So, we arrived at Marakele with just a few minutes to spare. I must say the 75kms on the dirt road from Bela Bela was a bit scary at times. I was trying to keep my foot down as I was aware that the SatNav showed our arrival time as 17:40 – we had to make up time. Some parts of the dirt road were really sandy and although the car was in 4x4 we were swerving all over the place. I was going “ooooh, ooooh, ooooh” as I was a bit scared – Heksie told me after she thought I was going “ooooh, ooooh, ooooh” cause I was having fun!!!???!!! She also told me when we were safely at Marakele sipping our MMCs that she thought I was going to roll the car – so much in having faith in the one who is driving!!! I told her that I was really worried that we were going to end up with a flat tyre (or two) … some of the rocks on the road looked really jagged. That would have been a nightmare – the back of the car was packed solid and we would have had to unpack to get the jack out; we would have arrived WAY past gate closing time then had to have found somewhere in Thabazimbi to stay … All I can say is thank goodness luck was on our side and we arrived without rolling the car, without having a flat tyre, etc, etc!!!
Just after 5pm when we were still bumping along on the dirt road, my phone rang. It was Reception at Marakele who were reminding me about my reservation! I told them we were on our way but on a dirt road – the SatNav now showed arrival at 17:25 so we should make it in time. I was asked if we had Wild Cards and asked for my car registration. I asked the lady I was speaking to if they would stay open for us to which she replied “Yes, but we close at 5:30pm!” I explained how we should get there on time but that if we weren’t there by 5:30pm, would they please wait for us as we really wouldn’t be long. “We close at 5:30pm was the reply”! Oh well, foot to the floor, we just kept bumping along and saying our prayers!
When we arrived just before 5:30pm and I went into reception I was surprised that our papers were all ready, entry permit, exit permit, map, etc – I wasn’t even asked to show our wild cards as I was led out the door so reception could be locked and the staff could go home!!!
We laughed (rather nervously) at the sign outside the park informing us that the camping site wasn’t fenced; that we could encounter wild animals in the camping site; and that we should be especially vigilant at night!
We drove through to Bontle camping site which is about 1km from Reception. A friend of mine who had stayed there recently told me about the waterhole at the left side of camp. Unfortunately that area, and all the other areas next to the … I was going to say fence, but there wasn’t a fence, just wooden posts with signs saying “Danger, no visitors beyond this point!” … anyway, all the other camping areas next to the “posts” were busy so we found a spot where we could still see the waterhole and where we were close to the ablutions and kitchen area, and that’s where we made our home for the next two nights.
After dinner we put some wood on the fire and sat next to it with our MMCs trying to warm up – it had really cooled down.
I think it was 11pm when we climbed into our tents for our first FREEZING night in Marakele.