On the eastern side of the vast country that is South Africa, there is a wildlife park nestled just below the famous Kruger National Park. Marloth Park is just the other side of the river, and only a 20-minute drive from the Crocodile Bridge Gate into Kruger itself. Marloth is a wildlife park, which serves as a sanctuary for all types of animal, and the coolest part is that it is dotted with accommodation for safari-goers, meaning that you can literally have a zebra on your doorstep!
Over the course of my 10-day stay in South Africa, I stayed at the African Bush Backpackers, which is in the northern edge of the park. This meant that we were incredibly close to the Kruger fence, only a 5-minute walk actually! If there was enough daylight, almost every day we would walk or drive along the fence and park up, and you wouldn’t believe how many animals we saw.
The fence at this edge of Kruger is next to a river, and so all the animals would come down at some point to drink. Over this period, we saw elephants, zebra, hippo, waterbuck, kudu, lions, wild dogs and giraffe! There are spots all along the fence to park the car, there are benches to chill out on, and on both weekends that we were there it was common to see people setting up mini-fridges and braiis for the day. Lions, steak and beer. The ultimate South African combination.
It’s More Than Animals At Marloth Park
In addition to the animals you can see through the fence into the Kruger, there was plenty to be seen just wondering around Marloth itself. In our first five minutes, when looking for our accommodation, we saw impala, warthogs and zebra, and we hadn’t even properly settled in yet.
Our accommodation was only a 10-minute drive from the entrance gate, so that gives you an idea of how many animals there are living in the park. They come and go as well, there are gaps in the fence to Kruger which means the smaller animals can come in and out as they please. One of my favourite moments in Marloth, was when we were just cooling down in the plunge pool after a long day on safari, and a female kudu with its baby walked past, only about 3 metres away!
Daytime is awesome, but nighttime is when the animals really come out in their numbers (which is why you are not allowed to go anywhere on foot past sunset – the leopards get hungry). Our accommodation was a hostel, which meant there was a lovely communal patio area for everyone to enjoy, and it was a great time at night to see the animals. Our host would put out extra feed for the herbivores in the area, and come nightfall they would all gather, very close to our campfire!
The Night Time Sounds Of the African Bush
Another little cutie, who in all honesty completely stole my heart, was the bush baby who came down every night from his tree to snack on some bananas. I swear those little things are 80% eyes. On the less cute side, but still very cool, the night chorus was scarily soothing. Predators would call out, usually come at 10 pm, to their little ones, or in order to come together to hunt. We heard lions calling every night, and on our last night, there was a very chatty hyena! These sounds always made you realise how close you were to the animals and the fact that you were, truly, in the wild.
The facilities at Marloth park are also excellent. There are a few restaurants which are all great, and excellent value for money. We ate out for most meals, and we actually went to the same place, The Tin Shack, which has a full menu, and amazing staff. Also, we were in South Africa at the same time the rugby world cup was happening in Japan, and so we went to the restaurant often to watch the sports and grab a beer. There is also a petrol station in the park, which is the same price as everywhere else, and very convenient. There is a small supermarket with incredibly friendly staff, and next door the liquor store is full of all your party-time needs. They like their beer down there.
As for accommodation, my boyfriend and I went for the cheapest, a simple double room in a hostel which cost us 16£ per night. But to be honest, it was the greatest. The owner was out every night to chat with us around the fire and to cook a braii with us, his wife was always super willing to book us onto activities, and they both made us feel really at home, and were incredibly knowledgeable of the area. There is so much to choose from in Marloth, from self-catering villas to luxury hotels, and no matter where you are you will almost certainly end up with an ostrich or something on your doorstep!