Marataba Mountain Lodge

Marakele National Park, Madikwe & Waterberg, South Africa
Book from Book from £1132 per night

A quintet of romantic eco suites nestled on a mountainside in a private game reserve, for luxurious malaria-free safaris without crowds

Peeping out from mountainous bush like a crouching lion tailing its prey, Marataba Mountain Lodge stares fervently into total wilderness. The dramatic Waterberg Mountains frame the horizon, their sandstones crags changing from golden to auburn to rouge as the sun moves across the sky, and a river cuts its way through the plains, attracting wildlife to its shores. It’s a true Out-of-Africa scene. And this being a totally private game reserve, there’s no one obstructing the view.

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!

Highs

  • 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

Lows

  • 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

Marakele can be visited throughout the year, but the best time for wildlife viewing is during the dry winter season (April-September, 25C / 77F) when animals gather around the waterholes. Note that mornings and evenings can get very chilly during winter, so be sure to bring a fleece and some gloves. October to March is hotter (32C / 90F), and days can be punctuated by short thunderstorms, though they usually pass quickly.

Our top tips

Bring a head torch for getting from the main lodge to your suite. The path is steep and uneven, so choose Suites 1 or 2 (closest to the lodge) if you're worried about getting back after dark (or after too many wines!).

Great for...

Eco
Foodie
Great Outdoors
Romantic
  • Mountain Lodge
  • 5 suites
  • All inclusive
  • Over 16s only
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

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.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

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.

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • 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:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Stargazing
  • Wildlife

Kids

Only guests over 16 are permitted. Families should stay at Marataba Safari Lodge

Kid Friendly:

Location

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.

By Air
Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International is the closest airport (326km).

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.

By Car:
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.

Airports:

  • O.R. Tambo International Airport 326.0 km JNB

Other:

  • Beach 730.0 km
  • Shops 61.0 km
  • Restaurant 61.0 km

Rates for Marataba Mountain Lodge

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