Not so long ago, the Waterberg was rather unfashionable. Now a UNESCO-protected biosphere, the 12,000-hectare wilderness has earned deserved popularity with weekending Johannesburgers, and welcomed a glut of ecotourism lodges. Found in South Africa’s northernmost Limpopo Province, it offers an off-the-beaten track safari alternative to the commercialised likes of Kruger National Park. Present and correct are the ‘Big Five’ (lion, leopard, black rhino, elephant, buffalo), as well as prized white rhino, with malaria the one happy absentee. What about the landscape? Wetlands and wide-open plains, peppered with rivers and spiky mountains. Jaw-dropping views are a camera-summoning constant.
Within the main biosphere, Marakele National Park and the private Welgevonden Game Reserve offer game-viewing; outside, nearby Mabula and Mabalingwe reserves also boast the Big Five. Most lodges run twice-daily game drives, with additional nature walks. Day-trippers can visit Marakele, but you’ll need to book accommodation to gain access to the reserves. Beyond the wildlife, there are thousand-year-old Bushmen rock-art sites, Stone Age archaeological finds, astonishing cave networks, towns built around hot springs and excellent hiking, fishing and birdwatching, the latter along the Waterberg-Nylsvei Birding Route.
Fly from Johannesburg to Polokwane – there are regular, daily services – and then take the N1 motorway south for two hours to Bela-Bela. If you’re driving from Johannesburg, it takes 3.5 hours along the N1.
Best Time To Visit
The Waterberg’s warm climate makes it a year-round destination. In terms of game-viewing, , summer’s dense green bush allows animals to hide more easily, and abundant water means they don’t need to head to rivers as often – making spotting them trickier than during dry winter (June-September) months.
An intensely beautiful safari lodge with dramatic views of the Waterberg Mountains in the malaria-free Welgevonden Game Reserve.
This newly re-opened lodge is a taste of true luxury and Big 5 game-viewing, only 2 and a half hours drive from Johannesburg.
The Best of South Africa Travel map displays the locations of the destinations and accommodation that we have selected and visited; for each item, hovering over or clicking the marker will display a short summary and photo of that place or hotel, and hotel pricing. Follow the links in the info box to the full page listing which has much more information.
Note that the online map offers both a satellite view (click satellite in the top right) and, for some locations, a street level view (Drag the person in the top left onto the map). These let you explore the country; and when you wish to explore in person, or if you have any questions about the places you see, give our staff a call, or request a quote. Our staff regularly visit the places and accommodation that we feature.
When you book a holiday with us we will provide full driving instructions for reaching your accommodation, where necessary; these can be used by yourself, or you could enjoy the luxury of a driver. Alternatively we will arrange private (car rather than coach) transfers for you; helicopter transfers are also possible for some destinations.
A wonderful 7 night break to South Africa
We have just come back from a wonderful 7 night break to South Africa. We were incredibly well looking after from the second we stepped off the plane, by a lovely representative of Best of South Africa Travel - who met us and escorted us through customs and immigration literally behind the pilots. It was very efficient, and we felt very ...