Did you know?
Writer and naturalist Eugene Marais wrote most of his important works in the Waterberg.
Only about 3-hours’ drive north of Johannesburg, the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve offers the Big Five along with the advantage of being malaria-free.
The Waterberg area, where Welgevonden is situated, is a high-altitude wilderness, where several rivers and tributaries rise. It is a rare pleasure to traverse the grassy uplands, with their spectacular views, golden cliff tops and secretive ravines.
Welgevonden means ‘well-founded’, while the Waterberg is named for the many springs that appear to bubble out of dry rock after summer rains. The pristine watercourses are full of life, the clean water clucking and gurgling over the river-smoothed rocks.
If you’re interested in botany, ask your field guide about the resurrection bush. If it’s winter or a dry summer, he or she will show you a small twiggy plant that looks dead. Cut off a little section and put it in water. Within hours, it will have revived and the leaves will be moss green.
This is a land of milkplums, wild syringas, silver cluster-leaf trees, marulas, large-fruited and velvet-leaf bushwillow, round leafed teaks and common wild pears.
Insect fanatics will be intrigued by the ‘Schwarzenegger’ termite, which builds nests under large boulders, gradually lifting them up half a metre above the ground – grain of sand by grain of sand.
And various ant-eaters are plentiful.
You stand an excellent chance of seeing aardvark and aardwolf here – which, along with the meerkat, the porcupine and the bat-eared fox, are part of the Shy 5 – alongside other interesting nocturnal creatures like civets and brown hyenas.
With 13 game lodges scattered about the 37 500ha property, you’re spoilt for choice. Yet if you stumble across a fabulous wildlife sighting, it’s likely your game-viewing vehicle will be able to enjoy it undisturbed by others.
The Welgevonden Private Game Reserve is a peculiarly restful place and you’ll leave feeling revived and restored.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Welgevonden Private Game Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)14 755 4392
How to get here
From Johannesburg, take the N1 highway north. Once past Pretoria, drive for another 120km and take the R33 turnoff at the Kranskop Toll Plaza. Proceed for another 10km to Modimolle. Follow the signs through Modimolle to Vaalwater, another 85km along the R33. Drive through Vaalwater and Welgevonden, depending on which gate you’re entering at, is about another 25km or so away.
Best time to visit
The Waterberg is lovely from spring through summer to autumn (from September to May). Winters (June to August) can be very cold at night because you’re at altitude. Still, game viewing at this time is very good.
Around the area
The Waterberg area as a whole is a fascinating place. The Waterberg Biosphere Reserve has a very informative website on which is listed details of the Waterberg Meander. Welgevonden adjoins the Marakele National Park.
Once at the lodge, you’ll be driven around in lodge game-driving vehicles.
What will it cost
The various lodges have different rates, but this is a much pricier and more luxurious option than staying in a national park, for example. Expect to pay up to a few thousand rand per person per night.
Length of stay
Two or three nights to really relax into the Bushveld routine.
What to pack
No matter what the season, take something warm for the evening.
Where to stay
The Welgevonden website lists the various lodges offering accommodation.
The Waterberg is one of the few places where you can get a bridle with African beading for your horse.