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marakele national park

PlanEco and CC Architects

​marakele national park facilities

​marakele national park facilities

Situated in the transitional zone between the dry western and moister eastern regions of South Africa, the Tswana name of this Park is fitting: Marakele means “sanctuary” and has become home to many wildlife species over the years.

At the time that the development took place; the intention was to not have any “conventional” restcamps in the Park. A tented lodge (called Tlopi) was built overlooking the Apiesrivierpoortdam, as a first phase.

The campsite and entrance gate facilities were therefore designed to have a “canvas character”. Combined with lightweight concrete flat roofs, the canvas roofs over passages and public areas hinted at the non-conventional facilities envisaged for the Park. The massive canvas roof over the entrance road would have posed a problem in heavy winds – more than half the surface area thereof was made of shade netting (which lets wind pass through), reflecting the silhouette of the Waterberg mountains behind it.


PlanEco and CC Architects

richtersveld national park wilderness camps

PlanEco and CC Architects

richtersveld transfrontier park wilderness camps


!Ais!Ais/richtersveld national park wilderness camps

Also called South Africa’s “mountain desert”, this arid Park is home to the Nama people. Traditionally pastoralists, they followed the rain with their herds of goat and sheep staying in igloo-like huts made of Wag-n-bietjie saplings. The framework of these huts is covered with “biesiematjies” when they are used, and remained behind when they moved on.

This age-old way of roofing inspired the design of the tourism facilities developed in the Park. Various interpretations thereof made for interesting structures. To make the mats waterproof (for the rare times that rain fell in this desert) they were painted with a waterproofing paint or covered with canvas.

Walls were either dry stack stone or reeds from the Gariep River, with a double layer being used with shade netting in between the layers. This keeps out insects and breaks the speed of the cold winter winds.

PlanEco and CC Architects

kgalagadi transfrontier park wilderness camps

PlanEco and CC Architects

​kgalagadi ​​TP wilderness camps

kgalagadi transfrontier park wilderness camps

The Kalahari Gemsbok Park and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana were united to create the first functional Transfrontier Park 20 years ago. Mostly Kalahari sandveld, two rivers run through it, the Auob and the Nossob, which only flows during exceptionally wet seasons.

SANParks decided to diversify its tourism offering in 1999 by introducing wilderness camps. These 8 bed, unfenced camps looked after by an on-site ranger, became extremely popular and visitors now need to book a year in advance. They are placed in different biomes of the Park: Urikaruus is in the Auob riverbed (and therefore lifted off the ground to not hinder animal movement and safeguard guests); Gharagab overlooks the well-treed dunes of the north-western part of the Park; Grootkolk adjoins a pan adjacent to the Nossob River; Bitterpan overlooks a saltpan in the middleveld between the two rivers and Kieliekrankie is built into the top of a dune. The architectural styles of these camps are therefore all different, each one shaped to suit its particular environment.

PlanEco and CC Architects

kgalagadi transfrontier park tented camps

PlanEco and CC Architects

kgalagadi transfrontier park tented camps

kgalagadi transfrontier park wilderness camps

The Kalahari Gemsbok Park and the Gemsbok National Park in Botswana were united to create the first functional Transfrontier Park 20 years ago. Mostly Kalahari sandveld, two rivers run through it, the Auob and the Nossob, which only flows during exceptionally wet seasons.

SANParks decided to diversify its tourism offering in 1999 by introducing wilderness camps. These 8 bed, unfenced camps looked after by an on-site ranger, became extremely popular and visitors now need to book a year in advance. They are placed in different biomes of the Park: Urikaruus is in the Auob riverbed (and therefore lifted off the ground to not hinder animal movement and safeguard guests); Gharagab overlooks the well-treed dunes of the north-western part of the Park; Grootkolk adjoins a pan adjacent to the Nossob River; Bitterpan overlooks a saltpan in the middleveld between the two rivers and Kieliekrankie is built into the top of a dune. The architectural styles of these camps are therefore all different, each one shaped to suit its particular environment.

PlanEco and CC Architects