Come on safari

Marakele National Park’s Universal Access (UA) tent makes it oh-so pleasurable to “go bush”!

Marakele National Park, situated in the Waterberg and surrounding bushveld in Limpopo, is the perfect weekend getaway, only four hours north of Johannesburg. Bontle Rest Camp’s safari tents opened in July 2015 and offer a unique experience to nature lovers not keen on roughing it. For many years Bontle was exclusively a camping and caravan site and is very popular with a steady stream of wildlife passing through and around the camp, particularly the adjacent waterhole, and the camp has won several awards. It also has excellent UA facilities in one of its three ablution blocks. However camping is not everyone’s cup of tea, and, especially for wheelchair users, it can prove challenging.

A universally accessible safari tent was constructed among the other tents, which can accommodate two people with two single beds. It has a levelled and bricked parking area to combat the challenges of the sandy surrounds, with a wide bricked pathway extending up to the unit at a reasonable gradient. There is an en-suite bathroom with toilet grab rails, basin level mixers and a UA equipped roll-in shower. The caged kitchenette (primates are a threat in most wildlife refuges in SA) is equipped with utensils, a fridge, microwave (positioned at a suitable height for wheelchair users) and two-plate stove. Clearance has been created beneath the sink to accommodate wheelchair users.

And what is a safari tent without that all important braai area? Well, in this paved space, you can braai to your heart’s content while listening to the night-time sounds of the park.

All the tents have fans for those hot summer nights. Another plus point? You don’t worry about anti-malaria medication – the park is a malaria-free area.

How to get there
Marakele National Park is near Thabazimbi, approximately 250 km north of Johannesburg. Travellers can either take the N1 to Bela-Bela and follow the R516 via Mabula and Leeupoort to Thabazimbi, or drive to Brits and follow the R511 via Beestekraal to Thabazimbi.

More about Marakele

  • Here you will find one of the world’s largest Cape vulture breeding colonies (more than 800 breeding pairs).
  • Marakele is home to the Big 5 and an incredible diversity of other animals and plants.
  • Activities in the park include a 4×4 eco trail, birding, game drives and picnicking, but the spectacular scenic tarred drive to the Waterberg mountain top is an absolute must.

More information (including rates) for Bontle Tents at Marakele and the camps in the other 20 national parks can be found on the SANParks website. Remember UA units are kept on reserve for those who need them and can only be booked directly with SANParks on special request. Unlike other units they cannot be booked in advance online until the reserve period has expired. Visitors to parks pay a daily conservation fee to make use of park facilities and enjoy the natural heritage, but buying a Wild Card means one doesn’t have to pay that fee.

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