Marakele National Park in South Africa, an unforgettable African bush experience
Imagine yourself sitting on the wooden deck of
yout safari tent in the Marakele National Park in South Africa, watching the clouds drift by as they
stage an ever changing play, duplicated in the water’s reflection.
Thrilling to the sight of the Cape vultures as they effortlessly ride the currents, looking down
on yellowwood trees and huge cycads and tree ferns.
Being filled with wonder as the fiery orange sun changes into a spectacular blood red ball and
languidly dissolves into burnished copper as it sets behind the mountains and an air of tranquility
At the time of its proclamation in 1994 the Park was known as the Kransberg National Park, named
after the Kransberg mountains, which are part of the Waterberg mountain range.
Shortly after the Park was renamed to the Marakele National Park.
Find out more about this national park with its stunning
“Marakele” is a word in the Tswana language, meaning “ Place of Sanctuary”. This wild and remote nature reserve certainly delivers
what its name implies. Lying in between mountain ranges, it is a perfect setting for an unforgettable African bush experience.
Number 20 on the map below shows the location of Marakele National Park near Thabazimbi, together with the locations
of the other 19 national parks in South Africa.
Click on the map to enlarge Map of South Africa showing the locations of all its national parks
Of the 20 National Parks in SA, Marakele National Park stands out with its beautiful landscape and scenery. The Park is situated in the
southwesten part of the Limpopo province, in the heart of the Waterberg mountain range and about 12 km north-east of the town of Thabazimbi.
It lies within comfortable reach of Johannesburg and Pretoria, a distance of 250 km. the GPS coördinates are S 24º31.860' and E 027º29.896'.
The endangered Cape Vulture (Gyps coprotheres) Marakele Park in South Africa
The birding enthusiast will find Marakele National Park a true birder’s paradise, with an amazing variety of bird species.
Topping the list is probably the Park’s biggest birding attraction, 800 breeding pairs of the endangered Cape Vultures, the
world’s largest colony of cape Vultures.
Colony of the endangered Cape Vultures Marakele National Park in South Africa
You can watch these great birds high up in the African sky anywhere in the Park, gliding from one air thermal to the next,
always on the lookout for food. Apart from the vultures, the park is also an excellent place to look for raptors, with many
species using the uplift generated off the cliff faces of the Waterberg to ride thermals.
You should look for African Harrier Hawk (Gymnogene), Jackal Buzzard and several eagle species, including Verreaux’s (Black),
African Hawk, Black-chested (breasted) Snake and Brown Snake Eagle.
You will spot many more bird species in the Park, such as the Cape rock thrush, Mountain chat, greater Double-collared sunbird,
Mocking chat and Swee waxbill on the high grounds. In low bushveld and woodlands you are likely to see the Purple roller,
Brubru, White helmetshrike, Black cuckooshrike, Whitecrowned shrike, Blackcheeked waxbills and Blue waxbills, to name but a few.
Beautiful mountain scenery inside marakele Park in South Africa
The natural beauty of the landscape in the Marakele National Park is awesome, from low-lying plains covered with bushes and trees
and grassy wetlands, to aloe-covered slopes, wooded canyons, towering sandstone cliffs and the windswept grass plateaus of the
The Park is home to 765 different plant species, including some rare and Yellow-Wood and Cedar tree species. Another rarity in the
Park is the Waterberg Cycad (Waterbergbroodboom in the Afrikaans language). It is endemic to the Waterberg region and grows up to 5
meters tall at an altitude of 1450 meters.
There are two types of bushveld vegetation that are dominant in the Marakele National Park. The one is the Waterberg Moist Bushveld
vegetation type which covers 55 % of the Park. It is found in the high lying areas in the southern and south-eastern parts of the Park.
This vegetation type is characterized by Transvaal beech woods (Faurea salinga), proteas (Protea caffra) and stem fruit trees
(Englerophytum magaliesmontanum). The vegetation along the tarred road leading to the towers are typical of this type.
The other one is the Mixed Bushveld vegetation type, covering approximately 42% of the Park. This type of vegetation is mainly found in
the north-western and south-eastern parts of the Park.
This vegetation type is characterized by species such as silver cluster leaf (Terminalia sericea), sickle bush (Dichrostachys cinerea)
and round-leaved teak (Pterocarpus rotundifolias). The vegetation around the camping site and tented camp is typical example of this type.
The Greater Marakele National Park is made up of two sections, the Marakele National Park run by the South African Parks Board
(SANparks), and the privately owned Marakele Park. Situated on a habitat transitional zone the Park is boasting a very diverse wildlife
and great game-viewing opportunities. It is home to most of the large and small animals one would expect to find in the African
bush, including the Big 5.
Amongst the large animals inhabiting the park are Elephants, Rhinoceros (both black and white), Buffalo, Giraffe, Eland,
Hippopotamus, including large predators such as the Brown Hyena, Leopard and Lion. The resident antelope species include Sable,
Kudu, Waterbuck, Eland, Impala, Tsessebe and many smaller species.