At just a three-hour drive from OR Tambo International Airport, Welgevonden Game Reserve is a sought after Big Five game reserve bordering the Marekele National Park in the Waterberg Biosphere. What makes it even more attractive is that it is malaria-free.
Meaning ‘well found’, Welgevonden is a mountainous place of spectacular scenery, abundant wildlife and awesome birdlife that captures the essence of true wilderness.
Home to white rhino, lion, leopard, elephant and buffalo, the reserve also has cheetah, sable, gemsbok, giraffe, bush pig, pangolin, warthog, black-backed jackals and many antelope species.
At night you have the chance of spotting rare and unusual animals such as brown hyena, aardwolf and aardvark.
With over 250 bird species including rare blue cranes, the reserve is also a birder’s dream. Welgevonden also features some superb, delicate Bushman rock paintings.
Visit Welgevonden for amazing wildlife viewing opportunities, an authentic wilderness experience and a wonderful sense of the spirit of Africa.
Almost the size of the Kruger National Park, the UNESCO Waterberg Biosphere Reserve has it all.
Close encounters with amazing wildlife, vast open spaces, rich biodiversity and the romance of the bushveld contribute to an unforgettable African wilderness experience.
This magical part of South Africa offers discoveries as diverse as its visitors – fascinating people and places are all within easy reach.
Stretching from Marakele National Park in the south west to Wonderkop Nature Reserve in the north east of Limpopo, the reserve houses an immense treasure of archaeological, cultural, and biological diversity.
The small town of Vaalwater serves as the gateway to this UNESCO Biosphere Reserve characterized by undulating hills and endless views.
Explore it on foot, horseback or in your vehicle – you won’t forget it!
A three and a half hour drive from Johannesburg will get you to the wonders of Lapalala Wilderness. This immense malaria-free privately-owned nature reserve lies in the mountains of the Waterberg.
Here you are assured of a supreme bush experience and the chance of spotting black and white rhino, buffalo, zebra, blue wildebeest, sable, roan, tsessebe, impala, eland, kudu, giraffe, warthog, hippo and crocodiles. Cats to spot are leopard, Serval and genet.
Now incorporated into the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, the stunning landscape is characterised by sparkling rivers winding through craggy gorges and undulating bushy hills.
Brainchild of renowned conservationist Clive Walker with the assistance of Dale Parker, this sanctuary is home to rare endangered animals. This dynamic team is credited with reintroducing the critically endangered black rhino to the Limpopo.
Things to do near
*Distances are shown as the crow flies and not necessarily the actual travelling
Bela Bela (Warmbaths) (42.5 km from Vaalwater)
Offering 21 species of antelope, rich birdlife and two unusual hiking trails, Diepdrift Private Nature Reserve near Bela Bela is a great option for weekend hikers in Gauteng.
The Diepdrift Sable Hiking Trail follows an undulating course over Elandsfontein and Diepdrift farms before crossing a mountain range and into a kloof. The reward at the top of the plateau is knockout panoramic views of the bushveld landscape. Keep an eye open for sable, nyala, waterbuck, giraffe, kudu and Burchell’s zebra.
Duration: 2 days
Difficulty: Easy to moderate (steep ascents and descents)
Distance: 24 km
Bela Bela (Warmbaths) (43.1 km from Vaalwater)
Diepdrift Hiking Trails are situated on Diepdrift Private Nature Reserve near Bela Bela on the Rooiberg / Thabazimbi road. To see wildlife on foot and for a real taste of the bushveld, do the two-day circular Hippo Hiking Trail.
Crocodile and hippo can be seen at the pool – be exceptionally careful here. Other animals to spot on the trail include giraffe, sable, nyala, eland, kudu, red hartebeest, Burchell’s zebra, impala, blue wildebeest, reed buck, waterbuck, gemsbok, bushpig, warthogs and small antelope.
Duration: 2 days
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Distance: 22 km
Warning: Be extremely cautious at the pool – hippo and crocodile are very dangerous
Naboomspruit (49.9 km from Vaalwater)
Palala Rhino Sanctuary offers you an experience of a life time to interact with rhinos on foot, or in game viewing vehicles.
Our rangers and guides will make it a memorable experience with their wealth of knowledge about the bush. Bookings essential.
Lephalale (Ellisras) (51.6 km from Vaalwater)
Popular with water sports enthusiasts, anglers, families, birders and photographers alike, the Mokolo Dam Nature Reserve’s major attraction is boating.
Almost a quarter of the picturesque malaria-free 4 600-hectare reserve is taken up by water when the dam is full.
Dramatic cliffs and precipitous hills run down to the water’s edge, presenting fabulous backdrops for photographers.
Boat based bird watching along the shoreline also offers excellent photo opportunities.
Families will find numerous lovely picnic spots and fishing around the dam.
Bela Bela (Warmbaths) (53.4 km from Vaalwater)
Zebula Golf Course offers a superlative golfing experience on a Peter Matkovich designed golf course.
Teeing off on this pristine 1 200-hectare bushveld estate is a considerable pleasure with its wildlife spectators, tranquility and vast open spaces.
Giraffe, zebra, eland, kudu, gemsbok, Nyala, impala, Red Hartebeest, Blue Wildebeest, warthog, bushpig and many more species could be watching while you hit an ace.
Combining the wonders of golf with wildlife and the quintessential African environment is the fulfilment of a long standing dream for Peter Matkovitch.
Designed to blend unobtrusively into the bush, Zebula also adheres to eco-sensitive development guidelines. Other celebrated Peter Matkovitch courses are Leopard Rock, Spier, Steenberg and Arabella, the highest ranked new course in South Africa.
Zebula Country Club also features a restaurant, cocktail bar, TV lounge, swimming pool, fully equipped gymnasium, Jacuzzi, squash court and tennis courts.
Modimolle (Nylstroom) (54.1 km from Vaalwater)
Situated close to the beautiful Nylsvley Nature Reserve, Koro Creek Golf Estate offers a wonderful escape for families and golfers alike.
Visitors can enjoy close encounters with wildlife on the 18-hole golf course or the game reserve – there is something for everyone.
Warm, sunny winters and fantastic summers provide year round opportunities for golfing and other pursuits in a malaria-free playground.
The 860-hectare nature reserve alongside the estate is going to be incorporated into the estate allowing wildlife to roam free.
Koro Creek Golf Course is a 6825 metre par 72 championship course featuring four tee boxes on every hole to accommodate every level of golfer. Fairways narrow as you enter onto the green - be sure to bring your putting game!
The clubhouse has all the amenities including a restaurant and all the amenities that members and visiting golfers require.
Modimolle (Nylstroom) (54.2 km from Vaalwater)
18 hole championship golf course, 6825m, Par 72.
Fairways narrow as you enter onto the green - make sure you
bring along your putting game!
Bela Bela (Warmbaths) (56 km from Vaalwater)
Designed by Peter Matkovich, Elements Private Golf Reserve has been rated among the top golf courses in South Africa.
Keeping in theme with it's natural surroundings, the course's intention is to act as a sanctuary away from the city, hence the reference as a reserve. This is a 18-hole course, complete with a clubhouse, driving range, pro shop, and even a swimming pool.
Guests need to be accompanied by a member.
Bela Bela (Warmbaths) (56.3 km from Vaalwater)
Tee off on the world first Biosphere Golf Course in the Waterberg
The combination of 18 championship golf holes and the untamed wilderness of Africa promises to be an exceptional playing experience.
Against a stunning backdrop of hills and nestled in the valleys, the course is divided by numerous gorges and water features on the magnificent estate. Entirely sensitive to the natural bushveld, the well-manicured USGA standard greens, bunkers and tees provide an attractive contrast to the wilderness.
The Waterberg Biosphere Course is an outstanding addition to golfing in Limpopo and this unique concept will see the integration of a championship par 62 golf course with the Biosphere Nature Trail. Keen golfers will be able to play this course in less than three hours and see wildlife en route.
Bela Bela (Warmbaths) (56.7 km from Vaalwater)
Bambelela offers two and a half hour guided tours offering in-depth knowledge and first-hand experiences about hand-raising wild animals and primates. Some of the animals can be touched and there are great photo opportunities.
Orphaned and injured African animals are cared for with the aim of rehabilitating them back into the wild. Bambelela are working on being officially recognized as a Vervet Monkey Sanctuary in the Waterberg.
Tours are by appointment only. Cost per adult is R100 and R50 for kids (under 4 years free).
Entabeni Private Game Reserve (57.3 km from Vaalwater)
Lying in the heart of the Waterberg UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the privately owned Entabeni Game Reserve promises an exciting wilderness experience for discerning travellers.
Here you can take a scenic helicopter flip, gaze at the stars in the observatory, go on guided horse trails, visit the local Pedi village, enjoy sunset lake cruises and a variety of wildlife viewing activities.
Known as ‘The Place of the Mountain’, this malaria-free safari conservancy has an astonishing five ecosystems. Knowledgeable and friendly guides take visitors on fascinating excursions identifying a diverse array of interesting birds and animals – so much more than the usual Big Five sightings!
Explore the grasslands and stunning craggy escarpment, drive down between the cliffs past bubbling streams and down to the balmy sand wetlands – you definitely won’t get bored.
And at less than a three-hour drive from Johannesburg, the reserve’s proximity and lack of the nasty anopheles mosquito makes it an alluring destination.
Bela Bela (Warmbaths) (58.5 km from Vaalwater)
Ready for a mind-blowing experience with elephants in Bela Bela?
More than the usual 'touch and feed' elephant experience; Adventures With Elephants provide thrilling hands-on interactions for kids and adults with their wonderfully tame elephants.
Learn more about elephants and witness their intelligence, compassionate nature and delight in interacting with their human companions. Friendly, experienced and qualified elephant handlers share their in-depth knowledge and passion for their charges.
Choose experiences ranging from Swims on the Elephants, Elephants Interactions, Elephant-back Safaris, Starlight Safaris or tailor-made activities including weddings, teambuilding, corporate functions and filming.
Adventures With Elephants is located on a stunning wildlife reserve situated just an hour and a half drive north from Pretoria, adjacent to Zebula Country Club.
+27 (0) 14 734 7700
Naboomspruit (59 km from Vaalwater)
Legend Golf and Safari Resort promises an exceptional golf and safari experience featuring a high vantage point upon which visitors may tee off!
This golf and safari resort offers a 19-hole course amidst wildlife, malaria-free bushveld surroundings, and stunning panoramic views particularly of the Hangklip Mountain.
Eighteen of the world’s top golfers were selected to add their design expertise to the signature course, contributing to the allure and spirit of golf in Limpopo.
Situated in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, Legend Golf sets new standards for golfing and wildlife viewing.
The championship golf course includes a golf academy with driving range, recreational facilities, wellness centre, sports complex and conference centre.
Bela Bela (Warmbaths) (59.2 km from Vaalwater)
Spot the Big Five in a malaria-free reserve in the Waterberg Mountains.
Conveniently situated, Mabalingwe Nature Reserve is an easy two-hour drive from Johannesburg or Pretoria – a great escape from the stresses of urban living.
Gripping sightings of elephant, white rhino, leopard, hippo, giraffe, hyena and sable antelope are routine on this lush Limpopo game park. Spread over 12 500 hectares of pristine wilderness, the rolling hills of the reserve is the birthplace to 32 species of wildlife.
Birders will be kept busy ticking off numerous special sightings with more than 250 bird species on record. Visit Mabalingwe at any time of year and discover some of life's forgotten pleasures - it's definitely worth a trip!
Marakele National Park (59.4 km from Vaalwater)
Marakele National Park boasts an impressive diversity of wildlife and breathtaking landscapes.
Majestic mountains, grassy hills and deep gorges typify this park in the UNESCO Waterberg Biosphere. Some of the rare plant species found here includes exceptional yellowwood and cedar trees, enormous cycads and tree ferns.
Along with the prospect of exciting elephant, white and black rhino, lion and leopard sightings, there are an amazing variety of birds to be seen. This includes the largest colony of endangered Cape vultures in the world – Marakele is home to more than 800 breeding pairs. Drive up to the Sentech Towers for awesome close encounters with these massive vultures.
Kudu bulls with their magnificent spiral horns are often spotted at Marakele. Other less common antelope species include mountain reedbuck, eland, reedbuck and tsessebe.