The drive up to the Marakele’s Lenong Viewpoint is like a trip to Gold Reef City. It is frightening if you’re unprepared for dizzying heights.
At Gold Reef City at least you know the rollercoaster will eventually end. To get to this viewpoint you plead to a deity at least once more than you would ever at Gold Reef City as your car meanders up every curve to the top.
With no railguards, the drive up is relentlessly torturous. As you go ever higher, you realise that one wrong turn will result in a fall from the heavens. Yet the drive up (once you survive the anguish) results in one of South Africa’s most beautiful views.
Hundreds of vultures floating between the majestic Waterberg is something that burns into your mind and stays with you forever. It’s simply beautiful.
In times of quarantine and levels determining your freedom, it’s odd to think back at such a place and realise so many are missing the opportunity to have its vast splendour etched into their minds forever.
Marakele National Park is a place where the world changes and things are put in perspective. Here mighty vultures fly free – but you are also reminded of their status as an endangered species.
The fear from driving up the hill to the viewpoint makes you appreciate these majestic birds even more because you know what it feels like to potentially die at any moment.
Yet even with the vultures under constant threat of extinction, the death-defying drive and their presence is a wonderful hymn to life because when you visit here,, you know it’s just the start of an adventure.
The Waterberg district of Limpopo is vast, with many destinations to head off to after an almost suicidal drive to see the famous Cape vultures of the area. And it’s these places that live on in virtual safaris.
But, for those of us who cherish the kind of sights you get to see at the Marakele National Park, you might already be flexing your fingers to stay over soon. If you can’t stay at the park, nearby places have as much to offer.
Nearby Marataba Lodge is now also hosting digital safaris that capture the beauty of the Waterberg region, an area so close to Johannesburg you can almost smell the dung.
But Marataba is part of a collective of places that is sharing its beauty in a time where finding beauty in your daily life is not always easy.
And since these are the kind of places that employ locally – and won’t be able to open a restaurant or kitchen for Uber delivery – supporting them is life-affirming. Just like surviving the drive up to Lenong Viewpoint.