DestinationsSouthern AfricaSouth AfricaThe Waterberg
Malaria Free Mountain Wilderness

Just a two and a half hour drive or a one hour flight from Johannesburg lies the majestic Waterberg Safari Region, often described as the undiscovered gem of the South African safari circuit. Malaria free, and with mind-blowing scenery, the Waterberg is stamping its mark on South African safaris.

A unique safari destination in that it is a mountainous area, the Waterberg has breathtaking views, made even more spectacular as you watch herds of wild game walking far below you. The Waterberg Mountains stretch along more than 5 000 square kilometres of spectacular vistas and scenic valleys. The area is steeped in a history and some artifacts found here date back to Stone Age times.

Its malaria free status makes it an excellent option for families and other holidaymakers alike. In recent years, a collection of first-class boutique lodges have sprung up in the region catering to all tastes.

The Waterberg Wilderness reserve is home to a large number of animal species as well as over 250 bird species and ideal habitat for a very large number of reptile species. The African rock Python and Black Mamba, two sought after species for reptile enthusiasts are common to the area. The wooded gorges and rugged terrain make the ideal habitat for a number of species including leopard and Brown Hyena both of which frequent the area on a regular basis.

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Game viewing is good as large numbers occur on the property and the mountainous terrain offers the chance to see some species like Mountain Reedbuck and Klipspringer which are rarely sighted in many other reserves.

The Waterberg Conservancy was declared a UNESCO site in 2001. The conservancy was established as a coalition of private landowners in an effort to increase ecotourism through successful management and protection of the magnificent wildlife resources. The region has also been recognised as one of the most important rock art sites on the subcontinent, and is nationally respected for the conservation of, and research into, black and white rhino. The habitat and wildlife is highly diverse, with over 75 mammalian species and 300 avian species finding refuge here.

There are several sub-habitats within the Waterberg Biosphere, which include high plateau savanna, specialized shaded cliff vegetation system and riparian zone habitat with associated marshes.

The savanna consists of rolling grasslands and a semi-deciduous forest. Indigenous grasses provide graze to support native speciess including impala, kudu, klipspringer and Blue wildebeest. Other indigenous mammals include giraffe, white rhinoceros and warthog. Vegetative cliff habitats are abundant in the Waterberg due to the extensive historic riverine erosion. The African Porcupine uses the protection of these cliffside caves. Some trees cling to the cliff areas, including the Paper tree, whose flaking bark hangs from their thick trunks. Another tree in this habitat is the fever tree, thought by Bushmen to have special power to allow communication with the dead. It is found on cliffs above the Palala River including one site used for prehistoric ceremonies, which is also a location of some intact rock paintings.

Riparian zones are associated with various rivers that cut through Waterberg. These surface waters all drain to the Limpopo River which flows easterly to discharge into the Indian Ocean. Red bush willow is a riparian tree in this habitat. These riparian zones offer habitat for birds, reptiles and mammals that require more water than plateau species. The riverine areas are home to the Nile crocodile and the hippopotamus.

If you are interested in visiting the Waterberg area, or wish to find out more about it then contact one of our Travel Experts for some advice. They will be able to help you choose the best accommodation to suit your tastes and pocket, and to help you put together an amazing African itinerary.

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Fast Facts

The Waterberg Biosphere is a massif of approximately 15,000 square kilometers in north Limpopo Province, South Africa. Waterberg is the first region in the northern part of South Africa to be named as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Insider Information
  • Waterberg is an excellent safari option for families as it is Malaria free.
  • Ideal for those looking for a quick safari fix as the Waterberg is a mere two and a half hours from Johannesburg.
  • Pack sunscreen and a hat- The Waterberg can get very warm in Summer.

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When to Travel
  • The conditions for game-viewing in private game reserves and in the Marakele National Park are best during winter (from May to October), because at that time the vegetation is not so lush and one can spot animals easier.
  • The Waterberg region is not as sultry in summer as the Kruger Park and the Lowveld.

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