Our Operations & Product Manager, Robin recently visited Marataba Conservation Camps and shares his experiences with us:
With the reopening of all domestic travel in South Africa, hotels and lodges are once again welcoming visitors and flexing their “COVID muscles” in preparation for when we can host international visitors. We are truly are Tourism Ready and I am not just saying that glibly, I was recently very fortunate to be invited to the launch of a brand-new safari-concept property, so I was able to test the transfers, airports, airlines and lodges for their COVID Protocols.
On arrival at Cape Town International, Lanseria, and OR Tambo International Airports, I was very impressed by the speed and efficiency with which the Airports Companies have adapted. It was a seamless and totally safe experience. The main difference is that only travellers can enter the arrivals and departure halls, so no visitors or porters. The airports have arranged for special locales where you meet with your driver/guide for your onward transfers. Obviously, masks are mandatory throughout and there is no meal service on the aircraft.
The property I visited is the new Marataba Conservation Camp, located in the Marataba Reserve, Limpopo, only a 3-hours drive from OR Tambo or Lanseria Airports. The Marataba Reserve is malaria-free and privately-owned.
The whole concept of the lodge is to turn the safari experience on its head and afford visitors the opportunity to experience conservation at work on a first-hand basis. The best way I can describe this is if one imagines the traditional safari experience as a balloon, with the guest experience on the outside and the day-to-day workings and conservation efforts on the inside. The two entities very seldom combine.
CONSERVATION AT MARATABA
At Marataba Conservation Camps, they have turned that balloon inside out, so the conservation efforts are on full display and guests are encouraged to get involved. So, there is no traditional morning and afternoon game drive, although of course, they can offer this if guests really want it. Instead, they offer a smorgasbord of different activities that guests get to choose from to create their own tailor-made safari experience. These include the incredible:
- rhino darting, capturing, & ear notching
- bush hikes/walks
- boat safaris
- wildlife interventions
- predator management
- elephant management
- camera traps
- ecology experiences
- telemetry (tracking of wildlife through collars for scientific purposes)
- community outreach visits
There are two separate lodges namely Founders Camp, which is more 5*, it has 4 luxury tents and sold on an exclusive-use basis, and Explorers Camp, which has 6 tents, one of which is a family tent. Both lodges are extremely family-friendly. Explorers can take two groups, so it is semi-exclusive. You get our own safari vehicle and guide who looks after you throughout your stay.
MARATABA FOUNDERS CAMP
MARATABA EXPLORERS CAMPS
I guess you can tell I am very excited about this new way of safari. I would suggest when planning an itinerary, you first include a more traditional safari experience, especially for first-time travelers. This will allow guests to get a sense of what safari is all about and then get a more in-depth experiential stay, ideal for second or third-time visitors.
~ Written by Robin, Timeless Africa Safaris – Operations & Product Manager