This 3,000 hectare reserve has a wide range of habitats: most of the area is covered with broadleaved woodland and there are a number of small streams and two perennial rivers with wetland areas that attract Blue Crane and Secretarybird, as well as Common Quail and a host of other grassland birds. The raptors are well represented with Lizard Buzzard, Little Sparrowhawk, Spotted Eagle Owl and Cape Vulture frequently seen. There is a hide at one of the small dams where Black Crake, Yellow-billed Duck and Moorhen are found. The reserve is also home to the rare Waterberg Copper butterfly. There are over 70 km of hiking trails on the farm as well as a variety of self-catering cottages.
Dinonyane is situated 1km from the entrance gate to Nylsvley Nature Reserve. The lodge is situated in thornveld and the well-watered gardens with secluded ponds attract a host of bushveld bird, particularly in the dry periods. It is not unusual to see over 30 bird species in the gardens in a morning, including Brown-hooded Kingfisher, Violet-backed Starling and Pearl-spotted Owlet. The lodge can accommodate up to 40 guests in a range of accommodation options with some self-catering units; other facilities include a restaurant, bar, lapa, swimming pool and tennis court. Dinonyane offers excursions into Nylsvley Nature Reserve and catering for special events.
This large dam is in the foothills of the Waterberg between Mookgophong and Mokopane. There is a variety of habitats in the reserve with wooded hills, savanna bushveld, open plains, broadleaved woodland, the open water of the dam itself and its well-vegetated banks. Martial Eagle, African Hawk Eagle and African Fish Eagle all breed in the reserve. This is one of the few places in the country where Garganey has been recorded and Osprey is regularly seen in summer. Coqui and Shelley’s Francolin are also often seen and heard; Freckled Nightjar and Mocking Chat are found in the hills. More than twelve species of shrike occur there as well as Yellow-throated Petronia and Orange-breasted Waxbill. The reserve is home to various game species and walking is allowed; there is also a campsite.
Directions: Travel on the Sterk Rivier road off the R101 between Mookgophong and Mokopane; after 17km turn left onto a dirt road and travel a further 5km to the reserve.
Izintaba is a 1,200 hectare reserve situated in the Waterberg near Vaalwater. There is a diversity of habitats including open plains, rocky kloofs, dam, seasonal rivers, waterfalls and wetland. There are over 200 bird species and 40 mammal species in the area; specials include Verreaux’s Eagle, Denham’s Bustard and Short-toed Rock Thrush. Guided drives in a 4x4 vehicle are offered, or you can do a private drive in your own car. There is no dangerous game on the property and there are various marked trails for walking or cycling. Accommodation is in 6 luxury fully-equipped self-catering thatched cottages, sleeping between 4 and 17 people. Each cottage has a patio with views over the bushveld, a private braai area and indoor fireplace. Breakfasts and dinners are offered in the dining room, there is also a pool and jungle gym.
The 3,000 hectare private Palala River Reserve is situated in the Waterberg Biosphere and is bisected by the Palala River for 7km. The wide variety of habitats provides excellent birding. African Finfoot, White-Backed Night Heron, Little Bittern and Half-collared Kingfisher can be found along the river; the dense riverine vegetation is a good spot to look for Terrestrial Brownbul, Yellow-bellied Greenbul, White-throated Robin-Chat and African Firefinch. A spring-fed wetland in the north of the reserve is home to numerous local specials and an early morning visit will reveal White-backed Duck, Black Crake, African Jacana and African Snipe. Buff-spotted Flufftail is often heard calling from the reedbeds. The adjacent woodland is a good place to see Lizard Buzzard and Black Cuckooshrike. Bushveld birds are well represented in the rest of the reserve and Striped Kingfisher, Purple Roller, Grey Penduline Tit, Temminck’s Courser and Little Sparrowhawk can be seen. Kurrichane Buttonquail also occur in the area. There are various accommodation options in the reserve. Jembisa Bush Home comprises 5 en-suite bedrooms accommodating 10 adults and 4 children; there is a wooden deck overlooking the Palala River, swimming pool, floodlit tennis court and extensive library and resident chef. Three self-catering Palala River Cottages are also situated on the reserve accommodating between 2 and 10 people per unit. A wide variety of bush experiences is offered on the reserve including guided walks, game drives, night drives, mountain biking, photographic safaris and camping-out under the stars.
Kololo Game Reserve is in the heart of the Waterberg Biosphere next to Marakele National Park and Welgevonden Private Nature Reserve, approximately 39km from Vaalwater and halfway down the Bakkers Pass road. Habitats on the reserve include grassland, broadleaved woodland and mountain streams. Around 320 bird species occur in the area and more than 200 species have been seen on Kololo. A few of the special birds which can be seen include Blue Crane, Denham’s Bustard, Secretary Bird, Ayres’s Hawk Eagle, Eurasian Hobby, African Green Pigeon, Pennant-winged Nightjar, Grey-headed and Half-collared Kingfisher, Greater Honeyguide, Dusky Lark, Black Cuckooshrike, Olive-tree Warbler and White backed Vulture. Kololo offers guided game drives and there are various walking trails. The gardens around the lodge provide great bird watching and raptors are often seen from the two lookout decks which have fantastic views over the plains of Welgevonden. The lodge can accommodate 47 guests in 12 fully-equipped self-catering chalets of different size and rates; there is also a double-volume restaurant, a bar and swimming pool.
Lindani is a 3,000 hectare private game farm situated near Vaalwater. Varied habitats include bushveld savanna, mountains and valleys, dams, wetlands and sandstone cliffs. Over 240 species of birds may be seen, including Knob-billed Duck, African Black Duck, African Snipe, Temminck’s Courser, Denham’s Bustard, Shelley’s Francolin, African Hawk-Eagle, Bat Hawk, Jacobin Cuckoo, Ant-eating Chat, GreyTit-Flycatcher, Ashy Flycatcher, Fan-tailed Widowbird, Fish Eagle and Verreaux’s Eagle, and various Larks and Pipits. Guided game drives are offered and guests also have the freedom to explore Lindani on foot, bicycle or in their own vehicles. Mountain bikers will particularly enjoy the 50km of single track trails! There are 8 generously equipped self-catering lodges accommodating 4 to 8 people each and an 8-bedded tented camp; these are all set far apart and booked to a single group to ensure privacy. Guests can also order a selection of freshly prepared meals from the farm kitchen.
Matamba is situated on a 400 hectare game farm within the Waterberg Biosphere. Habitats include Terminalia bushveld and open plains with rocky outcrops; there are over 60km of walking and mountain biking trails with spectacular views of the Welgevonden Game Reserve. Matamba has 4 waterholes, a thatched hide and raised viewing deck. There is relaxed plains game in the reserve and the birdlife is prolific: Bushveld Pipit, Lizard Buzzard and Black-chested Snake Eagle are frequently seen. Matamba offers two different bush campsites. Mara’s Camp, nestled under Wild Syringa trees in thick woodland, is a private camp for one group only. Tau Camp has 4 individual campsites set 200m apart in open woodland with communal bathrooms and kitchenette. Both camps are unfenced allowing the game to wander freely.
Directions: Matamba is located on the R33 between Vaalwater and Lephalale.
This RAMSAR site is the largest and most intact seasonal floodplain in the country. The area has over 365 bird species recorded, with 104 of these being water birds. The floodplain is inundated every few years and when it floods, several rare and endangered waterbirds breed there. All three of the Bittern species occur and breed there and all of the southern African Herons have been recorded there, including the country’s largest recorded breeding concentrations of Great Egret, Black Heron, Squacco Heron and Black-crowned Night Heron. Striped Crake, Lesser Moorhen and Allen’s Gallinule breed there; Streaky-breasted Flufftail have been recorded there. Pygmy Goose, White-backed and Knob-billed Duck are some of the 15 Duck and Goose species that occur at Nylsvley in the wet years. The wetland is surrounded by typical bushveld savanna, in the dry years the area is still a prime birding destination for bushveld birding. Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Olive-tree Warbler and Tinkling Cisticola can be seen. There is a large concentration of Pearl-spotted Owlet along with 7 other Owl species. There is accommodation and a campsite in the reserve, as well as a variety of birder friendly accommodation around the reserve and in Modimolle and Mookgophong, less than a thirty minute drive away.
Directions: Travel on the R101 between Modimolle and Mookgophong, then turn towards Boekenhout. Continue 8km on this road, the reserve gate is on the left just after the railway line.
Shondoro Mountain Retreat is a 185 hectare bushveld farm in the Waterberg Biosphere near Vaalwater. Around 190 bird species have been seen on the property, including Lazy Cisticola, Shelley’s Francolin and Cape Vulture. There are walking and mountain biking trails and a natural swimming pool overlooking the mountains. There are 3 stone and thatch cottages each with a fully-equipped outside kitchen and private braai area. There is also a communal braai area at the swimming pool. Guided birding weekends and tree identification courses can be arranged on request.
This bush camp is situated on a cattle and game farm near Pienaarsrivier. The Kalahari thornveld, open grassland and riparian habitats in this area are home to Tinkling Cisticola, Pied babbler and Crimson-breasted Shrike. This area is also well known for the variety of warblers in the summer months. There is a good range of birdlife in the area and up to fifty species can be seen in a morning session. The Kgomo kgomo floodplain, one of the best spots in the country for spotting a variety of water birds, is within easy reach from the bush camp (7 km on the Zaagkuildrift road) and there is also a nearby bird sanctuary. The whole property can be explored on foot and there are also several dirt roads on the farm suitable for sedan vehicles. The bush camp is situated in a private area some distance from the main gravel road. It can accommodate 12 people in a single group and comprises separate buildings surrounding a central braai area. There are five bedrooms, four of which are en-suite, and a fully-equipped rustic kitchen. All pets are welcome. The camp is comfortable with basic amenities, as well as electricity, it is serviced daily, and is great for birders who want to be out in the bush. There is a bird bath at the camp and various water points around the farm.