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On my way north towards Mapungubwe, I spent three nights at Marakele National Park in the Waterberg region of South Africa, near the town of Thabazimbi. I first visited here in winter time, but this time I arrived in summer, and I enjoyed the contrast. This is the heartland of the bushveld habitat, and in winter it can seem a little dreary, but in summer, the land comes alive.

Some female kudus drinking from the dam.

It’s a very diverse park, so although bushveld predominates, the park’s upper reaches on the Lenong Mountain is more typical of the Cape mountains, with flowering proteas and an endemic species of Ceder tree, named after the famous ethologist and naturalist Eugene Marais, who lived in the Waterberg and became famous for his studies on baboons and termites.

The view coming down the beautiful Lenong Road, which leads from the bushveld plains below to the mountains above, at an altitude of about 2000 metres.
Proteas?!? What are they doing here, so far from the Cape? The Waterberg (and Drakenbserg) both have several species of proteas that grow happily here, a relic population from a time when perhaps fynbos was more prolific across the region.
More proteas, great to see them here. They made me homesick for Cape Town and Table Mountain National Park!

The more time you spend in the bushveld of South Africa, the more you fall in love with it. It’s not as immediately scenic as other habitats perhaps, but it’s the heartland of the country, and in many ways defines South Africa. Let’s face it: there is no more quintessential South African scene than a group of people braaing boerewors in bushveld country as the crimson sun sets through the dusty sky.

Crimson sunset… bushveld style at Marakele.
An old male giraffe. Look how dark and rich his colouring is – a good indicator of his age.
This white rhino was not fussed at all by all the comings and goings of the park staff near the entrance gate.
Typical bushveld on the slopes of the Waterberg.
A grey rhebok on the high slopes of the Waterberg.

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Photojournalist Scott Ramsay focuses on exploring the national parks, nature reserves and community conservancies in Southern Africa, taking photographs and interviewing the experts who work in these protected areas. Through his work, he hopes to inspire others to travel to the continent's wild places, which Scott believes are Africa's greatest long term assets. For more, go to or Partners include Ford Ranger, Goodyear, Cape Union Mart, K-Way, EeziAwn, Frontrunner, Hetzner and Globecomm.

Africa Geographic Travel