Waterberg & Limpopo

The wide open plains of bushveld north of Johannesburg stretch as far as the wide Limpopo River. The dramatic natural beauty of the Waterberg mountains rises out of these plains...

Overview

North of Johannesburg, the wide open plains of bushveld stretch as far as the wide Limpopo River and Zimbabwe. The Limpopo province encompasses several discrete areas. It includes the Waterberg safari region only 3 hours from Johannesberg. As well, the northern Kruger National Park. The cultural heritage of the Mapungubwe National Park and finally the mountainous Soutpansberg. So we've divided it into mountainous Waterberg region, and the far northern Limpopo.

Waterberg Safari Options

Rising out of the bushveld plains are the dramatic and beautiful Waterberg Mountains. These lie only 2½ to 3 hours drive from Johannesburg.

The Waterberg is primarily a safari destination. Its attraction is that it offers malaria-free game-viewing within easy driving distance of Johannesburg. This is great for families who don’t want the hassle of flying to the Kruger. Or the more arduous drive to Madikwe. It also makes for a great combination with the Kruger given its relative proximity and contrasting terrain.

The Waterberg is known for its luxurious and romantic game lodges as well as a number of family friendly safari options. The Waterberg safari options include Welgevonden Private Game Reserve and Marakele National Park.

See HERE for more info.

Far northern Limpopo Safari Options

Further north the mystical rocky outcrops stand out around Mapungubwe National Park and the Soutpansberg. In this northern part of Limpopo is a  little-known region of mountains, forests and holy ruins. Here you can enjoy adventurous safaris staying at community-orientated safari lodges.

Again there are several discrete areas to visit.

  • The ruins of Mapungubwe National Park en route to Mashatu.
  • The Soutpansberg with its hiking, gentle game-viewing and cultural interest
  • Tzaneen and the Magoebaskloof Gorge
  • The northern Kruger National Park

see HERE for more info.

Zebra in Mapungubwe National Park

Features

Why you may love it

  • Malaria-free reserves suitable for family safaris
  • Big Five game reserves
  • Spectacular mountain scenery
  • Venda culture
  • Remote locations far from the madding crowds
  • Mapungubwe National Park with its ancient ruins

When to visit Waterberg & Limpopo

Nov to mid-March

Summer in Waterberg & Limpopo

Limpopo has a Summer rainfall climate with rains starting somewhere in November. The rains are heaviest in January and February but usually take the form of late afternoon or evening downpours which are actually welcome as it cools the air and keeps everything lush and green. Temperatures are hot and humid during the day and stay warm in the evening and night. Limpopo tends to be warmer than Waterberg because the Waterberg is higher in altitude and also further south (away from the equator). This is not the best season for safari as the bush is lush and verdant so it’s harder to spot the game. Plus animals don’t need to come to rivers and waterholes so much to drink. However birding is excellent and the game-viewing is still reasonable within the private game reserves. Afternoon thunder showers can also affect the safari activities. And summer is the time for mosquitos so ensure you have taken malaria prophylactics and cover up at night.
AVG RAINFALL 108mm
AVG DAYLIGHT 7 Hours
MAX TEMP 25 ℃ / 77 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 63 ℉

Mid-March to mid-May

Autumn in Waterberg & Limpopo

Autumn is a pleasant transitional period. By the end of March the rains have stopped, making game-viewing much easier. But it remains warm so sun-lovers won’t be disappointed. Nights are cooler but still very pleasant to eat outside though this starts to change in May… Again the Waterberg is noticeably cooler at night.
AVG RAINFALL 108mm
AVG DAYLIGHT 7 Hours
MAX TEMP 25 ℃ / 77 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 63 ℉

June to mid-Aug

Dry Winter in Waterberg & Limpopo

This is our dry winter climate with virtually no rain for months. This is the best time for game-viewing as the bush is less dense and the animals flock to the rivers for water. Daytime temperatures are very pleasant (21-24c). But – especially in the Waterberg - you will need to have warm clothing once the sun sets. And for any early morning game drives. Night-time temperatures can easily go below 5C in the mountainous Waterberg, especially in June and July. But it starts warming up in August.
AVG RAINFALL 108mm
AVG DAYLIGHT 7 Hours
MAX TEMP 25 ℃ / 77 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 63 ℉

Mid-Aug to October

End of dry season in Waterberg & Limpopo

Technically this is spring elsewhere. But it doesn’t feel very spring-like. Basically it is the end of the dry season it remains a very good time for safari, though the bush tends to be less attractive. The temperatures heat up quickly in September and October prior to the start of the summer rains which usually start in November. However October can bring some early heralding showers.
AVG RAINFALL 108mm
AVG DAYLIGHT 7 Hours
MAX TEMP 25 ℃ / 77 ℉
MIN TEMP 17 ℃ / 63 ℉

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Accommodation

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Natasha’s review of Kings Walden Garden Manor

Kings Walden is still our favourite place to stay in this relatively remote part of South Africa. Tzaneen is one of the most scenic places to stay as a stop-over between the Waterberg, Mashatu or the northern Limpopo area and the game lodges of the Greater Kruger Park.

However with Kings Walden, it may not suit everyone. The gardens reek of romance. And yet there is no denying that they have some maintenance issues to deal with. The new owner/manager Bridget as taken back ownership of her beloved family home, which has been operating as a boutique guest lodge under overseas ownership for some years. And she is keen to upgrade the rooms. (For example some areas need a fresh coat of paint. So for now, you get comfortable accommodation in an unarguably romantic setting.

The garden, which they are most famous for, does need some attention. But as it is in the style of a romantic English terrace garden,it is still a magical feature nonetheless.

At the moment they only offer 5 of their 6 rooms. As one of the rooms is being used by Bridget. Room 3 can take a triple and Rooms 5 & 6 are inter-leading. These two rooms overlook the garden and pool, whereas other rooms overlook the lawn and gardena.

They are known for their food. Dinner is a 4 course meal, with options changing on a nightly basis. (So pre-booking for dinner is essential). The dinner was good and very well presented and we especially thought their breakfast was very good as well.

Bridget is a lovely hostess and usually shares a bit of the property/family history with guests. Dining areas are swopped around, so depending on the weather, outside dining now offers a much better view, overlooking the iconic lightning tree. The table setting at dinner added a great ambience to our meal.

The rooms dont have air-conditioning, but this hilly area above Tzaneen is remarkably cooler, because of the elevation, than the heat that we felt in town. The ceiling fan was sufficient even in December (summer).

Conclusion - If you only want ultra-modern and all mod-cons then Kings Walden may not be for you. However if you like a little bit of romance and history and can trade this for a fresh paint of coat, then we recommend Kings Walden!

Cedarberg : Natasha Jantjies
Did you know
  • NamePreviously collectively called the Northern Transvaal
  • BordersLimpopo shares borders with Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique

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