Marakele National Park incorporates the original Marakele Park in the Waterberg Mountains, the 34.000-ha Welgevonden Private Nature Reserve, and the 20.000-ha Marakele Contractual Park owned by Dutch businessman and conservationist, Paul van Vlissingen, who was the primary funder of the consolidation plan. The aim of the land consolidation plan is to help complete the province’s ‘golden horseshoe’ of protected areas along its north-western, northern and north-eastern boundaries. The pulse of the Waterberg Mountains, Marakele National Park has become – as its Tswana name suggests – a ‘place of sanctuary’ for an impressive array of wildlife. Close to Thabazimbi, some 250 km north of Johannesburg, the park is located in the transitional zone between the dry western and moister eastern regions of South Africa. It is characterised by the contrast of imposing mountainous landscapes, grass-clad hills and deep valleys. Rare finds of yellowwood and cedar trees as well as 5-metre-high cycads and tree ferns are some of the plant species found here. All the large game species have settled here – from elephant and rhino to the big cats, as has an amazing variety of birds, including the largest colony of the endangered Cape Vulture (more than 800 breeding pairs) in the world. With its temperate climate and good summer rainfall of between 500 and 700 mm per annum, the park is an ideal setting for a truly memorable bush experience. Commune with nature and enjoy the novelty of staying in an unfenced safari camp, where visitors are warned to expect the unexpected! Furnished tents (sleeping two apiece) are situated on the banks of the Apiesrivierpoort Dam. Extra stretchers for children are available on request. All safari tents, one of which has been adapted for the mobility- impaired, are self-contained with a fully-equipped kitchen, bathroom and barbeque facility. At another camp, ten furnished tents (sleeping four each) are pitched on the scenic banks of the Matlabas River. Camping and caravan sites are arranged in three clusters with communal facilities located in the centre of each cluster (one of which has also been adapted for the mobility-impaired).