Sunday, July 12, 2015

Guest post: Marataba continues to delight

I reached the Marataba Safari Lodge by lunch so it looked like a pale yellow range, which reminded me of the old Western movies. I half expected Gregory Peck and Omar Sharif gallop in front of the property.

My tented suite was circular in shape with a deck overlooking the slightly-drying river in front. On entering the room I was hit by the coolness of the air-conditioning. The room was spacious with well-appointed interiors. A large king-sized bed stood in the middle with a writing desk to the side. What got my attention was the open-style bathroom with a free-standing stone bathtub and a rain shower. Both looked out over the river and up to the mountain range in the distance. I never got to use any of them as I trotted out to the outdoor shower with the same view and the cool river water soon ran over my head. The attention to detail in the design of the room was impeccable. Everything was within reach but in its own space.

Marataba Safari Lodge has 15-tented suites for 30 guests. Children of all ages are welcome. I saw a bunch in the pool while I was walking towards the room with a herd of impalas surrounding them.

There are recliners on the deck. I saw an old gent when I was walking to my suite on one of them starting out into space, mesmerized by the scene that lay in front of him…and found him in the same spot doing exactly the same thing when I returned 40 minutes later for lunch.

Wi-fi is available in the public areas. But honestly this is really not the place to be connected with the real world.

Lunch was light and easy. Gazpacho, salad and a burger; all extremely yummy washed down by Windhoek Lager. By the time I finished with my late lunch, tea and coffee were set out just before our game drive.

Our game drive
Driving through the bush we spotted a lot of plains game and birds and then we rounded a curve to come face to face with a white rhino mama and her 2-year-old baby. A very nice sighting, as both were very peaceful and relaxed within a herd of wildebeest only to be periodically disturbed by male impalas scampering around grunting as the rutting season was in full swing.

Leaving that lovely moment behind we headed over to the dam where I was scheduled to get on board the MS MARA. As we rounded a turn we spotted a large bull elephant in the bush just off the trail. As we approached, he began showing some interest in us. Just as we passed him he began chasing us and Hein did the unthinkable…he stopped the vehicle…and switched the engine off!

Now I am thinking to myself, back in East Africa we leave the engine on and if anything we rev the engine to say good-bye to the Massif. Not here. They have a different thought process, which made solid sense. If they ran… the ellie would chase and that’s not a good idea to teach these extremely smart blighters, as they will start chasing guest vehicles as the come up to the lodge… remember the docile female I encountered? So now I got it. In this haze, I hear Hein’s voice talking to the elephant… calm and gentle telling him to go away. I look back and this large bull has locked eyes with the lady at the back, slowly giving her the look over. Men will never change!

He continued to look at her for a good 5 minutes as he thoughtfully chomped away at the brush. I might add that his trunk is now just a foot away from her. She could have been an attraction at Madam Tussuad’s – she was so stiff. I don’t blame her. This was too close for comfort. No one was breathing and you could smell the fear in the air.  Finally even the elephant had had enough. With a sidelong glance, as if to say “I’ll see you later mate” he sauntered off into the bush. A visible sigh of relief spread all over as we drove off to catch MS Mara.

Watch out for the next part of Shantanu's adventures on board the MS Mara in South Africa! To read the first part of this post, click here: The Magic of Marataba


Shantanu Chand is the CEO of Mumbai-based GoBeyond Travels that specialises in African holidays. He can be contacted at  

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