Waterberg wanderlust: 5 reasons to visit the Waterberg

Posted on 14 March 2024

South Africa has many “must-visit” areas. There’s the Garden Route, the Karoo, the world-famous Kruger National Park and countless beautiful towns along our sprawling coastline, to name a few. Perhaps lesser known, but certainly right up there with the very best the country has to offer, is the Waterberg.

The Waterberg includes the towns of Modimolle, Vaalwater, Bela-Bela, Thabazimbi, Lephalale and Mookgophong. Little-known and off-the-beaten track places perhaps, but this area is significant for its biological diversity in the form of magnificent mountains, sprawling plains and escarpments, breathtaking flora and diverse fauna.

The Waterberg is set within a UNESCO biosphere reserve and serves as an example of how a distinctive ecosystem coexists with humankind. Beyond its importance as a biologically diverse district, it’s an area that offers a travel experience like no other.

Five reasons you want the Waterberg on your travel bucket list.

1. Every kind of accommodation

Whether a luxurious eco-tent with views of the wildlife from your bed or an off-the-grid mountain cabin is your idea of great accommodation, the Waterberg has something for every preference.

Guests can look forward to world-class hospitality when booking a stay with Ntsako, an Airbnb Home Host and a recent graduate of the Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy. He is passionate about ensuring guests enjoy their time in the bush when they book a Private Room at the Lapalala Wilderness School.

2. Best-in-class safari experiences

reasons to visit the waterberg

The Waterberg is home to more than 90 mammal species, including giraffe, blue wildebeest, oryx, white and black rhino, zebra, pangolin and warthog, and more than 200 indigenous bird species.

There are many ways to experience the wildlife up close. The Jugomaro Predator Park is a sanctuary for lions, tigers and caracals, where visitors can join a daily feeding tour. Similarly, the Eventieria Wildlife Park is home to a variety of indigenous and exotic animal species, including white lions, wild dogs, corn snakes and iguanas.

3. A travel experience that gives back to the community

A family walk home in the harsh heat of the Waterberg region after collecting sticks to make innovative one-string guitars. Photo by by Thanda Kunene/ Getaway Gallery

Increasingly travellers are seeking travel experiences that are sustainable, local, diverse and inclusive. One way to travel more sustainably is by opting to visit less visited destinations, like the Waterberg, where tourism is central to empowering local communities.

Read: 5 Community based lodges to try in South Africa

The Airbnb Entrepreneurship Academy recently trained 41 new people in the Waterberg District Municipality, which helped support them to become tourism entrepreneurs to ultimately share their knowledge and homes with visitors to the area. By supporting these tourism entrepreneurs, travellers are contributing to the economic development of lesser-visited destinations, like the Waterberg.

4. Adventure aplenty

reasons to visit the waterberg

The sun sets in Bela Bela. Photo by Teagan Cunniffe.

Those who enjoy a touch of adrenaline with their nature experiences will delight in the area’s stunning hiking trails, mountain biking and 4×4 routes. There are routes to suit all levels of experience (and enthusiasm!) but you’re guaranteed spectacular views from wherever you go.

5. Locally curated experiences

reasons to visit the waterberg

Potjie time! Photo by Melanie van Zyl

From food tours to guided hikes, a beauty and wellness experience to learning more about beekeeping, the Waterberg offers as much to do as it does to see.

The best way to learn about the culture of the area and its people is with an experienced local guide who has that insider knowledge that takes a travel experience from interesting to intimate.

And the best part is that the Waterberg is a mere three-hour drive from Johannesburg, making it ideal for a weekend getaway out of the city.

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ALSO READ: 5 Eco-friendly getaways in South Africa

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