Mmabolela covers 6,500 hectares of bushveld with 12km of Limpopo River frontage. The combination of permanent pools in the Limpopo River, tall riparian woodland and arid thornveld intersected by numerous ephemeral streams provides a rich diversity of habitats and plant communities. The reserve is renowned for its exceptional wealth of birdlife; over 300 species have been recorded in the area, with specials including African Finfoot; Verreaux’s Eagle Owl; Broad-billed Roller and Dusky Lark. In addition many migrants traverse the area during spring and autumn. There are a number of 4x4 or SUV self-drive roads that cover the entire reserve or, for the more energetic, walking, jogging and cycling tracks. Self-catering accommodation is offered in two fully equipped and staffed houses. The Weerderdooper Homestead has three double rooms with four en-suite double rooms in the adjacent cottages. The quaint Tuli Homestead has four double rooms. Visits to Mmabolela are limited to homestead guests only, ensuring an exclusive go-where-you-will stay.
Mapungubwe National Park protects a significant stretch of Limpopo River frontage and associated riparian woodland. There is a variety of accommodation options and various wheelchair-friendly birding facilities. There is an aerial boardwalk through the forest canopy on the banks of the Limpopo River, look for Meves’s Starling, Meyer’s Parrot and Tropical Boubou and search the sandbanks for White-fronted Plover. White-fronted Bee-eaters are common and European and Southern Carmine Bee-eaters can be seen in summer. There is a surfaced pathway and several lookout platforms at the confluence of the Limpopo and Shashe Rivers. This is a good spot to watch for raptors. There is also a bird hide at Maloutswa Pan; a good variety of water and bushveld birds can be seen through the year; Dwarf Bittern, Greater Painted-Snipe and Grey-headed Kingfisher may be seen in the summer months. The Park also contains a great number of archaeological sites dating from the early Stone Age and Iron Age; the most notable of these is Mapungubwe Hill. For further information see the SANParks website.
Balerno Bush Lodge is situated next to Mapungubwe National Park in a mixture of Mopane and broadleaved woodland with sandstone outcrops. The farm dam attracts a good variety of waterbirds and raptors. The camp is built into a rocky outcrop and the surrounding gardens are home to Paradise Flycatchers, Mocking Cliff Chats and Red-winged Starlings. The farm is safe to explore on foot and also has game species such as kudu, zebra, wildebeest and impala. The camp has seven thatched bungalows, each with a double and single bed and en-suite bathroom. There is a well-equipped central open-plan living area with kitchen, lounge, stoep, boma and plunge pool. Meals can be arranged by prior request. The owners are also able to organise access to other farm dams in the area if this is requested in advance.
Palala is located on a 14,000 hectare reserve in the Groblersbrug area and extends along 16km of Limpopo River frontage with fringing riparian woodland and surrounding mixed bushveld. Of the over 300 bird species recorded in the area, some of the specials are Meves’s Starling, Three-banded Courser, Tropical Boubou, White-crowned Lapwing, Allen’s Gallinule, Kori Bustard and White-backed Vulture. There is a bird hide and vulture restaurant in the reserve. The upmarket lodge with a capacity of 160 guests includes a range of luxury suites, restaurant offering fine wines and dining, outdoor lapa, ballroom complete with ceiling mirrors and crystal chandeliers, a variety of conference venues and activities, chapel, island furnished with couches and cocktail tables, outside deck and infinity pool. For those who wish to arrive in style, there is a landing strip and two helipads. Activities on offer include game drives, guided walks, bicycle safaris and fishing.