Gweda Lodge is situated in the Mabalingwe Game Reserve among the famous Waterberg mountains. The UNESCO Waterberg Biosphere Reserve is a Bushveld district within in the Limpopo Province of South Africa. This area has a few well-kept secrets from luxury lodges to world class golf courses that offer you a to an unforgettable bush experience.
As a completely malaria-free zone the Waterberg region is a utopia for safari lovers. There are numerous activities for the adventure seekers, the conservationists and the eco tourists alike. At least 18 threatened or scarce plants species, 11 bird species, 4 reptile species, 4 species of fish, one butterfly species and 18 mammals occur in the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve. All are deemed of the utmost importance for biodiversity conservation.
With so much to choose from we thought of putting together a short list of activities ranging from animal encounters to luxury spa sessions all within driving distance of Gweda Lodge, not including game drives in and around Mabalingwe Nature Reserve of course.
1. Jugomaro Predator Park
Only 1 ½ hours’ drive from Gweda Lodge towards Vaalwater, you can visit Jugomaro, a sanctuary for rescued predators including tigers (Bengal and Siberian), Tawny Lion, White Lions, Caracals (also known as Rooikatte) as well as a Canadian Timber Wolf. The farm is owned by the Fernandes family who are well known for their dedication to conserving the life of wild cats, taking on mistreated, unwanted, or orphaned wild predators. To admire these majestic creatures up close their feeding tours start at 2 p.m. everyday, with the exception of Wednesdays.
2. ZA Cheetah Conservation – Cheetah Experience
Approximately 40 kilometers from Gweda Lodge you can visit the Cheetah Experience which is home to a number of endangered and threatened species, including cheetahs, leopards, male non-breeding lions, servals, caracals, African wildcats, wolves, meerkats and a Siberian tiger.
This project takes in rescued animals from the local area, so they also have various animals from time to time, including a goat and chickens. When you visit you will learn all about the animals, have a chance to take some amazing photos and learn how you can work together to protect these precious species; all while getting the opportunity to be close enough to hear a cheetah purr and see the spectacular markings of our stealthy black leopards.
3. Bambelela Wildlife Care and Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation Facility
A mere 50 kilometers from Gweda Lodge past Bela-Bela you will find Bambelela (which means “to hold on” in Zulu) where Silke von Eynern and her incredible team of staff and volunteers concentrate mainly on Vervet monkey rehabilitation, taking in injured and orphaned monkeys, forming troops and finding monkey-friendly game farms to release a rehabilitated troop. To date they have successfully given 15 troops (over 300 monkeys), a second chance to live free again.
As a persecuted species, these monkeys had lost their freedom due to habitat destruction, illegal shootings by farmers, snares, electrocutions, pet or Muti trade (Muti is the term for traditional medicine in Southern Africa).
Bambelela offers one and a half hour guided tours offering in-depth knowledge and first-hand experiences about hand-raising wild animals and primates. Some of the animals can be touched and there are great photo opportunities. Tours are by appointment only.
4. Adventures with Elephants
Adventures with Elephants is ±15 minutes away from Gweda Lodge and has been operating in South Africa since 2010. They have had the honour of educating over 15000 guests a year, in the marvels of the African elephant with up close and personal encounters. All of the elephants at EFAF [Elephants for Africa Forever] destinations are elephants that were considered ‘problem elephants’ and as such were going to be destroyed.
Problem elephants are elephants that overpopulate and have a negative impact on the environment and other wildlife or elephant that caused damage to property (Human-Elephant Conflict) or to other wildlife. Instead of destroying these animals, they have brought them in and tamed them for educational hands-on interactions.
You can choose between a 1-hour educational experience, a nature walk & elephant interaction and an elephant photo shoot or request a tailor-made experience that will be carried out with respect for the welfare of both our majestic residents and you, the guest.
5. Zebula Golf Estate & Spa
Just next to Adventures with Elephants, you will find Zebula Golf Estate & Spa with a huge variety of activities ranging from a Game viewing safari, Elephant Interaction, Quadbike Safari, Archery sessions or even a round of Golf. This is a great option for those high-level adventurous ones who can’t ever seem to sit still, but also for those looking to simply take it easy at the luxury spa.
6. Warmbaths, A Forever Resort
This outdoor waterpark in Bela-Bela is a fun family option as they have day visitor passes that give you access to Braai Areas & Picnic Spots, Cable Water Ski, Fu-Fi Slide, Giant Slide, Kiddies Play Park, Kiddies Swimming Pool & Splash Island, Mini Golf, Outdoor Swimming Pools (Heated), Speed Slides, Super Tubes & the Wave Pool from 08h00 – 17h00 daily. For those who do not want to braai there is a snack shop as well as Tacoma Spur Steak Ranch.
7. Mbali Day Spa – Mabalingwe
Step away from the hustle and bustle of city life and into a bushveld escape at Mabalingwe’s Mbali Day Spa, located next to Reception and using locally made treatment products by Kalahari Ancient Desert Secrets. This spa experience is one you do not want to miss. Choose from a range of tailored treatments and indulge in blissfully relaxing me-time. The Spa is open 09:00 to 18:00 daily.
8. Makapan Valley World Heritage Site
For the historians and archeologists a slightly further drive of about 2 hours will bring you to the UNESCO Makapan Valley World Heritage Site or as it’s locally known Makapansgat (/mʌkʌˈpʌnsxʌt/), an archaeological location within the Makapansgat and Zwartkrans Valleys, northeast of Mokopane in Limpopo.
Makapansgat Valley has been described as having one of the greatest paleontological records of human evolution in the world and consists of the following sites: Makapansgat lime-works, Cave of Hearths and Hyaena Mandible Cave, Buffalo Cave, Ficus Cave and Iron Age Site, Peppercorn’s Cave, Rainbow Cave, Historic Cave or Makapansgat, Cold Air Cave, Gutentight Cave and Murzel’s Cave.
If you have an interest in archeology or paleontology, you have to put Makanpansgat on your list of places to visit.
These suggestions are only some of the many day activities around the Waterberg area that can easily fit into a day drive from Gweda Lodge. There are many more options and regardless of the duration of your stay at the lodge you never need to be bored when you visit the Waterberg area.
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