You may find yourself asking ‘where in the world is Welgevonden Game Reserve? I've never heard of it, and therein lies the magic of it!
Welgevonden Game Reserve is a 37,500 ha private game reserve located conveniently north of Johannesburg, in South Africa. It is also contiguous with Marakele National Park.
It's easily accessible so you can just pick up a hire car and drive yourself the three hours to the reserve, allowing you to watch the scenery change as you reach the Waterberg Plateau. Once you arrive you can simply relax and allow your rangers to take you on a safari experience throughout this pristine, exclusive wilderness.
The reserve is malaria free, making it not only a great spot for families but also adults do not have to consider the ins and outs of malaria prophylactics and the side effects that may follow.
Besides being a home to all of the ‘Big 5 species Welgevonden is home to over 50 different mammal species and prolific birdlife. It also has one of the largest populations of white rhino on any private reserve in Africa.
Out on the grassy plains you can spy a variety of antelope, from the largest species – the eland, to the smallest species – the shy duiker. The plains are dotted with giraffe, zebra, buffalo, warthog and the big cats that follow them. Lion make themselves quite at home on the reserve as well as cheetah and leopard.
It's a pleasure to set out on an exciting night drive, the buzz of cicadas all around you and the cool night air against your skin, in search of rare species such as the brown hyena or elusive leopard, aardvark or aardwolf. The reserves leopard research, involved in conservation, has caught pictures of some stunning leopards as well as other unusual cats with the use of their trip camera system, all of which you could spot on your safari.
The benefit of a private reserve over a national park is that you get more exclusivity to your experience. Vehicle numbers are limited and each vehicle on the reserve is driven by a professional ranger, to allow you to get a more rounded and complete safari. This also ensures that the reserve remains protected and there is little impact from people, exactly the way it should be.
Besides the safari experience, there is a choice of lodges you can stay in on the reserve. A couple of our favourites are Shibula Lodge & Bush Spa and Makweti Safari Lodge.
Shibula has the acclaim of being voted ‘one of the top ten most romantic destinations in South Africa by Getaway Travel Magazine as well being recommended by many others. It offers the discerning traveller a classic luxurious retreat. With opulent features such as bubbly Jacuzzis, romantic fireplaces and private pools each room has its own special something to entice. The lodge can also boast a great location within the reserve with its surrounding area being home to the highest concentration of leopards.
Makweti's intimate surroundings accommodate just ten privileged guests reserving an air of tranquillity and elegance. Maintaining a feel for old Africa the lodge melts into its rugged surroundings, with a focus on using local materials. Each room has a distinctly African style to it with romantic features such as private plunge pools looking out into the bush, indoor and outdoor showers and quintessentially Victorian bathtubs.
A stay at the Welgevonden Game Reserve is really easily combined with locations such as Cape Town, Mauritius or Mozambique thanks to its convenience to Johannesburg. The short transfer from the reserve to the airport allows you to connect with many different schedules making it the perfect safari retreat to include in any trip to Africa.