If you want to experience Kruger Park in South Africa a bit differently, Marloth Park is the right way to go. It is a private and independent nature reserve in the province Mpumalanga, South Africa. It's located at the southern edge of Kruger. In Marloth Park, there are many lodges, hotels, guest houses and private houses; right in the middle of the African Bush.
The park itself is around 4,200 hectares. The most special part of Marloth is that you don't have to book a safari to see wild animals. You'll sleep in the middle of the African Bush. The first day we arrived at our guest house, we saw giraffes just across from the house. The following days, we had several additional animal encounters; zebras standing together in front of houses, wild hogs running across the street, etc. There are lots of activities you can do like walking along Crocodile River or renting bikes. Just keep in mind: Avoid walking around at night: Lots of animals are nocturnal and they will be out to hunt. You better not cross their path!
Accomodation & Transportation
Marloth is located around 110 km away from Maputo, Mozambique and around 450 km east of Johannesburg. We took the Intercape bus from Maputo, Mozambique to Komatipoort where our hosts picked us up. From there, it was around 25 km to our guest house. If your budget is high enough to sleep in a resort or in a fancy lodge, you're lucky. If it's not and you find yourself in a backpackers place like we did, I would highly recommend buying your groceries in Komatipoort before you arrive in Marloth Park. The food selection in the stores is very limited. Generally speaking, it is easier to get around Marloth Park with a rental car. Next time we would probably take a car as well.
A day in the Kruger Park
We booked an open drive tour for 750 Rand per person and were picked up early in the morning. The air was crisp and our guide Sandra from Kruger Africa Safaris was so kind to bring blankets with her. The package was a full day out in Kruger including a delicious breakfast which she brought for us. There are different opinions whether you should go on your own or to book a tour through the park. As we didn't have a rental car, we had no other option. I would say the experience is different. First of all, with the safari vehicle you're better able to take pictures as you're higher than in a usual car. Our guide had years and years of experience and she kept telling us great stories. She often stopped, looked at the tracks and told us: "A lion just passed here. It must have been this morning." She showed us all the amazing spots and we were able to see all of the Big 5 (elephant, lion, rhino, buffalo, and leopard).
It's a pitty that some people treat the big Five like a checklist. I enjoyed watching each animal and was surprised that we actually saw all of them. There were lots of different kinds of birds, and it was a pure pleasure to see young Impalas fighting with each other or crossing the road. Just amazing to be out there and witness the life of these animals. Giraffes walk around and carry birds with them; zebras keep flies off of each other. We were able to learn a lot about the animal's behavior, thanks to our guide. If you're alone in a car you might only be able to listen to the radio, get lesser quality views of the animal and it will be more difficult to find the right spots.
Nevertheless, if you decide to go by car, make sure you get out of the park by 6 PM.
Going on a safari was one of the most magical moments of our trip in South Africa and I can highly recommend it to you. Have you ever been to Marloth Park or Kruger Park and what experiences did you have? If you like this post, feel free to share.