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Discover the natural beauty and wildlife of South Africa's pristine Waterberg region

The Waterberg region is located in the north Limpopo province in South Africa, and despite its natural beauty, it's one of the lesser-known tourist destinations in the country. British travel writer Christopher Clark from CNN highlights seven reasons to visit the stunning area, from wildlife encounters and human heritage, to warm baths, hiking and horse riding.

Discover the natural beauty and wildlife of South Africa's pristine Waterberg region

South Africa is renowned for its wildlife, vast plains, beautiful coastline and national parks. While most travellers head to Cape Town, Johannesburg or the Garden Route, many don’t even know about the rugged region of Waterberg.

Christopher Clark, a travel writer from CNN, highlights seven reasons why more holidaymakers should visit Waterberg region in the north Limpopo province and its mountains, rock formations, and winding river valleys.

Walking

The Marataba Private Game Reserve is situated on the edge of the Marakele National Park, and is home to the new Marataba Trails Lodge where visitors can enjoy unique safaris.

Unlike other safari lodges in South Africa, there are no game drives from Marataba Trails Lodge, and instead guests take guided walks with experts to beautiful grasslands, verdant valleys and steep hills to catch sightings of the Big Five in their natural habitat.
Designed for hikers, Marataba Trails Lodge, is eco-friendly and solar-powered and was built using sustainable materials including wood and stone.

The lodge can only accommodate up to eight guests at a time, and during their stay they can learn about their surrounding natural and remote environment.

Horse riding

Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill sit on a family-owned reserve near Vaalwater and are perfect for families looking to take an active break. The two lodges, named after the owner Ant Baber, offer an array of activities including game drives and walks, but its forte is horse riding, and guests can take guided rides to catch glimpse of giraffes, rhinos, and buffalos.

Road trips

The Waterberg Meander offers a drive with a spectacular view, and the 350km route travels through the Waterberg Biosphere, giving travellers the chance to stop and enjoy trips to several game and nature reserves, and visit the region’s historical and archaeological sites.

Visitors can head to Vaalwater town for coffee and handmade souvenirs at The Black Mamba, or they can take the Lehlabile Cultural Tour, and learn about local food and traditions from local women from the Pedi ethnic group.

Wilderness Conservation

Welgevonden Game Reserve spans 37,000 hectares of farmland, and over the years it has been part of a conservation project to restore it to its original state.

Home to more than 50 animals and 300 bird species including South Africa’s healthiest white rhino population, as well as elephants and cheetahs, the wilderness area is one of the country’s most successful conservation success stories.
Visitors can stay in a choice of affordable luxury lodges, including the secluded Nungubane Lodge.

Birdwatching

More than 400 species of birds reside in the Nylsvley Nature Reserve, and when the flood plain is at its peak water level in the summer months, 80,000 birds can be found here. As well as being one of the southern Africa’s largest bird habitats, the reserve is also home woodlands where zebras, wildebeest, giraffes, and antelopes roam around freely.

Travellers can explore the reserve via its hiking trails or by jeep safari, and if they’re lucky, they might see a leopard or brown hyena along the way.

Human Heritage

Dating back millions of years, the Waterberg is rich in heritage, and examples of this can be found in the limestones caves in the Makapan Valley. Ancient mammal remains and fossils of human-like primates were excavated by anthropologist Raymond Dart between 1900 and 1950, and these artefacts can be found at the Arend Dieperink Museum in Mokopane. Holidaymakers can also take a guided tour around the caves.

In Marataba and Welgevonden, visitors can still see the series of rock paintings that were left by the native San Bushmen, 2,000 years ago.

Bela-Bela Warmbaths, A Forever Resort

This tourist attraction is a smaller version of Sun City Resort in South Africa and boasts a network of water slides around the natural mineral-rich warm baths, making it a great place for families.

As well as water activities, tourists can enjoy go karting, mini golf and zip-lining, and there are several cafes and restaurants. For more relaxation, the Hydro offers a range of pampering massages and treatments.

Waterberg is one of the many regions in South Africa that boasts magnificent natural scenery. Some of the most popular include the Garden Route, one of the greatest drives on earth that stretches from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town; the iconic flat-topped Table Mountain in Cape Town; and Kruger National Park, where travellers can go on unforgettable African safaris.

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