Five Scandi-style eco suites stand in a row on a mountainside, each built from wood, stone and glass so they blend into their surroundings. At one end is the main lodge, a glass-fronted minimalist space where candlelit dinners take place, and an infinity pool drops into the Waterfall Valley below. Twice-daily game drives and river cruises take you past rhinos, elephants, lions, giraffes - the full Big Five wander the savannah here. And refreshingly, there’s no mobile signal; you come to disconnect from the grind and reconnect with nature. But you get to do it all in total style: sundowner drinks, sleeping in a treehouse, open-air massages, WiFi if you want it – it’s all on offer!
- Just 5 suites immersed in total wilderness, each fully solar-powered and with truly spectacular views
- The whole lodge is adult-only and totally romantic - don't miss the chance to spend the night in a treehouse, or a sunset river cruise to see hippos
- We hear huge praise for staff at the lodge and those leading safaris
- Marataba is a private, 21,000-hectare section of the malaria-free Marakele National Park, with just two sister lodges, so you don't get the crowds of South Africa's more famous reserves
- Very accessible: 3.5 hours' drive from Johannesburg and yet you're deep in the bush among some of South Africa's finest landscapes
- The lodge is not suitable for anyone with mobility issues as the rooms are set along a steep, rocky path
- Game viewing here isn’t as plentiful as it is in the busier Kruger region, but you get the bonus of being alone with wildlife when it's sighted
- No kids under 16 – ideal if you’re coming for a romantic break!
- There's limited mobile signal in the reserve, but there's WiFi back at the lodge
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Mountain Lodge
- 5 suites
- All inclusive
- Over 16s only
- Open all year
- Outdoor Pool
- Spa Treatments
- Beach Nearby
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Car recommended
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
The 5 eco suites are standalone wood and stone lodges set in a row but spaced far enough apart to ensure maximum privacy. A wooden walkway leads to each, and you enter from the back. To the side, a veranda on stilts faces the valley, and the view will take your breath away.
Inside they all have the same layout, furnished with minimal clutter so as not to detract from the surroundings. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows give unhindered views of the valley beyond and allow the light to pour in. Kingsize beds (or twins on request) are positioned so you could wake up to sunrise over the savannah, perhaps with a steaming cuppa in hand. You also get an ensuite bathroom with a rain shower and separate WC, plus a wood-burning fireplace, a maxibar, a Nespresso machine and air-con.
- In room treatments available
- Safe box
All your food is included – that’s your usual three meals plus afternoon tea, sundowners and regular snacks. It's delicious and you certainly won’t go hungry! The dining deck is a smart and intimate space with glass walls, and tables set close to one another so you can mingle with other guests if you wish. But you won’t always dine here. Pop-up bush dinners take place some evenings, pancake stops may happen mid-safari, picnics are laid out in the wilderness, and private candlelit dining can be set up for you beneath starry skies.
Food combines local produce and global cuisine. Breakfast might be crumpets with caramelized apple and honey, lunch a roast butternut salad, and dinner honey-glazed venison; dishes change daily. If you have dietary requirements, just let staff know. There’s a good selection of premium Cape wines, plus spirits and mixers for cocktails or digestifs, best enjoyed in the open-air firepit lounge on the deck.
- All meals included
- Twice daily game drives (approx. 3hrs at sunrise and late afternoon), bush walks, and the Miss Mara boating safari are all included in the rates. Expect to see rhinos, giraffes, zebras, hippos and elephants and perhaps lions, cheetahs and leopards – though wildlife sightings can never be guaranteed. Rare black rhino and the notoriously elusive pangolin are also sometimes spotted.
- Book a night in the fabulous Thabametsi Treehouse (extra cost), a luxury private hideout set among mountains and savannah. You get a four-poster bed on an open-air deck, and a feast is laid out for you, so you can dine and sleep among the stars and the animals!
- More challenging 3-4 hour guided hikes can be arranged along one of the specialist Marataba trails, taking you to the far corners of the reserve and offering the chance to spot flora and fauna sometimes missed on game drives
- Meet the locals on a community tour, or learn more about the local environment in a wildlife lecture with an experienced guide or tracker
- Back at the lodge in your down time take a refreshing dip in the infinity pool and soak up the amazing views
- Opt for some wellness in the bush: in-suite massages can be arranged, and the decks are an ideal spot for practicing yoga
- Go birding in season (Sep-Mar) - there are over 400 resident and migratory bird species to spot in the reserve, including the world's largest colony of endangered Cape vultures, beautiful Violet-eared Waxbills and cuckoo hawks
- Stargazing here is spectacular. Ask guides to point out the seasonal constellations in the southern hemisphere
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Plantlife / flora
- Private guided tours
Marataba Mountain Lodge is located on an isolated mountain slope in Marataba, a private concession within the Marakele National Park in the Waterberg Biosphere. It's 3.5 hours' drive north of Johannesburg.
Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International is the closest international airport (326km), from here you can then take a shuttle flight (one a day) to Thabazimbi Airport, which is an hour away from Marataba by road. There's also a daily shuttle linking Madikwe Game Reserve with Marataba.
From the Airport:
You can rent a car from the airport - see our car rental recommendations. Or, the lodge can arrange a private road transfer, which takes 3.5-4 hours. You also have the option of arriving in style by private air charter, landing at the Matla Mamba Airstrip within the national park, a 1-hour drive from Marataba Mountain Lodge (complimentary transfers available from here) but this can be expensive and weather dependant so we prefer to go by road.
There are seven access control points to the park. To gain entry, drivers must present a valid driver’s licence and vehicles must display a valid South African vehicle licence disk.
Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.
- O.R. Tambo International Airport 326.0 km JNB
- Beach 730.0 km
- Shops 61.0 km
- Restaurant 61.0 km