Marataba Safari Lodge

Marakele National Park, Madikwe & Waterberg, South Africa
Book from GBP Book from £1388 per night

Marataba Safari Lodge

Marakele National Park, Madikwe & Waterberg, South Africa

See the Big Five without the crowds at this luxurious family-friendly safari lodge in a spectacular malaria-free reserve

See the Big Five without the crowds at this luxurious family-friendly safari lodge in a spectacular malaria-free reserve

When it comes to safari, cameras can lie – exotic scenes of elephants and big cats filling the frame, and then carloads of snap-happy tourists lurking out of shot. But not here. Marataba is a completely private section of the malaria-free Marakele National Park in northern South Africa, so you're in untouched territory. The reserve has just two lodges and two camps within its borders, meaning you get a whopping 1,000 acres of wilderness per guest bed. Out on the grassy plains roam the Big Five, including rare black rhinos, as well as the world’s largest colony of endangered Cape vultures. And framing all this are the knobbly, rouge peaks of the Waterberg Mountains. It’s a remarkable picture.

Marataba Safari Lodge lets you experience it all in total luxury. We’re talking enormous tents (11 for couples, 4 for families) kitted out with proper beds and free-standing stone baths, in-suite spa treatments, nights in plush open-air tree houses, activities for youngsters, daily sunset drinks, and candlelit dinners beneath twinkling stars. Twice-daily game drives lead by expert guides cut deep into the bush, or you can safari by foot or on board a river boat that cruises down the winding Matlabas River. Nature encounters don’t get much more immersive than this - it’s just you and the bush and a good sprinkling of creature comforts.


  • Situated in a completely private section of the malaria-free Marakele National Park, so you’re unlikely to see anyone else out on safari, and yet you're only 3.5 hours' drive from Johannesburg
  • The tented suites are uber plush, with proper beds, baths, AC and wide decks
  • Very family friendly, with tents that sleep 4, a swimming pool, and a host of dedicated kids’ activities
  • Excellent and very knowledgeable rangers and trackers that lead you on exciting safaris, including river cruises to see hippos - a rare treat you don't get in other non-malarial reserves
  • With the Waterberg mountains forming the backdrop to safari adventures, these are some of South Africa's most spectacular landscapes


  • Game viewing isn’t on a par with the more famous Lowveld reserves, but you’ve got a good chance of spotting some of the Big Five without having to contend with crowds
  • It’s not cheap, but rates do include all meals, most drinks and lots of activities
  • If you're coming for a romantic break, be aware that the lodge is popular with families at weekends and during school holidays; honeymooners may prefer to stay at Marataba Mountain Lodge
  • Kids under 6 aren't permitted on game drives
  • There's limited mobile signal in the reserve, but there's WiFi back at camp

Best time to go

Marakele can be visited throughout the year, but the best time for wildlife viewing is during the dry winter season (May-Sep) when temperatures are cooler and animals gather around the waterholes. October to March is hot (max 35C), punctuated by short thunderstorms, but they don't tend to last long.

Our top tips

Book a night in the spectacular Thabametsi Treehouse. This is the ideal hideout for a family of up to 4 (including 2 children, 6-15 years) who want to experience an authentic night out in Africa. A luxurious wooden hideaway set in the bush and open to the sky, it spans two levels and comprises a bedroom, two pull-out beds for kids, a full shower room, a lounge, a dining area, and a furnished viewing deck where alfresco dinners are served and wildlife watching is gold.

Great for...

Great Outdoors
  • Safari Lodge
  • 15 tented suites
  • All inclusive
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Hammocks


15 tented suites are dotted around the camp. They’re sturdy constructions, with stone walls, canopied canvas roofs, and wooden floors, windows and doors. Each has a double bed that’s convertible to twins, a very inviting-looking free-standing stone bath, an open-plan shower bathroom plus a separate outdoor shower. Fronting all this is a large wooden deck that gazes straight into the wilderness – elephant and giraffe sightings are very possible! All tents are fully air conditioned and are stocked with minibars, toiletries and safes.

If you’re coming as a family, opt for one of the four two-bedroom tents, which have ensuite kids’ bedrooms with bunk beds, toys and games. There's plenty of space for four to spread out.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • In-room treatments available
  • Mosquito net
  • Safe box
  • WiFi


You certainly won’t go hungry at Marataba Safari Lodge. All your meals are included, and most drinks too. Food is served in the lodge dining room - a smart and modern space with space-age log burners - or at candlelit tables on the lawn, or out in the bush. You decide.

We like the sound of the surprise bush breakfasts, served in the wilderness – perhaps on the banks of the river. You get a continental spread, a full English, and even glasses of bubbly. Lunches might be picnics under the lantern tree, with baskets of sandwiches and snacks, plus blankets and cushions to recline on. Boma dinners - traditional feasts around open fires - take place under starry skies, as do bush dinners, which include three courses of barbecued meats accompanied by breads, salads, and vegetables.

And you even get snacks when out on safari – perhaps a taco or a quesadilla, or a G&T to toast the sunset. How civilised!

Features include:

  • All meals included
  • Bar
  • Kids' meals
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Room service


  • Daily game drives head out at sunrise and in the late afternoon, lasting 3 hours and lead by expert guides who take you within close range of wildlife
  • For a yet more immersive experience, join a guided bush walk to see animals at eye level. Guides will tailor walks to your interests - perhaps mammals, birds, insects, plants or geology
  • Cruise down the Matlabas River, passing hippos, crocs, elephants and birdlife, on a Miss Mara Water Safari at sunset
  • Meet the locals on a community tour, or learn more about the local environment in a wildlife lecture with an experienced guide or tracker
  • Stargazing here is second to none. Guides will point out the seasonal constellations and those that are unique to the southern hemisphere
  • Unwind with a massage or treatment in your suite or on your private deck or laze by the pool. Yoga mats are available for self-practice

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Private guided tours
  • Safaris
  • Stargazing
  • Swimming
  • Traditional cultures
  • Well being
  • Wildlife


Kids are very warmly welcomed at Marataba Safari Lodge, and no child could get ever get bored here. Family tents have kids’ bedrooms, there’s a swimming pool for cooling splashes, and the Mack & Madi Kids’ Club offers all manner of bush activities and fun: animal ‘spoor’ tracking, campouts, rock painting, movie nights under the stars. Meal times are flexible, and childminders are on hand if you need some ‘me’ time.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

There are four Two Bedroom Tented Suites which are set up for families. The second bedroom comes with bunk beds, an ensuite bathroom, toys and games. Cots can be added to any of the tented suites.

Cots Available, Family Rooms

Creche/Kid's Club:

Mack & Madi Kids' Adventure Safari Club

Children's meals:

There are family meal times, and kids' meals are classic dishes with plenty of fresh fruit and veg. Treats like burgers, hot chocolates and marshmallows might appear during movie nights!

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool (10x4m)
  • Eco garden play centre with a jungle gym, paddling pond, haybale archery, toys and games, arts and crafts
  • Cookie baking
  • Rock painting
  • Dress up plays
  • Kids' picnics
  • Starlight cinema

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Children over 6 years are welcome on the twice-daily sunrise and late afternoon game drives
  • Children’s game drive (for young guests 3 to 5 years) goes out daily from 10h00 to 12h00 in summer and from 11h00 to 13h00 in winter; parents are welcome to go along, subject to availability of seats
  • Treehouse sleep out with parents

Families Should Know:

The pool is unfenced. Kids under 6 aren't permitted on main game drives. Under 16s are not permitted on the bush walks or the Marataba hiking trails.


  • Airport: 3.5 hours
  • Hospital: 55 minutes
  • Shops: 55 minutes
Kid Friendly:


Marataba Safari Lodge sits within a private concession in the Marakele National Park, at the foothills of the Waterberg Mountains. It's 4 hours north of Johannesburg.

By Air:
Johannesburg O.R. Tambo International is the closest 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 25-minute drive from Marataba Safari 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.


  • O.R. Tambo International Airport 326.0 km JNB


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

Rates for Marataba Safari Lodge

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