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Marakele Trip Reports : 2005

Tell us about your breathtaking experiences in the parks
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report on Marakele

Unread post by simonbee » Fri Mar 25, 2005 5:57 am

Just returned from a 3 night stay at Marakele where we stayed at the Tlopi tented camp overlooking the dam.

The park is divided into two distinct sections. The Kwaggasvlakte area where the main reception is and the Greater Park area where the Bush Camp and Tlopi Tented Camp are. The Kwaggasvlakte area is accessible to all vehicles, with smooth sandy roads. Here you will find all sorts of antelope, giraffe, ostrich etc, but no cats, elephants, etc. There is a picnic spot here with clean toilets and a separate camp site.

If you want to explore the Greater Park area you most definitely need a 4x4. The tracks here are very rough and unmade. However, for those of you without such vehicles, you will still be able to visit the towers, which is the highest point in the park as this road (19km) is tarred. On our trip, whilst driving around, we saw eland, wildebeest, zebra, hartebeest, impala, kudu, grey rhebok and rhino. We also saw lots of birdlife, but unfortunately, being the very amateur twitchers we are, we had left our bird book at home. Last time we will do that. I would describe the park more as one of outstanding natural beauty rather than one obviously full of wildlife.

Our best animal sightings came from the veranda of our luxury tent. Here we saw giraffe, kudu, impala, Nyala, Warthogs, Baboons, Vervet Monkeys, 3 rhino and the highlight by far, wild dogs. They seemed to be fairly resident in the area. On our first morning at the camp, we witnessed 2 impala jumping into the dam to escape 2 wild dogs who then stood on the bank for approx 10 minutes watching the impala try to swim away. We were hoping for a kill, but no such luck. Then, in the evening, whilst having sundowners, we saw what must have been the whole pack of dogs, between 15 and 20 in number, appear. A few of them started to half heartedly chase a wildebeest. We thought that again we would be unable to see any kill. Next second, all hell broke lose on the bank right opposite us as an impala ran for safely. It got no more than 5 yards before being brought down by the dogs. Within seconds the whole pack were there, having their share of the spoils. All of this whilst having a beer on our veranda! The dogs then played and relaxed for about 20 minutes before wandering off. They appeared again the next morning, trotting along the bank of the dam and off into the bush!

Marakele is definitely somewhere I want to go back to, ideal for a weekend away from the stresses of life where you can unwind and recharge your batteries. The scenery is superb, the solitude fantastic and the wild dogs out of this world!

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Marakele Trip Report - No more 4x4 required

Unread post by Johannes » Mon Apr 25, 2005 11:04 am

Marakele National Park
23 & 24 April 2005

We just returned from a weekend at Marakele National Park and would like to share our experience.

Based on the same trip done around 13 months ago our expectations were high. We even invited friends along to join in on the experience.

We love the outdoors and add in game viewing in conjunction with 4x4 off-road conditions makes for an unforgettable time away from home.

On Saturday we set out to do our game viewing in the part of the park accessible to 4x4 vehicles only. We visited the lookout point and then commenced to tackle the off-road section.

To our dismay and utter disappointment the circle route underwent major civil construction. Rocks were removed and lie strewn along the road and filling material brought in to smooth out the road. We were wondering if these rocks would be removed or will their fate be to for ever lay there, defacing the surroundings immediately alongside the road. (Photos’s available should you be interested) What previously took around 2 and a half hours to traverse now were watered down to an uncomfortable bumpy drive of around 45 minutes to an hour. We could have done this in a normal bakkie or combi. You don’t need 4x4 anymore! We saw people doing the track in a Condor, not the 4x4 version though. This was not mentioned during our reservation thus the dissapointment.

To add to the frustration game were limited or actually almost nowhere to be seen. Was it not for the Rhino standing in the middle of the road on our way out the exercise would almost have been fruitless.

Our issues are as follows:
If one is informed about conditions one can prepare for them or decide not to visit.

We agree to some degree that in order to attract visitors across the spectrum without excluding people not fortunate enough to own a 4x4, progress in the form of road upgrading must be done, but once again, don’t exclude those of us willing to travel some distance for just that type of experience without informing us about the current state of affairs.

Additional roads were made in the area where traditionally normal vehicles were allowed to drive without updating the route map provided at the entrance gate. This posed a problem as navigation was eventually done without the map on a “gut feelâ€Â

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Re: Marakele - No more 4x4 required!!!

Unread post by Erwin » Thu Apr 28, 2005 2:28 pm

Johannes wrote:Marakele National Park
23 & 24 April 2005

You don’t need 4x4 anymore! We saw people doing the track in a Condor, not the 4x4 version though. This was not mentioned during our reservation thus the dissapointment.

It is always the intention of SANParks to make the stay of their park’s visitors as enjoyable and comfortable as possible. This also applies to the condition of roads in and around their parks. In Marakele’s case it is not to supply a true-blue 4x4 off-road experience but to rather warn the visitors that these roads should not be traveled by sedans. The idea is to concentrate on the viewing of wildlife and definitely not Camel-Manning through the bushes. Expect those same roads to become even better and duly maintained in the future.

Additional roads were made in the area where traditionally normal vehicles were allowed to drive without updating the route map provided at the entrance gate. This posed a problem as navigation was eventually done without the map on a “gut feelâ€Â
why walk if you can run?...why run if you can fly...?

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Unread post by Andreas Cierpka » Mon May 23, 2005 11:41 am

We just returned from our trip to RSA. The park is splitted into two areas. The area where the caravan park is on is accessable via a normal car.

The bush camp can be reached by driving carfully and the tended camp can be accessed without any problems using the "back door entry". The key will be provided at the main reception. The roads in this area are rough and an normal car gets damaged fairly easy.

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Marakele Trip Reports

Unread post by Jehanne F » Fri Aug 12, 2005 3:52 pm

Visit to Marakele was very enjoyable :D
Would defenitaly go back.
The next sp. were spotted: Kudu, Giraffe, Baboon, Impala, White Rhino, Impala, Tsessebe, Red Hartebeest, just to mention a few.
A Lot of bird sp. , but the vultures were not to be found. One frog and two reptile sp. were also seen.

The only short coming of our trip was, that there were no sp. list available, aswell as no "Park bages".The road map is a bit misleading. I know that the park is still under development, and would be a Park to be rekkend with, appon conpletion

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Unread post by francoisd » Fri Aug 12, 2005 4:25 pm

Thanks Jehanne F. I had a look at the website and the mention that most of the roads are only accesible by 4x4. What type of off roading are they talking about? Sand, stone etc. Is it serious off road or should most people with little off road skill be able to visit?

The tents looks great!
"The measure of life is not its duration but its donation." - Peter Marshall

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Unread post by Jehanne F » Fri Aug 12, 2005 7:47 pm

I'm not an expert in off-roading.
The roads are not that bad, there are areas with a lot of lose sand, and areas with rocky patches.

I have a Nissan Hardbody,4x2, and I were able to drive on all the roads.
With lack of experience in off-roading, we got stuck in very lose sand.

Thats how a person learns, I guess?

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Enjoyable visit to Marakele

Unread post by Gazer » Mon Aug 15, 2005 1:00 pm

We visited Marakele during the extended weekend 5 – 9 August 2005. Bontle campsite is an experience because it is not fenced in and we will definitely visit again. The resident begging ostrich is a nuisance and underlines the inability of people not to feed animals. The atmosphere in the campsite was relaxed and it is amazing to see how easy going people are when they unwind.

Driving on the Bontle side of the park is easy and accessible to any type of car. There was one road for 4x4 only. Game viewing from the campsite produces better results than driving in this part. We only drove around to get to different birding habitats.

The drive along the tarred road to the cell phone mast is a great event and most of us would like to do it more than once when in the park. We saw a rock elephant shrew at the lookout point as well as cape vultures.

The rest of the roads on this side of the park require a 4x4 vehicle and sensible driving. The one morning a person drove with his double cab 4X2 in front of us and managed with a lot of wheel spin. We saw very little game and birds on the 4x4 roads although the scenery was splendid.

It would be a huge plus if management could erect a hide for non-residents at the dam at Tlopi tented camp. I respect the wish of residents to have privacy and silence but it would be the only place where the Bontle campers could stake out wild dogs and other elusive game.

Marakele is a great park, growing in stature and definitely worth a visit.

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Unread post by lam » Sun Sep 11, 2005 1:43 pm

francoisd wrote:Thanks,

Not an off roader myself (yet). We normally fly up from Cape Town and borrow my in-law's Landrover for Kruger etc. Just wondered how 4x4 skilled you will have to be to visit Marakele.

4x4 roads aren't tough, just horribly bumpy. Wouldn't recommend doing the ones in the main part of the park.

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