Bela-Bela (previously known as Warmbaths) is named after the healing waters that give the town its name. Bela bela means ‘water that boils’ in the local Tswana language.
The hot mineral springs bubble out of the earth at a rate of about 22 000 litres per hour at a pleasant 53°C. Rich in sodium chloride, calcium carbonate and other mineral salts, these waters have healing properties that have long attracted visitors and tourists.
Bela-Bela is a historic town in the foothills of the Waterberg mountains. Within easy driving distance from Gauteng it is in a malaria-free area. The region has grown rapidly as an eco-tourism destination in the past decade. The town is surrounded by game lodges and reserves, conservancies and wilderness areas. This is Big 5 country - rugged and wildly beautiful. The town is also an agricultural centre for surrounding farmlands.
Look out for
Wilderness & mountains - Bela-Bela is a gateway to the private Welgevonden Game Reserve, Marakele National Park, Touchstone, Lapalala Wilderness and more. There are lodges, hideaways, hotels and bush escapes – many of which are part of the Waterberg UNESCO Biosphere.
Nylsvley Nature Reserve - The reserve is widely known for its large variety of bird species, claiming 370 of them. At any one time there are estimated to be approximately 80 000 birds in the area. During the flood season, the plains also become important in the breeding of large numbers of fish and frogs. These also make up the main food source for most of the bird life.
Hot springs - The springs in Bela-Bela contain dissolved salts like sodium chloride and calcium chloride, long known for their healing qualities. The family friendly Aventura Resort and Hydro is a popular spot. It has a 21 square metre inside pool, which leads to a cooler outside pool. There are also waterslides, tunnels and kiddies pools. Many health and pampering spots can be found in Bela-Bela and its surrounds.
Rhino Museum at Lapalala Wilderness - This museum is part of Lapalala Wilderness Reserve, which has a black rhino breeding programme. The reserve reintroduced black rhino into the Waterberg after they had been extinct in the area for over 100 years. It has a dedicated breeding programme.
Thaba Kwena - This crocodile farm is the largest in South Africa and is home to some 20 000 crocodiles. Most of them lie around in the sun all day – inviting visitors to view them. There are guided educational tours and you can watch these ancient creatures being fed.
Bela-Bela Waterfront - A new and upbeat complex, this is the place for art and crafts, curios and fabrics, as well as more conventional shopping.