The Waterberg's R518, Limpopo
Did you know?
Paul Kruger, President of the South African Republic just before the South African (Anglo Boer) War, reputedly banished ‘difficult' Boer farmers to the Waterberg.
The R518 is a scenic road route that takes you from the town of Mokopane to Marken through the heart of the Waterberg Mountains. One of the highlights of the road is passing through the range known as the Waterberg Red Beds because of their distinctive rusty colour. This colour is a result of iron particles trapped in the sandstone that began rusting some 1900 million years ago.
From the town of Mokopane, a small agricultural centre, the R518 heads towards the western part of the Waterberg and climbs from the low bushveld to the dramatic mountains heights. The views are amazing and the Waterberg Red Beds are a photographer's delight.
The R518 continues through the region to the small town of Marken, taking you through gorgeous bushveld scenery. This is the wild heart of the Waterberg, part of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, a 400 000 ha protected wilderness. The San people, who left their legacy behind in the form of spectacular rock art, first inhabited the area.
The R518 is part of the Waterberg Meander, a scenic route through the region that takes you to a series of interesting historic sites, community projects and tourist attractions.
The Waterberg region has become one of Limpopo's most popular eco-tourism attractions, offering rugged mountains, rolling bush and plenty of wildlife, with the added bonus of being malaria free. The Waterberg offers a variety of wildlife and safari experiences, varying from Big Five reserves and upmarket game lodges to remote wilderness hideaways and self-catering bush camps.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Waterberg Tourism & Parks Resource Centre
Tel.: +27 (0)14 736 4328
Around the area
Head out on the Waterberg Meander, a scenic route through the region that takes in the best Limpopo and the Waterberg have to offer.
Tours to do
Take a guided tour of Melora Hill, an Iron Age site that has yielded interesting artefacts related to its early human occupation. You can also take a guided tour of the Makapan Valley World Heritage Site, the sister site to Sterkfontein at the Cradle of Humankind. Makapan Valley dates back some 3,5 million years to when our hominid ancestors roamed these plains.
Length of stay
The road trip itself will only take an hour or so. But set aside at least three days to explore the delights of the Waterberg region. Many more if possible because there is a lot to see and do.
Where to stay
Take your pick from a variety of options in the Waterberg, ranging from exclusive wilderness lodges to self-catering hideaways.
What to eat
Head for a lunch stop at the Black Mamba, a bistro combined with an arts & crafts shop, in nearby Vaalwater. The Black Mamba serves light and tasty meals, and you can sit outside under the trees.
For the best curios and crafts, head for the Black Mamba in Vaalwater, which sells an interesting selection from across the continent.