Blogger Kristof Eyckmans shares his thoughts on a luxurious stay at Marataba Mountain Lodge:
An eco-lodge is often regarded as a place where you need to cut back on luxury in return for a smaller footprint on the environment.
Well, you couldn’t be more wrong at Marataba Mountain Lodge, where you can completely surrender to the joys of safari life while still taking care of the environment.
As a Vivid Luxury traveler, I call that a win-win situation.
In early October I celebrated my birthday, and because I’m tired of counting candles I wanted to escape it all and just enjoy the moment.
Marataba Mountain Lodge was the perfect choice as it is located within the Marakele National Park and is only a 3 hour drive away from my house in Johannesburg. It is part of the MORE family portfolio, which in itself already gives you an idea of what’s to come.
Marakele National Park is home to the big 5 and has probably one of the most amazing landscapes in southern Africa. It is part of the Waterberg biosphere which is UNESCO-recognised, and the only savannah biosphere reserve in the world. How about that for a unique location?
Upon arrival at the gate of the park, you are welcomed by a very friendly staff member who shows you the way to the Marataba Safari Lodge, as this is where your guide will be waiting for you.
Together with Marataba Mountain Lodge these are the only two lodges in this part of the park, which gives its guests a very big playground to look for wildlife and enjoy the scenery.
Once you arrive at Safari Lodge you are whisked away to the lounge to enjoy a nice drink. Your luggage and car in the meanwhile are taken care off, so you can start to relax immediately.
Only a few minutes later you are sitting in the open air jeep together with your guide. On our way to the lodge we already spotted our first animals which gave us a good indication about what was to come.
When I arrived at Mountain Lodge, I was instantly blown away by the beautiful design of the main house and the fact that it’s truly located in the middle of this park with nothing remotely human in sight.
As would become a routine, the staff were waiting for us with refreshments and cold towels. There are only 5 suites, making this a very cosy and intimate place to stay.
Kids aren’t allowed (at Safari Lodge they are and it is more suitable for them too) and as there is only a maximum of 10 guest at any given moment, it feels like you’re all alone to experience this beautiful place.
The suites are all identical and one of the main things that stood out for me was the fact they blend in perfectly with the environment. The view from the suites is amazing and the interior is done in the same style as the main house.
The rooms are contemporary and use wonderful materials, making sure every luxury is incorporated. The only downside you might find is the fact there is no bath. Since I’m a shower guy and the views from this shower are hard to beat, I personally have no problem with that.
The mini-bar looks more like a maxi-bar and all the drinks are included so enjoy that extra glass of chardonnay if you feel like it.
In between game drives you can enjoy some downtime near the beautiful pool or the wonderful fire pit. If you’d rather stay out of the sun, the lounge area will certainly make you feel at home.
To top all of this, the lodge serves you delicious food. I specifically liked the afternoon tea right before heading out on the second game drive of the day. Their iced coffee remains legendary in my books.
Talking about game drives, you will be happy to know there are two vehicles for the guests at the Mountain Lodge. And as there are only a maximum of 10 guests at any given time, it is a given that you will never be seated with more than 6 in one vehicle.
During our stay there was only one other couple, meaning we had a dedicated guide and car during the whole stay. Talk about true luxury!
The wildlife is abundant and with the amazing backdrop from the mountains you are in for a real treat. On top of the big 5 and all the other animals you can enjoy a water safari on the “Miss Mara”.
We set out one afternoon to explore the waters while having sundowners and it was a superb experience. Seeing the sun set while the hippo’s are eyeballing you from the side, as the mountains come to life in a fiercely red colour… Perfection!
And then there’s the ultimate safari experience which is the luxurious Thabametsi Treehouse, because let’s be honest, who doesn’t want to sleep under the stars while listening to the sounds of the African bush?
The MORE portfolio includes 4 treehouses, of which one is located in Marataba. Both guests from the Safari and Mountain lodges can book the treehouse to experience the African outdoors in all its glory.
And that’s not even an exaggerations! It is solar powered making sure you can still enjoy the comforts of a luxury hideaway while the open deck has your bed facing the beautiful Waterberg Mountains.
On the lower level there is a wonderful shower room with every amenity you could wish for.
The 360 degree view around the deck is just stunning in every way, and the countless stars at night will cover the landscape in a misty silver blanket. If you are looking for the “out of Africa” feeling, then this is it!
My stay at Marataba Mountain Lodge was the perfect cway to celebrate my birthday, and it was my first experience with the famous MORE portfolio. Everything was close to perfection, from the level of service, to the details in the design of the accommodation, food and overall experiences.
It’s safe to say this will not be the last time I’ll book and enjoy their luxury portfolio!
Photos and words: Kristof Eyckmans