Wolhuterskop Game & Nature Reserve, Free State
Did you know?
Many of the plant and tree species at the reserve differ from the Golden Gate Highlands National Park, which is only about 50km away.
Before the time of fences and farmlands, what is now the Wolhuterskop Game and Nature Reserve was on the game migration route between what is today the Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.
Great herds would head to KwaZulu-Natal for the winter, and in summer they would return to graze on the sweet grasses of the Free State.
Then came the fences and farmlands.
The land around the town of Bethlehem, which was founded in the mid-1800s, proved ideal for growing wheat. Hence the town was named Bethlehem, meaning ‘house of bread’ in Hebrew.
As the farms expanded, the wildlife and indigenous landscape started disappearing. By 1983, when the Wolhuterskop Game and Nature Reserve was declared, there was little pristine veld left around Bethlehem.
‘We created the reserve to conserve a small part of the eastern Free State's grassland with its sandstone ridges, and to bring in the game that used to occur here naturally, including springbok, eland, black wildebeest and blesbuck,’ explains Peter Reed, who helped develop the reserve.
Apart from the larger game, the reserve offers a wide range of species, including the water mongoose, cape clawless otter, caracal and large-spotted genet.
Today, Wolhuterskop Game and Nature Reserve is a retreat where visitors can experience this part of the eastern Free State as it once was.
There are 3 circular routes through the reserve for day drives. Visitors can also hike, mountain bike or take a horse trail. Horses are kept on the reserve by local horseman Blackie Swart, who leads the trails.
‘For the birders, about 120 species have been identified, including the signature bird of Africa, the fish eagle, and plenty of waterbirds on the Barber Baai Dam in the reserve, which originally supplied Bethlehem with water,’ says Reed.
For those interested in plants and trees, the reserve offers a wide range, including the jackalberry, white olive and grass aloe.
No overnight facilities are available at this stage, but visitors have a choice of accommodation and dining in nearby Bethlehem.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Dihlabeng Tourism Information
Contact people: Thembalethu Dladla or Santa Bronkhorst
Tel: +27 (0)58 303 0012