A two day drive from Augrabies to Marakele made us see so many different landscapes, starting with vineyards and orange plantations, continuing with huge farms with hundreds of bulls, sheep and goats and later more wildernesses, hills, rocks and mountains. In between bigger and smaller cities, towns and villages, some very well developed, some not more than simple huts made of sheet-metal. We slept at Barberspan, a small natural park around a lake, where we had a fantastic sunset.
Arriving at Marakele the area was green and mountainous, the campsite calm and natural. From our spot we could see the impalas, zebras and ostriches. Here again we had some very naughty vervet monkeys and one morning we woke up while an ostrich was checking if our towels were dry.
We arrived right before sunset and after that you are not allowed to drive in any of the parks, so we prepared a tasteful braai and made a plan for next morning. We decided to start our drive early in the morning as that’s how we got to see a beautiful sunrise between the rocky and rough mountains.
While driving through the beautiful green scenery we followed a trail of destruction; broken trees, branches all over the road, elephant dung and pee everywhere and after every corner we were expecting to see a huge herd of elephants that must have caused this. It took a while before we found them (they can move pretty quickly) and it was fantastic to follow them; they had left the road behind and moved through the green surroundings next to the road, far enough to be safe and close enough to watch them. They were eating, breaking of huge branches from trees with their trunks and shoving them into their mouths, meanwhile protecting their young ones. After a while we lost them as the road bended in the other direction as the elephants were going.
We continued our way and quickly climbed higher and higher, having fantastic views, this really was such beautiful rough scenery. There was a beautiful look out/picnic area where we got out of the car, totally aware of the fact that wildlife could also enjoy the spot (and scared by the information panel informing us about the risks and dangers we’d put ourselves into). We survived and after finishing the beautiful loop we continued our way to the vulture viewing point, all the way to the highest point of the park. The road was very narrow; on one side the high rocks of the mountain, on the other side a deep, deep drop down. Incredibly fascinating scenery, but we kept on hoping we didn’t find a car or worst, an elephant coming down, but luckily we didn’t meet anything along the way. You can imagine the view from the top; the rocky, high mountains close by, the beautiful green valley below and the rough mountains on the other side of the valley. From the top we could see an enormous committee of vultures flying around. At these mountains you find the biggest committee of vultures in Africa, more than 100. We didn’t count them, but there were many!
Later during the day we ended up at a hide-out, where you can get out of the car into a spotting-hut at a waterhole and there we saw our first nyalas and a group of impalas playing tag and making weird high jumps. It was a fantastic sight. The waterhole was very busy and warthogs, nyalas, wildebeest, impalas, vervet monkeys were sharing the spot together.
For lunch we went back to the campsite and there we heard cheetahs were being spotted and we decided to give it another shot. We went directly to the spot where they were last seen and we kept on driving up and down, without any luck, but we did spotted a tree iguana, an incredible interesting creature and some Cape buffalos.