Marataba Safari Lodge’s addition to the award-winning MORE portfolio launches a major new attraction in experiential game viewing and trail walking in South Africa.
Located in the centre of Marakele Game Reserve in Limpopo’s historic Waterberg range, Marataba offers Big Five game viewing amidst a wealth of crystal-clear rivers, pools, waterfalls and verdant mountain terrain.
The property links MORE’s circuit of 5-star game lodges east and west of the country. In the Lowveld, Lion Sands Game Reserve is unique in operating in both the Kruger National Park and Sabi Sand Wildtuin. In the North West’s Kalahari thornveld, MORE manages the upgraded Madikwe Safari Lodge in what is becoming a world renowned safari experience.
Marataba Safari Lodge was recently acquired by a consortium of Dutch families in a deal worth R200m, an initiative aimed at supporting safari tourism. MORE was invited to manage this project on the basis of its leading role in experiential safari tourism in tandem with conservation and community development.
MORE CEO Robert More calls the investment far-sighted, in an area of South Africa which has largely been overlooked. Marataba is perfectly placed for the tourism market in Gauteng, 250km driving distance from Johannesburg on the N1 through Bela-Bela (Warmbaths) to Thabazimbi.
Hollywood’s vision of the ultimate big-game experience was defined by the Oscar-winning Out Of Africa, in which Robert Redford romanced Meryl Streep around the campfire in front of large, elegant safari tents. That setting anticipated Marataba’s unique advantages in today’s tourism market.
Says Robert More: “Marataba is a great opportunity to meet the growing demand for experiential tourism. It is malaria free, breathtakingly scenic and ideally suited for today’s photographic safaris. The Lodge comprises 15 luxury tents in an exclusive 23,000 hectare reserve. It will pair well with Madikwe Safari Lodge to the west, creating the ultimate family safari circuit.
“Early in the new year we will be looking to create a Trails product which will include one or two satellite lodges. Guests can spend a hard day walking but then rest up in the comfort of a beautiful tent. Located within a Big Five Reserve, the experiential potential is unlimited.”
At present Marataba accommodates up to 30 guests, with the tents available with double or separate beds. They are similar in size to the suites at Madikwe, each with a stone bath, showers inside and outside and all the facilities of a luxury safari suite. Two family-sized tents are scheduled to be completed in 2014. Within the lodge are stylish dining and entertainment areas, essential WiFi in our world of connectivity, a curio shop and a conference room which can host up to 18 delegates.
Key to Marataba’s identity are its eco-credentials which include solar-powered energy supply and a hi-tech sewerage system. Eco-independence is a priority for all MORE properties and Marataba sets the standard for environmental responsibility.
MORE Operations GM Andrew Paterson says it is the way forward for safari tourism in South Africa. “Living under canvas, no matter how luxurious, does encourage an awareness of conservation and green issues without compromising the 5-star level of service. Green technology today is of a high quality and of course brings cost savings. We will over the next 6 to 12 months be moving as much of the operations off the grid.
“Solar power can supply most of the needs of a game lodge like Marataba’s accommodation, lighting and plug points. The national power grid is then only required for air conditioning and certain kitchen equipment.”
Marataba Reserve, set within SANPark’s 23,000 hectare Marakele National Park, promises to take family safaris to new level of fun and excitement. MORE’s planning is based around the property’s abundance of game which includes the Big Five, up to 80 hippo and some 400 species of birdlife.
Prime access is provided by a system of roads designed to give optimum viewing by day and evening, and the water resources which support the wildlife. Trails will be offered as a three-day package experience, and also as daily walks out of the Lodge to catered picnics by the waterfalls, or refreshing dips into one of the clear Waterberg pools.
A new dimension to the traditional game drive is also on MORE’s drawing board for Marataba. The Waterberg’s renowned water resources can support sundowner cruises on a scale similar to those popular in the Caprivi Strip. Viewing game drinking at the water’s edge at sundown is a guest experience which can become a trademark of this unique game reserve.
MORE’s reputation as a pace-setter for the increasing concern about wildlife conservation is shown on its www.morehotels.co.za website. Its photo galleries are packed with high-quality visuals of wildlife taken by guests and rangers on its properties, on game drives and walking trails, and from its lodges and signature treehouses. These images feature in top travel publications and in blogs and websites online, emphasising how tourism must now be geared to conservation and community development to ensure its sustainability.
The demand for more trained field rangers means that MORE will relocate its training school from Lion Sands to Marataba, where there greater scope for expansion to meet the increasing demand in the safari business.
Says Robert More: “It’s important to be proactive in our tourism industry. MORE does continuous research with its visitors domestically and internationally to find out what they want from their safari stays. Lion Sands and Madikwe have their own unique, world class resources which we are constantly developing. The reason we have invested in Marataba is that is in one of the country’s most spectacular game reserves, and it offers us a wealth of fabulous game tourism advantages that we will develop.”