Waterberg travel guide
If you crave the classic African silhouette, come here: you’ll find sprawling fertile plains, dotted with herds of wildlife and colossal baobab and marula trees. The Waterberg Mountain Range, extending from Potgietersrus in the east to Thabazimbi in the west, has a network of rivers, streams and lakes that bring water to an otherwise arid region. It’s malaria-free and has a pleasant climate in summer or winter. Getting here is an easy 2.5 hour drive on great roads from Joburg or Pretoria. Treasures of the area include hot springs at Bela Bela and the big conservation project, the UNESCO Waterberg Biosphere Reserve. This encompasses the main game reserves of Welgevonden, Marakele National Park, Mabula and Mabalingwe, plus a number of smaller private reserves. The Waterberg contains fascinating San Rock art and some outstanding archeological sites such as the caves at Mokopane. Stay at your choice of nature and game reserves, and wander in the natural beauty to your heart’s content.
Topping the list in the Waterberg:
- Welgevonden Private Game Reserve – Always green due to mountain streams that flow year-round, this landscape incorporates cliffs of red rock, open plains and valleys sheltering thick forests. The open plains attract rhino, zebra, wildebeest, impala, lion and cheetah, whilst the rocky outcrops and forests are favoured by klipspringer, kudu and baboon, as well as their feared predator, the leopard. You won’t find great herds of animals because in winter the grass does not taste good. However, there are many kinds of animals to spot. In addition, the diversity of habitat here makes birding a pleasure, with many of the Waterberg’s 450 species of bird found here.
- Marakele National Park – This reserve filled with yellowoods, cycads and tree ferns, also has four of the Big Five, plus the endangered Cape vulture in the largest colony in the world. This is a great place to look for raptors as well as several kinds of eagle. The wildlife is plentiful – keep an eye out for the mischievous Chacma baboon and Vervet monkey.
- Mabula Game Reserve – You can see the Big Five here, as well as the small five:ant lion, leopard tortoise, buffalo weaver, elephant shrew and rhino beetle. Also found here are many types of mongoose, hyena, jackal, honey badger, large spotted genet, African civet, Cape clawless otter and many more species.
- Makapansgat Valley – North of Mokopane, One of the world’s most significant archaeological and palaeontological sites, showing evidence of an early human-like primate who lived in the limestone caves. Explore the complex network of caves, best done with a guide.
- The Legends Golf & Safari Resort - home to the unique 'World-In-One' Signature Course where each of the 18 holes has been designed by a world golfing legend. There are two clubhouses and a pool.