In a grand oasis bursting with life, discover the unprecedented freedom to run wild
The journey to the Waterberg is deceptively dry. Shades of brown colour the roads. But farm stalls with piles of produce dust the route, hinting at the fruitfulness that lies ahead. Just past the town of Bela-Bela, the drive leads to an unexpected lushness. The Waterberg Biosphere is an oasis amid an otherwise arid Limpopo. A medley of reserves and resorts offer a gateway to adventure. Here, there’s unprecedented liberty to roam through nature as some of South Africa’s most iconic animals run free.
The easiest way to spot the wildlife is on a game drive. En route through the plains, which span over 650 000 hectares, look out for a wondrous array of biodiversity. Hooves pound the terrain as wildebeest, impala and kudu thunder through the savannah. Buffalo and elephants amble along in no rush. Giraffes keep watch over the land as their playful offspring attempt to tussle with them. Even cows make a peaceful appearance among this frenzied mix. Overhead, hundreds of birds take to the sky. This is as much a paradise for the creatures as it is for an avid birdwatcher.
Sustaining this phenomenal assortment is the equally varied plant life. Seven types of bushveld grow in the Waterberg, some of which are endemic to the area. Rising tall over the surrounding grasslands are bushwillows, milkwoods and giant wild figs. And then there are the fever trees, believed by San people to grant them communication with the dead, and immortalised by Rudyard Kipling in his folktales. Every living thing plays a distinct role in this landscape.
An ecosystem this majestic deserves our commitment to conserving it. In 2001, UNESCO declared Waterberg a biosphere reserve. Both flora and fauna as well as the river catchments which feed in to the surrounding areas are preserved under law. Even the critically endangered black rhino finds refuge in this haven.
The biosphere is an unspoilt retreat for people and wildlife alike. This rugged and windswept landscape commands a sense of awe. For those passing through, ziplining and mountain biking offer opportunities to experience it on the move. But to savour the journey, go by horseback. Galloping across the plains, bathed in the light of the golden hour, Waterberg is reminiscent of some of the grandest regions around the world. Except the adventure is right here. And it’s calling you to run with it.
Footage by Horizon Horseback Safaris was used in the creation of this film.