Hands-on wildlife experience at Marataba Conservation Camps

Guests at Marataba Conservation Camps can enjoy boating on the Matlabas River. Photo Credit: Anton Crone
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South Africa is expected to see the opening of Marataba Conservation Camps in September. This new safari experience, located in a privately managed section of the Marakele National Park in Limpopo Province in northeastern South Africa, gives travelers the chance to be part of hands-on conservation.

Each booking at Marataba will include the guidance of an exclusive conservation guide and private safari vehicle. This gives guests the rare freedom to really delve into what they are passionate about and experience a holistic journey through the area.

With just four properties in the park, Marataba offers 650 acres of wilderness for every guest. Travelers can explore the surroundings on wild walks with a conservation guide, who will take them up the mountains where it is possible to swim under a waterfall and spend a night out under the stars.

Travelers can take part in the daily conservation work that keeps the ecosystem healthy; track and monitor key species and assist in the compiling of ID kits by monitoring social behavior, body condition and the geographical area of sightings; or set up and monitor camera traps and inspect footage to discover what has been recorded.

Every full moon there will be the chance to join the full moon census, a wildlife count including night-time monitoring, census logging and identification of white and black rhinos as well as other nocturnal species. For those with a special interest in rhinos, notching is an ongoing and important wildlife management intervention at Marataba, and guests can join for a conservation contribution of bout $3,000 per group.

Marataba caters to families and welcomes children of all ages. The activities at Marataba Conservation Camps are tailored to individual groups. There is a family-friendly nature walk that focuses on "creepy crawlies," identifying animal tracks and signs and the uses of dung and plants. Families can also meet the teams returning orphaned and rescued animals back into the wild (and possibly even meet one of those animals). Marataba's hope is that this experience will inspire the conservationists of the future.

Accommodations at Marataba Conservation Camps is at one of two new facilities. Tucked under trees, the exclusive-use Founders Camp has four suites overlooking the Matlabas River, which attracts a variety of wildlife. Explorers Camp has six tents and two allocated vehicles and conservation guides, allowing for two semi-exclusive bookings.

Based on a minimum of four guests, rates at Founders Camp start from $2,250, and Explorers Camp starts from $1,500 per night. Rates include a private conservation guide, safari vehicle, all meals and house drinks, conservation and safari activities (except specialist annual experiences and specialized itineraries). There is a per person rate for every additional guest. Marataba Conservation Camps are easily accessed from Johannesburg, either by road (three hours) or private charter flight (45 minutes).

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