Things to do near
Balule Nature Reserve
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
Hoedspruit (19 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Take to the sky in a hot air balloon for the experience of your life! Sun Catchers Hot Air Ballooning offers one-hour long flights from Hoedspruit over the scenic Blyde River.
Soar above a mix of farmland and private nature reserves at the foot of the Drakensberg Escarpment. Weather permitting, Sun Catchers also offer flights over the Kapama Nature Reserve.
Hoedspruit (23.2 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
This herpetological haven is well worth a stop!
Formerly known as Swadini Snake Park, Khamai Reptile Park is home to some of South Africa’s deadliest snakes. Experienced guides will show you the scariest beasts - black and green mambas, boomslangs and Mozambique Spitting Cobras.
If that isn’t enough to get your pulse racing then check out the Nile crocodiles and water lizards or get up close and personal with scorpions, baboon spiders and puff adders. You can also check out an awesome array of reptiles and amphibians from the rest of the planet.
Khamai Reptile Park is owned by Donald Strydom, who has appeared as the ‘house expert’ in a number of BBC, Discovery and Animal Planet channels television features. A well-known black mamba handler, he also worked with the BBC to enable the filming of some unique footage of the Nile Monitor Lizard in its natural habitat.
Donald and his team also capture and relocate over 300 ‘problem’ snakes in the region. In addition to that, Khamai Reptile Park have an educational programme for locals about the vital role reptiles play in the ecosystem and to dissuade the ‘kill on sight’ approach to the venomous snakes.
Hoedspruit (29.5 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Experience the thrill of riding elephants. The tour is provided at the Kapama Private Game Reserve and lasts for about an hour. Learn how to get onto the back of an elephant. These gracious animals tend to grab a grassy snack along the way. You are returned to the elephant boma after the ride. Videos can be made on request.
Hoedspruit (31.7 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Discover the secrets of silk and the extraordinary little creatures that produce it.
Experienced guides will take you on a journey through silk’s fascinating history and an interesting behind-the-scenes tour.
Currently Bombyx Mori Silk Estate is South Africa’s only commercial silkworm farm. Here you can find out about their organic farming methods and how the cocoons are processed into wonderful products and the life-cycle of the mulberry silkworm.
The species farmed at Bombyx Mori is the mulberry silkworm, not the ‘zebra’ worm that most of us kept as pet worms when we were kids! These remarkably industrious insects spin cocoons from a single strand that measures up to one kilometre.
A visit to Bombyx Mori wouldn’t be complete without popping into the Ivory Room and Gallery. Here you will find silk-filled duvets, pillows and numerous other silk products to purchase as well as local crafts, selected interior finishes and original artwork.
Phalaborwa (32.2 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Embark on a 3-hour boat cruise for close encounters with crocodile, hippo and elephant along the banks of the Olifants River bordering and open to the Kruger National Park.
Photographers and birders will enjoy the convenience of the upper deck equipped with chairs and tables. Great for a sundowner cruise on the river and an entirely unique game viewing experience.
Phalaborwa (32.6 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Home to Africa's wild and silky cream liqueur, the Amarula Lapa is a great spot to chill near the Phalaborwa Gate of Kruger National Park.
Here you can relax, stretch your legs and of course, enjoy a glass of Amarula Cream on ice and stock up with a few bottles before journeying on.
Comfortable seating, a shop and a warm African welcome await you on entering the high thatch-roof building. Rough stone walls and kraal-style area bestow an authentic bushveld feeling.
The Amarula Lapa is crucial to the lives of the local inhabitants who provide the Marula fruit for pulp processing in season. During the off-season, Amarula sponsor community-based job creation projects to enhance their income.
Opening hours are Monday to Friday 08:30 – 16:30 and Saturday 09:00 – 12:00.
A fertile fruit?
The fruit of the indigenous Marula tree is believed to have aphrodisiac properties and features in tribal fertility rites. Known in folklore as ‘The Marriage Tree’, tribal marriage ceremonies still take place under the umbrella shaped trees.
Phalaborwa (33.5 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Just south of Phalaborwa is the “Big Hole”, one of the largest copper mines in the world and Africa’s widest manmade hole. It’s almost 2 km wide and visible from space!
There is an incredible lookout point located nearby. In addition to viewing the Big Hole, the viewpoint offers awesome views of Limpopo’s stunning landscape and the Kruger National Park.
Hoedspruit (35.1 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
A visit to the Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is a moving and worthwhile experience It's also a convenient day excursion if you’re visiting the Orpen Gate side of Kruger National Park, Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes, Pilgrim's Rest, Graskop or Sabie. The centre provides a home for abandoned, injured and poisoned wildlife and is a respected contributor to wildlife conservation. Animals that you may see are lion, leopard, serval, cheetah, hyena, honey badger, eagles, vultures and various baby animals.How it all beganMoholoholo started from small beginnings in 1990 – with a crowned eagle and a day old zebra. Word got out that the manager was able to care for and release wild animals and birds, and so Moholoholo grew.Sadly, some of the animals are not suitable to be released back into the wild and remain as ‘permanent residents’ at the centre. They give visitors an ‘up close and personal’ experience, highlighting the problems that wildlife are facing. The main focus at Moholoholo is to create awareness in order to preserve our wildlife.Often Moholoholo receive calls to rescue animals such as baby rhino that have been abandoned or leopards that have been injured by cars or caught in snares. The team are also actively involved in collaring and relocating ‘problem animal’ control on farms and tribal areas. Many leopards’ movements have been monitored with these collars.Moholoholo have tagged and released hundreds of vultures brought in due to poisoning or electrocution. Tracking harnesses were fitted to some individuals, astonishing researchers with the range of their movements.Another important function of the centre is breeding. Staff have successfully bred and released crowned eagle, serval and many other endangered animals.Moholoholo Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre is self funded and also covers all the relocation costs of 'problem animals'. There is a small fee for guided tours which last about two hours – your visit to the centre helps this awesome project.
Galleries and Museums
Phalaborwa Gate (37.4 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Trip back in time to a beautifully restored Stone Age village in Kruger National Park
Situated on top of the picturesque Masorini Hill 11km from Phalaborwa entrance gate on the road to Letaba camp, Masorini offers a glimpse of an organized economy that existed before the arrival of European settlers in South Africa.
The village also gives insight into the lifestyle of the Stone Age hunter-gathering society that formed an integral part of the natural environment in Kruger National Park.
Excavations exposed hut floors and artefacts that gave clues to their way of life, homes, iron foundries and commerce. Dome shaped clay furnaces were used to smelt the iron ore and moulded into spears, arrowheads and farming tools. These items were traded for glass beads, ivory, animal products and food between the BaPhalaborwa at Masorini, the Venda in the North and later, the Portuguese on the east coast.
Archaeological and ethnographic research ensured that the reconstructions are as authentic as possible. Local BaPhalaborwa people renovated the huts have recently and there is a site museum and picnic spot at the base of Masorini Hill. Enjoy the fabulous views from the top!
Guided tours to the huts and furnace depart from the museum.
Hoedspruit (38.1 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Last chance to see? Hopefully not but don't miss seeing some of the rarest of Africa’s breeding wildlife at an amazing centre in the Limpopo. Situated on over 100 hectares within the Kapama Private Game Reserve, the Hoedspruit Endangered Species Centre was initially established as part of a breeding programme for cheetah.Today the centre has expanded to breed and conserve other African species for reintroduction into the wild. You will be able to see breeding cheetah and wild dog; both on the critically endangered species list. Fanatical attention is given to create perfect conditions for the sensitive cheetah to breed.Day trippers are treated to an in-depth tour of the centre. Hourly trips in safari vehicles with knowledgeable guides take visitors to the various enclosures to view cheetah, wild dog, lion, black-footed cat, African wild cat, ground hornbills, sable antelope and more.Watching the feeding sessions of rare African vultures swooping down into the ‘vulture restaurant’ is an awesome experience. Here you can see white-backed vultures, hooded vultures, occasionally the lappet-faced vulture and Cape Griffon, Marabou Stork and bateleur eagles.Visitors also have the option of going on an elephant-back safari, enjoying excellent wildlife viewing from the elephant’s high vantage point. These trips take place in the early morning or late afternoon and are always an unforgettable and awe-inspiring experience. The Camp Jabulani herd of elephants are renowned for their lovely temperaments and excellent physical condition.Contact Reservations for daily tours - Tel: +27 15 793 1633 Mobile: + 27 83 654 2299 Email for the Elephant Back Safaris: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phalaborwa (38.4 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Tee off on the wild side at Hans Merensky Golf Course near the Phalaborwa Gate of Kruger National Park.
The renowned course has a unique bushveld atmosphere and it’s not uncommon for visitors to share their golf experience with resident giraffe, hippo, crocodile and other wildlife!
Designed by Bob Grimsdell, the 18-hole par 72 championship golf course has been voted as the best walking course in the country. It also recently received the Diamond Arrow Award for being the highest rated golf course in the Limpopo.
Visitors are welcome any day of the week and can tee off between 07:00 and 09:00 or 11:30 and 13:30.
Hoedspruit (40.3 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Enjoy a lovely boat ride on the Blyde Dam, where you can savour the splendor of the Blyde River Canyon.
Your tour guide will take you to the Kadishi Tufa Waterfall and the majestic Three Rondavels. Wildlife is abundant; you'll be able to spot hippo, crocodile, as well as fish eagle. During the cruise, you can learn more about the history of the third biggest canyon in the world.
Departure times: 9:00, 11:00 and 15:00;
Minimum guests: 6 people;
Maximum guests: 50 people;
Duration: 1½ hours.
Graskop (43 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
The magnificent red sandstone Blyde River Canyon in Mpumalanga forms the northern part of the Drakensberg escarpment. There’s so much to do in Mpumalanga but most visitors come here just to sight-see, especially along the striking Panorama Route. This scenic meander includes the Blyde River Canyon, Bourke's Luck Potholes, the Three Rondawels, Swadini Dam, God's Window and many beautiful waterfalls and spectacular vistas.Covered with lush subtropical foliage, the Blyde River Canyon is the largest 'green canyon' and has some of the deepest precipitious cliffs of any canyon on the globe. The canyon is 26 kilometres (16 miles) in length and is around 800 metres deep. The highest point of the canyon, Mariepskop, is 1 944 metres above sea level whilst its lowest point where the river leaves the canyon is slightly less than 560 metres above sea level. This means that by some measure the Canyon is over 1 400 metres deep!
Blyde River Canyon (43 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Situated along the Mpumalanga Drakensberg Escarpment, the reserve covers a large area extending from the Pinnacle and Gods Window in the south to beyond the mighty Marieps Kop in the north, and ending at Swadini. The reserve is administered by the Mpumalanga Parks Board and is known primarily for the outstanding natural beauty of the canyon as well as the numerous endemic and endangered fauna and flora species present.
Blyde River Canyon (43 km from Balule Nature Reserve)
Lace up your hiking boots and hit the Hippo Trail into the Blyde River Canyon. The adventurous hike is not for the faint hearted or unfit!
This 18 km round trip should be started early, as the hike needs to be completed in daylight. Collect a permit from Forever Resort (not open on a Sunday).