10 things to know about Welgevonden, home of the Big 5
This private game reserve in the Waterberg, Limpopo, a 2.5-hour drive from Joburg, is a great choice for those seeking a game getaway close to SA's biggest city
1. Welgevonden is a 36,000ha private game reserve in the Waterberg district of Limpopo.
2. After a number of private farms had been consolidated and efforts had been made to return the land to its natural state, it was declared a conservation area in 1993.
3. The reserve is home to over 50 mammal species.
4. No private vehicles are allowed inside the reserve. Day visitors are also not allowed.
5. It is a two-and-a-half hour drive and a 45-minute flight from Johannesburg. It also has two airstrips and a helipad.
6. There are more than 20 accommodation options in the reserve, from self-catering to sustainable luxury five-star lodges. All offer a range of activities and game drives and most limit the number of guests to 10 people.
7. The best time of year for wildlife viewing is in winter.
8. Between October 2015 and February 2016, the reserve had an outbreak of Canine Distemper Virus, which wiped out the lion population. The sole survivor, a lioness, still roams the reserve. A report on the outbreak was published in the African Journal of Wildlife Research, an important contribution to the conservation of lions and other predator species. Recently, two prides were introduced to the reserve. The Western pride and the Southern pride now boost seven lions in total.
9. Two of the reserve's conservationists are qualified "sky rangers" and will bring a
state-of-the-art telescope to any lodge (on request) for a night of guided stargazing.
10. The San Bushman inhabited the Waterberg region around 2,000 years ago and guests can also go on guided tours and learn about the San's spiritual practices.