The magical Marataba Safari Lodge

Posted on 15 July 2019

Situated in the Waterberg Biosphere and bordering Marakele National Park, you will find the epitome of tranquility: Marataba Safari Lodge.

The three-and-a-half-hour drive from O R Tambo International Airport flew by as we whizzed past cotton fields and made our way toward the Waterberg Mountains.

While en route to our destination, my excitement was palpable. Getting to experience a part of Limpopo that I had yet to discover is something I would not be taking for granted.

I was greeted at the lodge by the friendly staff with a warm hand-towel, a refreshing gesture after my journey from the Mother City.

Marataba Safari Lodge / Imogen Searra

Entrance to Marataba Safari Lodge

After checking in, I was treated to a three-course dinner. Being on my own I felt a bit awkward around the other chatting diners, but the waitstaff made me feel right at home, something I would experience throughout my stay.

My first meal, a roasted cauliflower soup, was delicious. Next was a broccoli risotto fit for the Food Gods. I then treated myself and ordered the basil and mixed-berry ice cream which came paired with a delicious chocolate tort.

One can sense that the staff of Marataba are not co-workers but rather family members, working together to ensure each guest is made to feel comfortable, relaxed and at home. After the delectable meal I said my thank you’s and was escorted to my tented suite by a night porter. Marataba is a Big 5 reserve and walking around alone after dark is prohibited.

We wandered past a camel thorn tree dotted with lanterns, down the winding stone path that lead us around the back of the lodge and toward the tented suites.

I couldn’t help but wonder what would happen if the torch caught a pair of glowing yellow eyes.

As I stepped into the 25°C heated suite with its draped tented ceiling, like something from a movie, my eyes drank in the chic decor, African flair and classic white linen. The ambiance was that of world-class luxury combined with at-home comfort.

After a long soak in the bath while listening to the laugh of nearby hyenas, I was ready to climb into bed.

Marataba Safari Lodge

Safari Lodge tented suite

As dawn broke, I was sipping on a piping hot cup of coffee discussing the day’s game plan with Marataba’s field guide Scott Fraser. We got into the Jeep equipped with warm blanket and a hot water bottle, and set off for the morning game drive.

The crisp winter air on my face, the warmth from the rising sun on my back and the distinct smell of fresh ellie dung made me feel right at home.

We first encountered a herd of sleepy buffalo with a crimson-breasted shrike fluttering in between the early risers. We then made our way through the diverse terrain, with its rocky outcrops, sandy flats, marshy riversides and open plains. We stopped to admire flora like the blue-thorn acacia, a species I had never seen in my 19 years of going to the bush.

We were treated to a magnificent sighting of two male cheetah – a rarity as there are only five cheetah on the entire 23,000-hectare reserve.

From the sighting of a bat-eared fox to the Verroux eagle owl awake in a tree, a herd of elephants, a family of white rhinos and the call of the grey go-away bird, my heart was full of gratitude.

We stopped back at Safari Lodge for a quick bite, I enjoyed the vegetarian eggs Benedict with a glass of freshly squeezed, pulpy orange juice.

As the day got warmer, we jumped back on the Jeep and Scott took me to see Marataba’s secret gem: The Thabametsi Treehouse.

The dreamy Tree House, perfect for a unique African experience

Built around a Scotia tree and completely impenetrable by any wildlife, the Tree House is a unique way to experience everything Marataba Safari Lodge has to offer. Post-afternoon drive, guests at the Safari Lodge who make a booking, will get dropped off by a ranger and spend the night under the African stars with the Waterberg mountains as the backdrop.

The Tree House can sleep a family of four, making it an incredibly special experience for children. There is a field guide on standby at all times and a radio that can be used to make contact. Each bed is equipped with a thick overhead netting, however Marataba is a malaria-free area. The bathroom is underneath the deck, fit with a shower and floor-to-ceiling glass window.

After marvelling over the Tree House, we meandered on to Marataba’s Mountain Lodge.

The boma area of Marataba Mountain Lodge

Upon arrival, I was truly blown away. The Mountain Lodge was unlike anything I have ever seen.

Perched right beneath the Waterberg mountains are five eco-cabins, a pool, a spectacular boma and an exquisite guest area.

The guest area for dining and socialising at Mountain Lodge

The rooms are completely off the grid and are near-impossible to leave because of the expansive views of the entire reserve. It’s not hard to see why Marataba was rated Africa’s third-best lodge.

Mountain Lodge is perfect for couples looking for a peaceful break – no children under the age of sixteen because the area is completely open to the Big 5.

Often guests have to sit tight and wait for ellies to move on from the pathways leading to their cabins.

An eco-cabin at Marataba Mountain Lodge

The pool at Mountain Lodge, overlooking the Waterberg Mountains in a spacious valley

After a heartfelt goodbye to the best view I have ever seen, we drove 30 minutes back to the lodge for lunch.

On the way to my room, I gazed over the nearby watering hole positioned at the bottom of the lawns in front of the lodge, hoping to spot an animal or two. Various guests were enjoying boardgames in the afternoon sun, while others read their books alongside some grazing impalas.

The view of Marataba Safari Lodge from the lawns

Since my first bush trip at the age of five, I’ve never experienced something quite like the magic of Marataba Safari Lodge. The friendly and warm staff, delicious food, incredible game sightings, the diversity of the terrain and the beauty of it all made my time there so spectacular.



Image source: Supplied

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