Bezhoek Private Nature Reserve
Conveniently located just 2 hours from Johannesburg and Pretoria at the start of the Olifants River Valley in Mpumalanga, the Bezhoek Nature Reserve spans over 4500 hectares of pristine, unspoilt African grassland.
The reserve is classified as irreplaceable and highly significant according to the Mpumalanga Tourism & Parks Authority’s bio- diversity criteria owing to the vast number of wildlife and bird species which inhabit it, as well as its extensive population of Cycads, cliffs, valleys and riverine forestation.
The Olifants and Klein Olifants rivers meander through the reserve before converging on the farm and continuing into the Kruger National Park. READ MORE
Driving in to the Bezhoek Nature Reserve you are likely to be greeted with herds of zebra, giraffe, kudu, impala, wildebeest and many other species all grazing symbiotically amongst one another. Whilst not often seen, the reserve is also home to leopard, hyena, aardvark, honey badgers, bush babies and porcupines. For the avid birders, over 290 bird species reside within the reserve including African Finfoot, Verreaux’s Eagle, White-bellied Korhaan, kingfishers, goshawks, swallows, nightjars and owls. READ MORE
Bezhoek Nature Reserve, situated in the transition area of the Lowveld and Highveld, boasts over 100 grass species – riverine vegetation excluded. Cycad populations of the critically endangered Encephalartos Middelburgensis and vulnerable Lanatus all occur in their natural habitats on the reserve, along with many other endangered and vulnerable plants.
The extensive river frontage, permanent internal wetlands and streams, riverine forestation, gorges, savannah plains, rocky outcrops and cliffs make the perfect habitat for numerous protected and red data listed species which have been confirmed by a visit from the South Africa National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI). All of the above more than justify the farm’s irreplaceable and highly significant status endorsed by the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT).
Unfortunately, alien and invasive vegetation such as Black Wattle, Poplar Canensis and Bankrupt Bush (Stoebie Vulgaris) occur in various areas on the reserve, but the owner is working to progressively eradicate all of these and return the farm to its natural state. READ MORE
Apart from the natural heritage (including the Cycads which have been declared as a National Heritage Site), an intensive heritage survey undertaken revealed several historical structures, initiation sites and graves within the Bezhoek Nature Reserve.
Preliminary indications are that several large stone walled Iron Age settlements (AD 1600 – 1830) occur on the farm Bezuidenhoutshoek. These archaeological remains, whilst still to be further investigated, can make an important contribution in terms of the regional understanding of Ndebele and Sotho occupation during the 18th and 19th centuries. As such, these sites have great research potential from an academic perspective as well as great intrinsic tourism value for the region.