Big Five Marathon & Half 2025

Nights
7
Date
14 June 2025
  • Adventure
  • Half Marathon
  • Marathon

2025 Big Five Marathon

The Big Five; the Elephant, Buffalo, Leopard, Rhino and Lion. Not many can say they have run a marathon through the vast untouched surroundings of the African Savannah and experienced these incredible animals in their natural habitat. We are very excited to offer you the chance to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime event that will not only challenge you, but will reward you in the most spectacular and memorable way.

For international participants, race entry is only possible in conjunction with a multi-day tour package. The packages include all the ingredients for a fantastic getaway; accommodation, social events, sightseeing, and select meals and transportation per the itinerary. Packages also generally include ample amounts of free time, during which you can choose to join organized excursions or explore the region at your own pace.

Book today to run the wildest marathon of them all!

This is an ideal event to combine with Comrades Ultra Marathon.

Join our 2025 waitlist today to be notified of next year’s confirmed dates, packages and prices…

 

The below information is a representation of the 2024 package dates, itinerary and prices, this information is subject to change.

Half Board

Half Board

Full board accommodation during your trip

Meals Included

Meals Included

Breakfast, lunch & dinner are provided daily

Guide

Guide

Support from our team during your stay

Transfers

Transfers

Group transfers & game drives (see itinerary)

Trip Extension

Trip Extension

Various trip extensions available as add-ons

Accommodation

Accommodation

Choice of lodge, resort & camp accommodations

Entry

Entry

Guaranteed marathon or half marathon entry

Celebration Party

Celebration Party

Celebration dinner with live entertainment

Excursions

Excursions

Various social events & sightseeing opportunities

Travel Package Information

  • Itinerary

    • 2024 Big Five Marathon Itinerary 2024 - subject to change/6 or 7 Nights/11th - 18th June, 2024

      Tuesday 11th June, 2024
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      8-Day Package Arrival; Transfer to the Zebra Nature Reserve

      Those of you on the 8-day package begin your adventure at Johannesburg International Airport where you will pick up your scheduled transfer to Zebra Nature reserve. This afternoon you’ll learn about endemic reptiles as you join a guided nature walk ending at the reptile centre.

      Wednesday 12th June, 2024
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      Activities at the Zebra Nature Reserve/Arrival at Entabeni

      8-Day Tour: Today starts with a visit to South Africa’s most famous township Soweto. With a guide who was born and raised in Soweto you’ll hear personal insights into the culture of the township and learn about Soweto’s vibrant modern personality. In the afternoon choose between a range of activities back at the reserve, including fishing, kayaking or mountain biking (extra cost). There is a spa on-site and 5km route you can elect to run on your own. Later, enjoy a game drive where you are likely to encounter zebra, giraffe, warthog, wildebeest, eland and impala.

      7-Day Tour: You will start your tour at Johannesburg International Airport where you will pick up your scheduled transfer to Entabeni Game Reserve. If you are on one of the morning transfers, there may be the possibility to go on the first of several exciting game drives. The Entabeni Game Reserve offers diverse wildlife, open safari vehicles and relatively few tourists, creating an ideal wilderness atmosphere.

      Thursday 13th June, 2024
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      Game Drives/City Tour

      8-Day Tour: Today you will transfer to Entabeni, you will arrive for an afternoon game drive. The reserve offers diverse wildlife, open safari vehicles and relatively few tourists, creating an ideal wilderness atmosphere.

      7-Day Tour: Day two of your stay in Entabeni is dedicated to exploring the game reserve through a morning game drive and a bush walk. We will get accustomed to the park’s geography and climate, and we can slowly start preparing ourselves for Saturday’s exciting event: The Big Five Marathon.

      Friday 14th June, 2024
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      Transfer to Entabeni & Route Inspection

      7 & 8 Day Tour: After breakfast, all participants will be transported to the starting point of the marathon where there will be a short briefing about the route inspection. You will follow the route in a safari convoy, to examine the different running surfaces, note the locations of water stations and assess the overall difficulty of the route. Afterwards, a large buffet lunch will be served, and you will be given a formal introduction to the event. There are no scheduled game drives this day. Those on the 8-day tour will check-in to the Legend Safari Resort for the rest of their tour.

      Saturday 15th June, 2024
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      Race Day!

      7 & 8 Day Tour: The day we have all been waiting for has arrived! Today you will take part in an unforgettable challenge: The Big Five Marathon. In the morning, all participants will be transported to the starting line in time for final preparations. The marathon is scheduled to start at 09:00, but delays are to be expected, as the exact start time will depend on the location of the big five game – if too close to the route, the start will be postponed.

      Sunday 16th June, 2024
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      Celebration Dinner

      7 & 8 Day Tour: Today there is time to relax after running through the African savannah. You will have the option to purchase additional game drives and excursions for the morning. In the afternoon, venture out for yet another fantastic game drive followed by our post-marathon party. There will be delightful food, live entertainment, a prize ceremony, a big bonfire and partying under the starry skies.

      Monday 17th June, 2024
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      Entabeni

      7 & 8 Day Tour: On the final day at the Entabeni Safari Conservancy, you will have one last game drive in the morning. Those interested will also get the opportunity to stretch their legs on one final bush walk. In the evening, farewell dinners will be held at the respective lodges.

      Tuesday 18th June, 2024
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      Farewell South Africa or Hello Extension!

      7 & 8 Day Tour: Your stay at the Entabeni Game Reserve has come to an end and it’s time to head back to Johannesburg. As upon arrival, all participants will be transferred from Entabeni to Johannesburg International Airport at scheduled departure times.

  • Extensions

    • Big Five Safari & Panorama Route – 18th to the 22nd June

      Join an exciting safari trip which includes game drives, bush walks, and explorations of the area along the famed Panorama Route. Spot the Big Five game and a wealth of bird species, as well as other African wildlife. Our camp is beautifully situated in the Manyeleti Game Reserve, bordering the famed Kruger National Park. Consisting of fifteen stylishly-appointed tents with modern en-suite facilities and private terraces, a pool, bar, lounge and dining area and spacious, lush lawns, the camp provides an authentic African safari experience. Ask the Marathon Tours & Travel team for more details and a full itinerary.

      Prices from £1365

      Victoria Falls – 18th to the 21st June

      With a height of 108 metres, a combined width of 1700 metres and picturesque rainforest backdrop, Victoria Falls is an impressive place to spend four days topping off your African adventure. You will stay 3 nights at Victoria Falls Safari Lodge with breakfast. Enjoy a tour of the falls, a sunset cruise on the Zambezi and a Boma Dinner Drum show as your included activities, along with hotel transfers and round-trip flights between Johannesburg and Victoria Falls. Ask the Marathon Tours & Travel team for more details and a full itinerary.

      Prices from £1635

      Cape Town – 18th to the 22nd June

      Underneath the renowned Table Mountain lies the blue, frothy waters of the Atlantic and Indian oceans. South Africa’s southern cape marks this oceanic convergence, and during your journey you pay a visit to one of the most famous of the meeting points – Cape Point at The Cape of Good Hope. Other activities that are sure to whet your whistle include a tour of the Winelands with tastings (of course!) and various highlights throughout Cape Town itself. Ask the Marathon Tours & Travel team for more details and a full itinerary.

      Prices from £1365

  • Packages & Rates

    • Marathon Tours & Travel 2024 Big Five Marathon Packages include:

      Big Five Marathon & Half 2024 – 7 Day Package:

      • 6 nights accommodation
      • A choice of lodge, resort, and camp accommodations
      • Full-board basis (starting with dinner on day 1 and ending with breakfast on the day of departure)
      • Meet and greet on arrival
      • Group transfers and game drives according to the itinerary
      • Event Entries
      • Marathon or Half Marathon – at an additional £275

      Big Five Marathon & Half 2024 – 8 Day Package:

      • 7 nights accommodation
      • 2 nights at Zebra Stables and 5 nights at Legend Safari Resort
      • Full-board basis (starting with dinner on day 1 and ending with breakfast on the day of departure)
      • Meet and greet on arrival
      • Group transfers and game drives according to the itinerary
      • Event Entries
      • Marathon or Half Marathon – at an additional £275

      Race Entry Includes:

      • English-speaking race officials
      • Medical team
      • Official Race T-shirt, Time taking and medal
      • Supplies on the route
      • Extensions and Excursions

      Why Book with Marathon Tours & Travel?

      You’re in Safe Hands

      Whether you are running or supporting, we have an expert team to ensure your trip runs smoothly. Your travel package is protected by ABTA.

      Logistics Covered

      We take care of all the logistics for you, so you can focus on the event and your trip. Book our 7-day package and in addition, have the option to add on one of three extension tours to discover South Africa in-depth.

      Choice of 2 Distances

      Elect to join one of two distances; the Full marathon – 42.195km/26.2m or the Half marathon – 21.1km/13.1m.

  • Event Information

    • Race Date

      Saturday, June 15, 2024

      Race Time

      9:00 AM (Marathon) and 9:15 AM (Half-Marathon)

      Start / Finish

      The Big Five Marathon starts and finishes at Lakeside Lodge on the upper escarpment. Runners staying at the other lodges will be transferred to Lakeside in Jeeps. An early breakfast will be served at each lodge before departure.

      The marathon and half marathon have separate start times. The marathon is scheduled for 9am. The half marathon will start at 9:15am. Please note that the presence of wildlife near the route may cause delays.

      All finishers will receive a medal at the finish line. After the race, a buffet lunch will be served at Lakeside Lodge. Jeeps going back to your own lodge will depart when full (10 passengers). It is possible to use a shower next to the medical facility at Lakeside. Please bring a towel along if you wish to shower before heading back from the finish area.

      Route Description

      The Big Five Marathon is known for its challenging course, which takes runners through incredible scenery and showcases the natural beauty and wildlife of South Africa.

      The start and finish line are situated at Lakeside Lodge on the upper escarpment. After the start, the marathon and half marathon routes take the runners past Ravineside Lodge, the Entabeni Monolith and further on to the lower plateau. This first section is run on dirt roads made up of red sand. Runners will pass a few hills (nothing too bad – the most challenging is yet to come!). When you reach Hanglip View Point, you backtrack and run back before you reach Yellow Wood Valley. Pay attention to this section as the surface is very uneven with loose rocks, pebbles and holes.

      The Yellow Wood Valley is the most dreaded part of the course. You are about to run down the steepest slope of your life! This sharp descent is on a paved surface. The next three kilometres or so will be excruciatingly hard on your quads as you negotiate the steep slope and you reach lion country after the descent. Although the next nine kilometres are flat, you’re running through deep sand. Full marathoners do a 9km loop, whereas half marathon runners run a 2km loop.

      This brings us back to Yellow Wood. You guessed correctly – we’re going back up the dreaded hill this time! Be prepared to take things slowly as it’s virtually impossible to run up this hill.

      The route carries on to Long Drive, a narrow valley, where marathon runners do a 6km loop. Half marathoners run across the valley and reach the final section of the route. This section is run on dirt trails, a welcome respite from the deep sand and loose stone terrain earlier on.

      The end of the run is fairly hard (final four kilometres). We run halfway down the ridge, which provides us with a wonderful view out over the plateau’s lake. The surface is fairly challenging, consisting of hard uneven, stony ground with plenty of large rocks and stones of all sizes. This final part has quite a few hills and as the surface is loose, it pays to keep a careful watch on the ground as we run towards the finish. With the finish line in sight you can now take it nice and easy.

      There will be no race pacers at this event.

      Surface:

      The surface varies from deep sand, dirt tracks and trails to paved roads and pebbly surfaces with holes. Take care when running along surfaces with loose stones and holes. The steep ascent and descent is run on a paved surface. For more information, see the elevation map.

      Marathon cut-off times

      To ensure runners’ safety, three cut-off points have been established on the route:

      Marathon:

      • Cut-off 1 – 26.5km – 4 hours and 15 minutes after the start
      • Cut-off 2 – 32.5km – 5 hours and 30 minutes after the start
      • Cut-off 3 – finish line – 7 hours after the start

      Half Marathon:

      • Cut-off 1 – 10.5km – 4 hours after the start
      • Cut-off 2 – 16.5 km – 5 hours and 15 minutes after the start
      • Cut-off 3 – finish line – 6 hours and 45 minutes after the start

      Runners who haven’t reached the cut-off points in time will not be allowed to continue and will be picked up by a ranger vehicle and taken back to the finish line. The cut-off times are strictly enforced to keep everybody safe!

  • Registration & Booking

    • On Request Bookings

      Request Bookings will confirm that you have accepted our Booking Conditions. Your booking is not however, guaranteed until our partner company confirms availability. Please expect confirmation of place within 1-3 days of making your booking. Your card payment details will still be required for the deposit to secure your space, though please be advised this information will be held securely, and the card will only be debited upon confirmation of booking.

      Disclaimer

      Albatros Adventure Marathons reserve the right to change the itinerary and/or running course without further notice in the event of extreme weather.

      By signing up for this event you agree to the Terms & Conditions.

      Visa

      Please note that it is each traveller’s responsibility to check visa and passport requirements and ensure that they comply. Obtaining a passport and, if required, a visa, is solely the responsibility of each traveller. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after returning from your destination.

      A visa may be required for travellers entering South Africa, depending on what country you are travelling from. Please read the UK ADVICE here. Most nationalities can obtain the visa upon arrival at Johannesburg International Airport at a cost of JOD 40. Note that cash payment is required. USD is accepted corresponding to the exchange rate at the time of entry. Kindly be advised that certain nationalities require an entry visa to be obtained PRIOR to travel. Please check with the FCO.

      Room Options

      If you are a solo traveller and choose a shared double room when booking, we will pair you with another traveller of the same gender. If you prefer to have your own room, choose single room. A single supplement will apply.

      Travel Insurance

      Travel insurance is an essential part of any holiday you take, and we highly recommend that you purchase suitable insurance for your trip.

      The roads are not closed for traffic. Although traffic is not heavy in the area, please be aware whenever running on asphalt roads. We advise you to run on the left side of the road, so you can see any vehicles coming towards you.

      Age Limits

      Entabeni Safari Conservancy imposes an age restriction on children who may participate in game drives and bush walks. Children under 6 years of age are not permitted on game drives. To participate in bush walks, children must be 12 years of age or older.

      To participate in the marathon or half marathon all runners must be at least 18 years old on race day.

      Adults Traveling with Minors

      The South African Ministry of Home Affairs has introduced new regulations under the Immigration Act whereby from 1 October 2014 passengers travelling with children under the age of 18 years – arriving, transiting and/or departing from South Africa, will be required to produce an unabridged birth certificate indicating the biological parents of the minor. The certificate must be in English and have an Apostille authentication. Please note that it can take several weeks to process this certificate.

      Additional documentation is required for children travelling with only one parent, or adults who are not the biological parents. Full requirements are available from the South African High Commission/Embassy in your area.

      Airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents. These new regulations have been implemented to combat child trafficking.

  • Seven Continents Club ®

    • The Seven Continents Club®️ (SCC) offers a unique opportunity for runners to run on all seven continents of the globe, as well as providing numerous benefits to its members. The club operates as a global frequent traveller club for runners, offering waitlist priority for high-demand events, early pre-registration periods for a number of races in popular destinations and tour package vouchers for money off international tour packages. What’s more, Seven Continents Club®️ rewards all its members for the extraordinary achievement of running marathons on each continent with their own special finishers medal and certificate of completion. Join the SCC today!