Welgevonden Private Game Reserve

A cheetah spotted on safari in the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve.

Welgevonden Private Game Reserve offers luxury safaris in a beautiful malaria-free wilderness.

Size:
380km2
Province:
Limpopo
Number of mammal species:
129
Number of bird species:
350
Number of plant species:
2 000

Introduction

Welgevonden (which translates to “well found”) lies on the Waterberg plateau, just north of Johannesburg in South Africa. The reserve comprises 37 500 hectares and consists of mountain bushveld with rivers running through it. Private vehicles are not permitted in order to minimize the impact of humans on the area, and only a limited number of guests are allowed at any one time. The unique environment is constantly under conservation research in order to improve management protocols and the game viewing experience. The ancient Bushman rock art found in the reserve are just one of the many special attractions.

Reasons to Visit

1

No worries, be happy...

Malaria is a big concern in the northeastern parts of South Africa. In areas where there are malaria-carrying mosquitoes, visitors are advised to take anti-malarial prophylactics as prescribed by their personal physicians. These pills may have side effects, and are not an option for pregnant women or very young children. Welgevonden offers you peace of mind – a full northern South-African safari experience without the worries and risk of malaria.

2

White Rhinoceros

Rhino poaching is a big concern in South Africa today, and anti-poaching campaigns have been well publicized. The Welgevonden reserve is famous for its white rhino population, and you will have the privilege of seeing one of the largest white rhino herds found in Africa. Their conservation efforts should be commended, as they have a rhino identikit database which was established specifically for all known individuals on the reserve.

3

Seclusion

All the lodges in the Welgevonden Game Reserve are built to a strict aesthetic code - secluded and hidden from view. This means that it does not disturb the nature around the lodge and that you can expect to see animals quite close to where you are staying. It also means that you don’t see too many other people – many lodges only have place for about 10 guests - so there are minimal disturbances.

Useful Info

Getting There
Plane

By Air

It is easy to access the Welgevonden Game Reserve by air, as there are several landing strips as well as a heli-pad. The flight is only about 45 minutes when you travel from Johannesburg. Of course, flying is slightly more risky than driving, as the weather plays a role in whether you can depart or land. Flying is also a great way to see a part of South Africa from an altitude, so make sure you get a window seat!

Car

By Road

The Welgevonden Game Reserve is a mere two and a half hour drive from Johannesburg via the N1. The game reserve is north of Johannesburg, situated in the Waterberg District of Limpopo. You will be transported in an air-conditioned vehicle. The drive is scenic and will allow you to see parts of Gauteng and Limpopo as you travel.

Weather & Best Time To Visit

It is mostly warm at the Welgevonden Game Reserve. There are three distinct seasons in the Waterberg region where the game reserve is situated. The dry season is from May to July. During this time it is quite cold. From August to October, it remains dry in the game reserve, but the days become warmer and thunderstorms become prevalent in the late afternoon.

The wetter, rainy season is from November to April. During this time it is quite warm, with the average maximum temperature reaching about 30 degrees Celsius.  There is no best time to visit the Welgevonden Game Reserve, and you will be able to enjoy all the activities all year round, just be mindful of the weather when packing.

History
In 1993, Welgevonden was divided into 500 hectare blocks which were sold to corporate and private clients on the basis of freehold title. The reserve is becoming increasingly popular in both South Africa and on he international front, because of the high quality game viewing available, combined with spectacularly luxurious lodges.

All internal fences have been removed, and the perimeter fence has been electrified in order to prevent animals straying onto neighboring properties. Shortly after proclamation, a translocation exercise was launched in order to restock the area with animals that were found here historically.

The roads were upgraded and, today, the reserve boasts 430 kilometers of good quality gravel roads that are in part maintained by the exclusion of private vehicles from the reserve. A relatively small number of visitors are allowed into the reserve at any given time, in order to minimize the impact of human activity on the animals and plants in the reserve.

Wildlife
Welgevonden is home to all the large mammals that the African bush is known for. Here you will find elephant, black and white rhino, lion, leopard and cheetah. The very rare African wild dog has also been reintroduced into the reserve. Welgevonden is home to buffalo, hyena, foxes and antelope ranging from kudu to duiker.

Other large antelope such as sable, eland, giraffe, waterbuck and tsessebe may also be seen on the reserve, along with smaller species such as impala. Around the rest camps, monkeys and baboons are liable to get up to mischief and need to be watched carefully.

Welgevonden is particularly well-stocked with birds, and many birders believe it is one of the best birding spots in Africa. The Honorary Rangers organize an annual birding day and birders from all over the country descend on Welgevonden in order to take part in the reserve's bird census.

Welgevonden is particularly well suited to raptors, as these birds love to use the up-drafts generated by the cliff faces of the Waterberg. Wahlberg's eagle is a prominent visitor during the summer, and this magnificent bird can be seen alongside many other eagle, falcon and hawk species.

Vegetation & Terrain
The Waterberg, which translates to “Water Mountain” in Afrikaans, is an anomaly in geographic terms as it is a remnant of erosion and not a product of volcanic activity or continental drift. The iron and manganese that is found in these mountains give the rocks their distinctive coloring of red, purple and orange.

A large part of the Waterberg Plateau was turned into a conservancy for animals and birds, and it is considered a birding paradise. Part of this conservancy is known as the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve.

The reserve is a mixture of mountains, dense bush and savanna wilderness and the many effervescent streams that flow through the reserve have been instrumental in carving out the impressive gullies and ravines.

Three rivers run through the reserve on their way to the Limpopo River, and the multi-colored rocks in the area give this reserve a visual impact that is second to none. The mild climate of the region is particularly attractive to visitors, and the reserve can be visited all year round.

Activities

The four most popular activities at the Welgevonden Game Reserve are game viewing by game drive or guided walk, bird watching, stargazing and guided tours to the Bushman rock art. The guided tours to view wildlife offer the opportunity to have up close and personal encounters with the animals that call the Welgevonden Game Reserve home - at a safe distance, of course. With over 300 bird species, including the blue crane, in the reserve, you will have ample opportunity to bird watch without even trying.

Stargazing is spectacular in the Welgevonden Game Reserve, as it is far from the city lights and pollution. The only thing that can interfere is if the moon shines too bright. This activity is much better in the winter months, when the Milky Way, Southern Cross and many other star signs and constellations are at their brightest and most visible.  The guided Bushman rock art tour is interesting and informative. These paintings are believed to have been made more than 2 000 years ago – using ocher, iron oxides, crush ostrich egg shells, coal and even blood. Some of these paintings were made while the bushman went into a trance and it was their way of communicating what they saw while they were in the trance.

Experiences to be Savored

A rhino and her calf grazing in the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve.

Skip the museums

Welgevonden Game Reserve offers guided tours to several Bushman paintings found in the game reserve, and the experience takes you back to the root of art. While on this tour you will receive information about how and why these paintings were made.

Stargazing

Welgevonden Game Reserve is far from city lights and pollution, so the stars are as bright as can be. You will be dumbstruck when you first lay your eyes the Milky Way and Southern Cross as clearly as you will from the game reserve. The winter months are best for stargazing.

Up close and personal

The Welgevonden Game Reserve has made preserving the delicate ecology of the park one of their main priorities. The lodges are small and the game reserve is never flooded with tourists. It is the perfect place to have up close and personal encounters with the wildlife during game drives.

FAQ

Do all of the Big Five animals occur at Welgevonden Game Reserve?
Yes, along with over 50 other mammal species.
What special activities doe the reserve offer?
Horse-back safaris are wonderful, and visiting the rock art sites is a must.
What makes Welgevonden unique?
Welgevonden is one of the few malaria-free parks in the northeast.
Can we expect some good bird watching opportunities?
Definitely - the game reserve has over 300 bird species.
Which time of year is best to visit the game reserve?
Any time of year. All the activities can be enjoyed in most weather conditions, but stargazing is better in the winter).
Are there night drives to view the nocturnal animals?
Yes, there are a variety of game drives. Late afternoon drives that extend into the early evening provide the opportunity to encounter nocturnal wildlife.
Is it possible to drive in the park with a normal sedan?
No private cars are allowed in the park. Your game drives will be conducted by the expert rangers at the reserve's various lodges.

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