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 Post subject: WendyA's WendyA and Heksie do Marakele! May '13
Unread postPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 1:51 pm 
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So, Heksie came over the other night for an MMC and we decided to have a quick weekend getaway to Marakele!

We've booked a spot at Bontle Camping site for next Friday and Saturday nights (24 and 25 May). The plan of attack is that Heksie will come over to me next Friday afternoon when she finishes work (around 2pm) and we'll head off on our new adventure!

We are both Marakele virgins so have no idea what to expect. We know it won't be Kruger, but we are looking forward to spectacular scenery and a chilled (and no doubt chilly!) weekend away from the city.

Any words of wisdom, advice, tips and hints are welcome.

We hope to do a short, "live" TR from the park ...

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Fri May 17, 2013 3:53 pm 
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Fab! We are both very excited and really looking forward to it. As you know, we are both bird-lovers, so I'm sure we won't be disappointed even if we STILL don't find our brownie!!!

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 10:15 am 
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PNF wrote:
Any idea of what route you're going to take to get there?
Chilly? well, we think that it is chilly when the temp. goes below 20C and freezing when it hits 10C :twisted:
Nights will be cool enough for some Amarula night caps but you won't (shouldn't?) get frost...............
Hi PNF! Good to "see" you here - I think the last time we met was in the Kruger in December!

As for our route, I think the N1 to Bela Bela then the R516 ... The other option is the N4 to Rustenburg then the R511 to Thabazimbi and the R510 from there. Not sure ... :hmz: I believe some of the roads are in really poor condition with potholes that will almost swallow a car. I hope someone will be able to give us some helpful advice regarding the best route.

I am exactly the same as you regarding the temperature! Even the past couple of weeks when the temperature has been in the low-mid 20s I've had the thermals, woolly jumpers and scarves out! We will definitely be drinking MMCs to keep warm and I'm thinking about mulled wine and maybe some OBS as well!!!

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 3:57 pm 
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Eish... Cold weather and no MMC :slap: what to do? Well maybe I should let Wendy do all the driving then :hmz:
Thanks for all the great tips-definitely will pack a few jackets!
Can't wait! Want to see my first brownie ever so holding thumbs already!!!!!

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Sat May 18, 2013 5:13 pm 
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WendyA wrote:

As for our route, I think the N1 to Bela Bela then the R516 ... The other option is the N4 to Rustenburg then the R511 to Thabazimbi and the R510 from there. Not sure ... :hmz: I believe some of the roads are in really poor condition with potholes that will almost swallow a car. I hope someone will be able to give us some helpful advice regarding the best route.

I am exactly the same as you regarding the temperature! Even the past couple of weeks when the temperature has been in the low-mid 20s I've had the thermals, woolly jumpers and scarves out!


Hi Wendy - N1..R516..R511 is the way to go. The R516 from Bela Bela for the first 30/35 kms is a bit narrow (the shoulders have crumbled and haven't been repaired :roll: ) a few smallish potholes here and there but not big enough to swallow a car and some weird roller-coaster type bumps in a couple of places but the rest of the 90 odd kms is fine - the scenery is also quite enjoyable! Apart from that hiccup - the going is good.
The alternative is to use the R101 from Hammanskraal to Bela Bela instead of the N1 ........ a few potholes but single lane and overtaking cross-border trucks who are avoiding tollgates can be difficult.

Haven't got as far as thermals and scarves yet........ but woolly jumpers are the IN thing :) A couple of jackets, warm track suits and a good supply of OB's are definitely a must...........

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Thu May 23, 2013 9:03 am 
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Nog 1 slapie!
I'm in brownie mode now!!!! Have never seen one! :w:

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Fri May 24, 2013 7:20 pm 
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Greetings from Marakele!!!! We made it JUST IN TIME - we arrived at reception at 5:25pm!!! I'd printed off google directions and had PNF's directions too but I am such a SatNav follower!!! We ended up driving about 75kms on a dirt road - still we saw impala and warties on the way so all good!!!

We are sitting under our "virgin" gazebo with our two "virgin" tents up! I did take a pic to share but there's only EDGE reception so I'm afraid the photos will have to wait till we are back in civilisation!

The charcoal is nearly ready for our braai - it's wors, mielies and tomato for dinner - YUM YUM!

Unfortunately we didn't get a spot by the waterhole but we have a lekker camp set up. We were a bit taken aback by the sign when we arrived - "Please note that the camping site is not fenced and you could encounter wild animals in these areas ... Please be especially vigilant at night - the use of a torch is strongly recommended"!!!

It could be an interesting night for us Marakele virgins!!!

Heksie has planned our route tomorrow and we will fill you in when we return to camp tomorrow evening.

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 3:18 pm 
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Well, we had a lovely day today after our FREEZING night last night.

There were loads of noises throughout the night including jackals, lions, hyena, wildebeest, zebra and impala. Luckily for us, we didn’t hear anything that sounded like it was close to our tents.

We were up just after 5am and had a few MMCs to warm us up before leaving camp at 6:30am – we figured there wasn’t much point leaving any earlier as it was still pitch black.

We had a lovely drive around the park and up the mountain to where you can see the vulture colony then we drove back to camp where we are having a few lazy chilled hours before heading out again around 3:30pm. I was hoping to have a nap but the sun is shining right onto the tent and it is SO hot inside I decided to sit outside under the gazebo and do a bit of TR catch up! The ostriches have been walking through camp and as I am typing this, a little warthog family are on their knees nibbling away at the grass right next to us!

Our sightings this morning were as follows:-

Kudu
Impala
Wildebeest
Warties
Blackbacked jackal
Tsessebe
Zebra
Unmentionables
Slender mongoose
Reedbuck
Baboons
Dassie
Ellies
Giraffe (making its way down to the waterhole as we drove back into camp!)
Ostrich (loads around the waterhole and in camp!)

The scenery really is beautiful – it actually reminds me of Ithala in KZN.

We are very impressed with the management in the park – the ablutions in the camp and at one of the picnic spots we stopped off at this morning really are spotless.; that said, the long drop at the lookout spot where you can see the vultures is a bit worse for wear …

As for the roads, this side of the park (before you cross under the road and through the fence into the bit where there are lions) is not that bad at all and could easily be done in a sedan car. The roads on the other side (around Tlopi) are pretty bad – we were in 1st/2nd gear most of the time. Heksie was just commenting about how she would have ripped the exhaust and petrol tank off of her car (some of the holes are deeper that the drop into the causeway at Shing!!! )when we saw a Mercedes that had managed to negotiate the roads so you don’t HAVE to have a 4x4.

Right, I think it's time to wake Heksie up and venture out to see what we can see this afternoon ...

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Last edited by WendyA on Sat May 25, 2013 6:41 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Sat May 25, 2013 6:54 pm 
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Hi Trrp-trrrrrrrr! We did have some really good sightings and as I said before, the scenery is just beautiful. I think being here at this time of year (although freezing at night) is great during the day as there are so many different colours of leaves on the trees.

We had a lovely drive this afternoon with some more stunning sightings. We added Nyala on to our sightings list - a beautiful male who was shy and wouldn't post for nice photos.

We are amazed by the number of warties here and the size of them - some of them are huge!

We came across a male and two female ostriches in the road and it was fun driving behind them for a while - every now and then they would start running and would look quite comical.

Quite a few more new birdies for me - a white helmeted shrike, a rock bunting and a pied babler to name a few!

Lamb chops, butternut and tomatoes on the braai now. Side panels going on the gazebo tonight to try and keep us a bit warmer!

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Sun May 26, 2013 4:35 pm 
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Hello! We are back from a great weekend in Marakele. We went on an early morning game drive and added 2 new animals on to our sightings list! I need to download the photos from my camera then upload them on to Photobucket. I hope to be able to post a few tomorrow.

We left Marakele around 11am and decided to go via Thabazimbi and Brits - we were back in Pretoria at 1:30!

We really had a lovely weekend.

Thanks for following and for posting messages.

More info about the park and the camp with photos to follow.

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 6:46 am 
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Is was fantastic!!!!!
All I can say is that it was very COLD!!!!
Eish man I have a bit of frostbite on my nether regions :slap:
I had lions waking me up @ 4:20 Sunday morning and roaring until 6:00. It was amazing!

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 5:20 pm 
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Thanks to all of you who are following this TR :gflower: :gflower: :gflower: and especially to all of you who are commenting :k :k :k

As Heksie said, it was REALLY cold but we really did have such a good time.

I have had a quick look at my photos - just over 200; not bad for a weekend getaway!

I'm just going through them now and picking out the ones to post, will re-size, get on to Photobucket then start adding them to the TR for you to see.

Be back very soon ...

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Mon May 27, 2013 6:42 pm 
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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.

Image

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.

Image

I think it was 11pm when we climbed into our tents for our first FREEZING night in Marakele.

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 8:52 am 
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Philip...
Eish man! As I wasn't prepared for the cold night I didn't sleep most of it as I was shivering to my bones... I had to have and afternoon nap...

NPF
We did drive the rooiberg road hahahahah :lol:

Wendy
Nee man! I have faith in your driving just not on that bloody road which gave me almost a heart attack! :big_eyes:

CarolG
I will bring back the golden kitties in July when I will be back there :w:
This weekdn I'm hopefully finishing my TR as well :thumbs_up:

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 Post subject: Re: WendyA and Heksie do Marakele!
Unread postPosted: Tue May 28, 2013 8:39 pm 
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Heksie and I were both up just after 5am the following morning. It was VERY cold. We sat and had a few MMCs while trying to thaw out before venturing into the car and into the park. The rest of the camp site was silent … we were the only ones up; what was going on??? This was very different from Kruger!

We set off at 6:30am leaving the rest of the camp sleeping. Here are some of our sightings:-

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image


Image

We decided that there was a new species in Marakele; the warties were HUGE so we figured there had been some breeding amongst the rhinos and warties … we called our new species WARNOS. Here’s a photo of a warno …

Image

We took the road up to the top of the mountain; the height didn’t bother us but we did wonder what we’d do if we came across another car coming in the other direction – the road was SO narrow and the drop would have been a LONG way down!

We were still pondering that thought when we turned a corner to find elephant dung in the road … never mind another car, imagine turning a corner on that road and coming across an elephant!!!

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