Waterberg


The Waterberg region...

... is an area of great natural beauty where the environment is characterised by massive stone buttresses and deep forested valleys. The area has a wealth of resources - including scenic beauty, a great variety of flora and fauna and warm and welcoming people. 

The Waterberg, with its great variety of wildlife, birds and scenic splendour, is one of South Africa's prime eco-tourism destinations. The region is sparsely populated, and attracts a large number of domestic visitors from Gauteng every weekend. The region includes the farming towns of Thabazimbi, Bela Bela, Modimolle, Mookgophong and Mokopane. The Springbok flats extend eastwards from Modimolle over the Nylsvley Floodplain.

Much of the region - which is home to the Waterberg UNESCO Biosphere - is comprised of private game farms and nature reserves, including the Marakele National Park and the privately owned Welgevonden Game Reserve. Waterberg is also home to the Nylsvley Wetlands (one of South Africa's most important wetland bird sanctuaries and a RAMSAR wetland), Makapans Valley World Heritage Site, the ever popular Bela Bela Hot Springs and the Waterberg Meander.

There are a variety of golf courses in the area that offer unique golfing experiences where golfers share the greens with wildlife.

The well-known Afrikaans writer - Eugene Marais - lived in the area from 1905 onwards, and produced various works from his study of animal behaviour (ethology), for which he is acknowledged to be the father of. He was a naturalist that studied baboons, ants and snakes, amongst others, during his time in the Waterberg.

History

Scientists uncovered the remains of Australopithecus africanus who lived and hunted in the mountains over 2,5 million years ago. Stone age people followed, but it is thought that they only moved through the area. Later came the early iron age migrants who were attracted by the rich iron ore deposits around Thabazimbi. The San hunter-gatherers left a record of their passage through the area in the form of rock art - with various sites being available for visits. The more recent inhabitants of the Waterberg, mainly the Pedi, arrived from the north and settled in small communities. When Chief Sekwati took over the leadership, groups were consolidated to strengthen their defence options against marauding bands of Zulu and others. The first people of European origin arrived in 1808, to be followed shortly thereafter by missionaries, hunters and traders. Then came the Voortrekker settlers, who generally kept to the safer routes on the lower reaches of the mountains.