In this remote, malaria-free and beautiful region of South Africa, there aren’t many truly luxurious properties, and this is one of them! Marataba Mountain is a jewel in Marakele National Park and part of the MORE Collection, a great company that has run family-owned properties in SA since the 1930s. Elegant, Scandinavian-style, and fully solar powered, this lovely lodge blends in effortlessly with the surrounding landscape, offering couples an idyllic location for enjoying safari away from the bustle of SA’s busier parks. The landscape is monumental, with the Waterberg Mountains providing the backdrop and allowing for some exceptional hikes to ancient gorges, with crystal-clear rock pools to swim in. The game, although slightly less dense compared with other parks, still makes for great sightings, and this is a Big Five destination. It’s a wonderful choice for those looking for an exclusive, romantic, safari retreat.
ACCESS & LOCATION:
Marataba Mountain Lodge is located within Marataba Private Reserve’s 350 square kilometres and also adjacent to Marakele National Park. This gives you great options in terms of safari activities, allowing for night drives, boating, and walking, as well as classic game drives. The Waterberg Mountains, a stunning elevated plateau rising out of the plains, provides a beautiful backdrop, and the area has remained pretty untouched due to its unsuitability for agriculture. The lodge itself is perched on a mountainside with 180-degree views. All of the Big Five can be seen here, including the rare black rhino, and there’s fantastic birdlife, including the world’s largest colony of Cape vultures. The Matlabas river offers the chance to do some boating and see hippos and crocs, among other water-dwelling creatures and those that come down to drink. These river cruises are pretty amazing when combined with sundowners!
To access the lodge, you’d take a scheduled light aircraft flight from Johannesburg into the local airstrip, and from here it’s a short 20-minute game drive to camp. It is possible to road transfer from Johannesburg, but it’s a solid 4–5 hour drive.
ACCOMMODATION & FACILITIES AT MARATABA MOUNTAIN LODGE:
This is a very private, exclusive accommodation experience, with only five eco-suites and a maximum of ten people at the lodge at any one time. The rooms are sumptuous. Amenities include king-sized beds, elegant furnishings, a well-stocked fridge, a wonderful viewing deck, a wood-burning fireplace, a Nespresso machine, and en-suite rain shower in keeping with the property’s excellent eco-credentials.
The main part of the property displays fine lines and is effortlessly classy, with an open-sided front allowing dining half inside, half out, with views of the rock pool where elephants and other big game come to drink. The infinity pool and loungers also face out to views of the plains below and mountains beyond. This place really is beautiful, and excellent value given the levels of luxury and privacy on offer.
If you can drag yourself away from your luxury hillside views and fancy a night in the wild, there’s a treehouse! And it’s a pretty great one – solar powered, two storey, complete with shower, lounge, and viewing decks, and able to house up to four guests (two adults, two kids). It’s a great experience to sleep out beneath the stars with the sounds of the bush going on at night. Of course you remain well away from the animals and your guide is on call 24/7 should you need them. This activity doesn’t need to be pre-booked, so it’s something you can decide on when you’re there, presuming availability.
ACTIVITIES AT MARATABA MOUNTAIN LODGE:
As there are not many camps in this large non-malarial area, the safari experience here is certainly authentic, and there’s a wide range of things to do! Elephant and rhino sightings are regular, and you have a great chance of seeing many other big hitters.
Expertly guided game drives- Among the highlights here are all the Big Five – lion, rhino, leopard, elephant, and buffalo. You can also look out for smaller predators such as cheetah, hyena, jackal, serval, civet, honey badger, and the rare wild dog, while the herbivore collection features giraffe, wildebeest, zebra, and an excellent assortment of antelopes.
Walking safaris- Why not head out into the bush with an armed guide? As well as enjoying animal tracking and the area’s phenomenal birdlife, you’ll take a closer look at the reserve’s insects and plant life. The difficulty levels and distances traveled depend on the ages and abilities of your group.
Night drives- You can also venture out at night, when all the big predators come alive. It’s always an unforgettable experience, watching what goes on in the dark of the night! You might see porcupines, genets, civets, bush-babies… and occasionally a larger predator, with its prey.
Boating- Head on a trip down the Matlabas River, and see the hippos getting angry over very little. This is a great way to enjoy your sundowners, with the gentle sounds of the river.
Sleep-outs- The Thabametsi Treehouse is spectacular, and well worth a night under the stars! It can house a couple, or a family of four with teenage kids. It can be booked while you’re at the lodge.
*This property is unfenced and located in a wildlife area, so large and potentially dangerous animals do pass through. If you opt to stay here, always be alert when walking around the camp and request for a member of staff to escort you if you have any concerns. Any guest is escorted after dark as a matter of course.