North of Johannesburg, the wide open plains of bushveld stretch as far as the wide Limpopo River and Zimbabwe. Rising out of these plains are the dramatic and beautiful Waterberg Mountains, only 2½ to 3 hours drive from Johannesburg. The Waterberg is known for its luxurious and romantic game lodges as well as a number of family friendly safari options. Further north the mystical rocky outcrops stand out around Mapungubwe National Park and the Soutpansberg.
This area comprises of 2 quite different areas. The mountainous Waterberg region and the Limpopo region to the far north.
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.
The Northern Limpopo province is unspoilt Africa at its best. With sleepy country towns, ruins of ancient civilisations and the proud culture of the Venda people. In the far northern part of Limpopo lies a little known region of mountains, forests and holy ruins. Here you can enjoy adventurous safaris staying at community-orientated safari lodges. Or you can explore the ruins at Mapungubwe National Park, hiking in the Soutpansberg and Magoebaskloof. The northern Limpopo can also be combined with a visit to the Kruger Park to the east.
You can begin your holiday with a safari at one of the lodges in the Waterberg. They you head to the Mashatu Game Reserve just over the border in Botswana. En route you can visit South Africa’s newest National Park at Mapungubwe. This is home to an ancient civilization which rivalled Great Zimbabwe in its time.
Alternatively you can head to the pretty highlands town of Tzaneen. From there, you continue to the Kruger National Park or to one of its adjacent private game reserves.
Attractions of the Waterberg & Far North
• 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
• Adventurous safaris at Mashatu, The Outpost or Pafuri Camp
Best time to visit the Waterberg & Limpopo?
Both the Waterberg and Limpopo regions are in the Summer rainfall region. So they have hot humid summers and dry sunny winters. Thus we’d recommend any time from April to December. But the Waterberg and Tzaneen are upland areas. So it can get very cold at night in mid-winter (June/July). In contrast the Lowveld region of Venda and the northern Kruger remain warm throughout the year.