Franklin Game Reserve, Bloemfontein
Did you know?
The Franklin Game Reserve is named after Sir John Stuart Franklin, mayor of Bloemfontein in the 1920s.
The Franklin Game Reserve is a unique 250-hectare wildlife reserve in the heart of Bloemfontein.
'Giraffe, blue wildebeest and city views that you cannot believe are all here in the middle of the city,' says nature conservator, Rhulani Shibambu.
'I grew up next to Kruger National Park where I gained my love of wildlife, and when I was posted here I was skeptical about what kind of wildlife a city could offer, but it is really something to see.'
Apart from the game, there are many bird species, including Karoo scrub robins, the furry flycatcher and violet-eared waxbills.
Walking in the Franklin Game Reserve is permitted but it is not advised that you walk alone. You can also take a day drive to the top of Naval Hill in the reserve, where you can absorb the best possible view of the city.
An iconic feature on the east side of Naval Hill is the 'White Horse', a sculpture of a white horse created from rocks painted white. The most widely accepted origin of this sculpture is that it was created during the South African War (also known as the Anglo-Boer War) as a direction marker for the British cavalry who could see it from afar. A remount camp was stationed here after the British captured Bloemfontein from the Boers on March 15th 1900. The White Horse was most likely the handiwork of men of the 2nd Battalion of the Duke of Edinburgh's Wiltshire regiment, and is said to be the only Wiltshire white horse that is not in Wiltshire.
One of several urban legends about the White Horse is that every time a maiden is kissed on Naval Hill, it moves a step forward.
Tour guides are available – simply ask the host at your guesthouse, hotel or backpackers' lodge to advise you. There is a well-known backpackers' lodge called Naval Hill Backpackers at the foot of the reserve. It is situated in a restored pump station, built in 1896 and used during the South African War. International visitors to nearby Lesotho often use it as a base. French is spoken, as it is managed by Frenchman Philippe Rambert, who came to South Africa several years ago to watch rugby in Bloemfontein and fell in love with the place.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The Franklin Game Reserve
Nature Conservator: Rhulani Shibambu
Tel: +27 (0)51 412 7016
Naval Hill Backpackers
Manager: Philippe Rambert
Tel: +27 (0)51 430 7266