subject: Re: Marakele - well worth it
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 24, 2011 10:32 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:02 pm
Posts: 79
Location: India
We decided to do an evening game drive with the ranger and this report would be incomplete without a glowing reference to Sidney the ranger, whose cheerful disposition and immense knowledge made both the drive and the morning bush walk , well worth the experience. If anyone from Marakele reads this and can say hi to Sidney from my side, I will be most obliged.
The highlight of the evening drive was the time spent with a breeding herd of elephants. This was a large herd with calves of various sizes, shapes and temperaments :). Seeing the young ones mock charge and play about was great. We were also lucky in spotting a brown hyena just off the Lekganyane drive, but did not get a pic since it disappeared into the bush far too quickly. We then had another slice of luck mingled with poor photographic luck – we saw a black rhino on the Mdibi loop, but he too went into the bush before we could ask him to pose for us. As it grew dark we switched on the spot lights and just before we got back to camp we saw a porcupine crossing the road – I had just mentioned that the sun was down and it was porcupine time :)

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The next day was the morning bush walk, and the presence of a bull elephant who we chanced upon while getting close to 6 rhinos, added to the knowledge and charm of a bush walk.

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While leaving the park we came across a rock agama and a tree agama - brilliant camouflage on the tree agama...

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For those of you living in and around Jo’berg/ Pretoria, please feel blessed. It is only 3 and a half hours from one of nature’s hot spots. For those of us who may live thousands of miles away (like me), if you are looking for a quick fix, big 5 shot, then maybe Marakele is not the place for you, however it has everything that the bush has to offer plus a hilly terrain which is not like something you may have already done in places like Kruger. And then it has Tlopi tented camp which can be compared positively with any of the Sanpark rest camps.
Good luck to all those who will be lucky enough to visit Marakele in the days to come.
Cheers
Sandeep


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 Post subject: Re: Marakele - well worth it
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2011 7:34 am 
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Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2011 1:02 pm
Posts: 79
Location: India
Sorry for carrying on the TR, but for those bird lovers who are interested, forgot to post the pics of Gurney Sugarbirds taken at the top of the mountain - Lenong drive

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