Maria Moroka Game Reserve, Free State
Did you know?
Dr Maria Moroka, after whom the reserve is named, was a Struggle hero from Thaba Nchu.
Almost all nature reserves in the Free State province are created around large, scenic dams, and the Maria Moroka Game Reserve is no exception.
But one of the things that sets this park apart is that it is close to a very special mountain, called Thaba Nchu mountain, the spiritual homeland of the Basotho people who have lived here for hundreds of years, first under Chief Moroka in 1830, and later under the more famous Chief Moshoeshoe.
The mountain, only about 70km from the provincial capital (and airport) of Bloemfontein, rises above the Maria Moroka Game Reserve.
The large body of water at its centre is the Moutloatsi Saetlogelo Dam, which is popular with anglers (and those who love sundowners on a boat).
You can walk or drive and see herds of eland, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, springbok, blesbok and zebra. Sometimes there are spectacular sightings of birds – hundreds of blue cranes at times – plus the cheerful common or garden birds chirping at dawn.
But they are not the only attraction; there’s also the setting. As all the websites carrying any information about the Maria Moroka Game Reserve will tell you, this is 'Big Sky' Country. The air here is clear, the horizons are wide, and the nearby mountain Thaba Nchu (Black Mountain) makes it all jump into focus.
Interestingly, the large hotel within the game reserve used to be a casino, and has a swimming pool, putt-putt course, jacuzzi, sauna and a few other glitzy attractions – completely different to the standard little self-catering chalets you usually find at a provincial park like this.
You’re less than an hour’s drive from the city of Bloemfontein, but it feels as if you’re far, far away. As a bonus, this is a great stopover point if you’re travelling to the Lesotho border post and Maseru.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Black Mountain Hotel
Tel: +27 (0)51 871 4200
Maria Moroka Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)51 873 2427
How to get here
From Bloemfontein, take the N8 towards Lesotho. After 65km you'll find the little town of Thaba Nchu. Follow the signs to the game reserve and Black Mountain Hotel from here.
Best time to visit
The grassland is in full flower between November and January.
Within the reserve, you can drive, go on game drives, or take a scenic eight km hike.
Length of stay
You could stay overnight or for more game viewing, relaxing or exploring hotel facilities, stay two nights or more.
Where to stay
There are self-catering chalets if you'd prefer the simple life, and a rather large hotel if you like more comfort (and putt-putt).