Combining dramatic mountains, malaria-free Big Five game viewing and sites of great archaeological interest, the Waterberg region is one of our favourite areas in South Africa for the variety of activities on offer. Just a three-hour drive from Johannesburg, the Waterberg offers great game viewing, hiking and biking, as well as horseback safaris, making it a fun destination for a family holiday.
Nestled on the border of South Africa and Botswana, the Waterberg straddles some 15,000 square kilometres in the northern reaches of the Limpopo Province and is the perfect area for those looking for an off-the-beaten-track safari experience. Although the area is just a three-hour drive from Johannesburg, it attracts few tourists, so it can feel remote and wild. Home to the Big Five, along with hundreds of bird species, the Waterberg is also malaria-free, which we think makes it an ideal choice for families.
Not only will the rich and varied wildlife appeal to younger visitors, but the surrounding hills, valleys and gorges make the perfect playground, offering some great opportunities for exciting walking, riding and biking, along the numerous trails of the region. Choose between Marakele National Park, or one of the privately-owned reserves in the region, including the beautiful Welgevonden Game Reserve, where we can arrange for you to go rhino tracking, a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will bring you closer than ever to these incredible creatures.
We would also suggest taking a horseback safari. The game view the horses as just another animal, allowing you to become part of a herd of zebra, or to approach a hippo bathing in the water. This is an immersive experience, different to a normal game drive and an intimate way to get close to the wildlife while enjoying the incredible scenery. Or for a relaxing way to view wallowing elephants, hippos, warthogs, baboons and birds, we’d recommend a peaceful cruise on the Miss Mara, along the calm and peaceful waters of the Matlabas River.
There is also a wealth of cultural attractions to explore here, including significant San rock art sites. The Makapans Valley, northeast of Makapane, is a particularly interesting place to visit and is a great complement to a safari. Ancient hominid fossils have been uncovered here and there is also an intricate cave network, which has been declared a national monument.