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Serendipity 4x4 Eco Trails

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25km from Modimolle

-24.6167, 28.6009

40km, 4-5hrs, Grade 3-5

+27 82 553 3266 www.serendipitytrails.co.za

Configuration: A network of three trails that can be linked together; there are escape routes at all the technical sections.

Terrain: Steep rocky ascents and descents, mud and river crossings.

This is a self-drive rote; no guiding is needed. The trail is suitable for year-round driving; wet weather will definitely increase the grading and some of the water crossings can get very deep. A full range of self-catering accommodation and camping options is available. There are three 4x4 trails at Serendipity. Birdwatching, hiking, trail running and mountain biking as well as swimming in the rock pools and river. Quads and motorbikes welcome.

About

Serendipity Eco Trails is situated on Tierkloof, a private game farm of over 2 000 hectares of mountainous bushveld with a variety of game. It’s only 140km north of Pretoria. The trails at Serendipity stretch over an unusual combination of valleys, gorges and savannah and cross over countless mountain streams. Rock pools with crystal clear water, indigenous forest, waterfalls, and panoramic views of the Waterberg await you. A large variety of trees, and abundant bird life and game can be seen while on the trails.

The main trail, which is the longest, is less technical than the two shorter trails. It still presents some challenging driving across mountains and through streams, however. Many rock pools along the way will have you stopping for a quick swim in-between some steep rocky ascents. There is a tricky zigzag down the river that can be quite challenging in the rainy season. It stays an enjoyable drive with awesome scenery even when dry and the mud-tyre tribe will still have the opportunity to play like kids at the dam.

The shorter technical trails present a few hairy obstacles and will surely get your adrenalin pumping. If your ground clearance is lower than 220mm it's a good idea to remove the running boards and tow bars before setting off onto the rocky terrain and riverbeds. You will encounter steep ascents and shale-covered descents. Depending on the time of year, you might drive through bonnet-high water and the steep muddy and rocky climbs out of the rocky riverbed will keep you on your toes. There are some tight corners and in some places you will need good approach and departure angles.

The list of self-catering accommodation options and camping sites is long and covers all tastes. The secluded tree houses, bush camps, chalets and a luxury lodge are all fully equipped. Serendipity can also prepare meals if ordered in advance. The campsites have at least one electrical point, flush toilets and hot showers. Serendipity is perfect for getting away and into nature. A 12km hiking trail and a dedicated mountain biking trail of 20-60km are available. Quad bikes are welcome and two-wheelers will enjoy the excellent Enduro Trail.

Follow the N1 to Polokwane and take the Modimolle off ramp at the Kranskop tollgate. In Modimolle turn right into Thabo Mbeki road and continue for 16km before turning left onto the Mookgopong road (R101). Look for the Serendipity gate on the left after 8km.

Waterberg

Limpopo

About

Rugged mountains, rolling bush and abundant wildlife characterise this area. The Waterberg is one of Limpopo’s most popular eco-tourism regions. Over the past decade it has come to rival Mpumalanga’s legendary Lowveld, with the added plus of being malaria-free.

The Waterberg offers a range of wildlife and safari experiences. These vary from Big 5 private reserves and game lodges to remote wilderness hideaways and self-catering bush camps. There are also national and provincial reserves.

The region is named after the Waterberg mountain range - ‘water mountains’ in Afrikaans - that stretches west to east for about 150km from Thabazimbi to the Mokopane. The mountains form the shoulder of the Palala Plateau – the bushveld of which rolls westwards all the way to Botswana.

True to their name, the Waterberg mountains include many rivers, streams, swamps and wetlands. The Limpopo River forms the western boundary of the region and the Mogalakwena River the eastern. The Waterberg has vast tracts of bushveld savannah punctuated with clusters of trees and tall savannah shrubs. The Springbok Flats are to the south. 

The Waterberg is more than three million years old – and there are numerous archaeological finds and San paintings that give us glimpses of its past.

Mining has long been essential to the Waterberg’s economy. An Iron Age mineshaft found in the Waterberg was carbon dated to 1 500 AD. Five hundred years later, mining is still taking place. The Waterberg is one of the richest mineral deposits in the world. It’s part of the Bushveld Igneous Complex - a unique geological complex of volcanic rocks formed some 600 million years ago. The complex extends over 50 000km² and is rich in platinum, iron ore, vanadium, tin, tungsten, chromium and coal.

The Waterberg region includes the towns of Bela-Bela, Modimolle, Mabatlane, Lephalale, Mookgophong and Thabazimbi. The largest town is Bela-Bela, a lively centre for surrounding farms and game reserves, and famed for its hot springs. The name Bela-Bela means ‘water that boils’ in Tswana.

The towns of Modimolle and Mookgophong are steeped in interesting Iron Age, Nguni and Voortrekker history. The quaint village of Matlabane is a meet-and-greet spot for many travellers to the area, and Lephalale is the centre for the region’s thriving hunting industry.

The heart of the Waterberg is the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, a 400 000ha protected wilderness area offering a mix of nature, culture and heritage. It was declared by UNESCO in 2001 on the basis of its mountainous habitat, magnificent red sandstone cliffs and evidence of human occupation dating back thousands of years. It was first inhabited by the San people, who left their legacy in the form of rock art and cave paintings.

The only savannah reserve of its kind in southern Africa, the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve includes private and provincial game reserves. It also has areas of cultural and archaeological significance. The region has a strong conservation ethos, and eco-tourism and sustainable practices underpin many lodges and reserves here.

The Waterberg offers an exciting mix of wildlife and wilderness experiences – from traditional game lodges to tailor-made adventures. You can go hiking, camping, 4x4 off-roading, horseback riding and birding. The Waterberg is famed for two significant birding sites. The Nylsvley Wetlands is home to over 400 species of waterbirds. The Marakele National Park is home to the largest Cape vulture colony in the world. The area also has conservation training programmes, wildlife rehabilitation centres and educational school camps.

Look out for

Marakele National Park - The name Marakele is Tswana for ‘place of sanctuary’ and this wild and remote reserve is just that. Marakele has craggy hills and deep wooded kloofs, with rare cycads, tree ferns and yellowwood trees. This is an unspoilt part of the Waterberg, home to all the large game species from rhino to elephant and the big cats. It is also home to the world’s biggest Cape vulture population – over 800 breeding pairs.

Nylsvley - The Nylsvley Conservancy is a favourite destination among South Africa’s birding community. It is part of the country’s largest flood plain. Stretching over 70km from Modimolle to Mokopane, Nylsvley is a world-renowned RAMSAR site. In the rainy summer months the grasslands of Nylsvley are transformed into lake that stretches for kilometres. It virtually becomes an international bird airport. The Waterberg Nylsvley Birding Route covers Nylsvley, the Waterberg mountains and Marakele National Park.

The Waterberg Meander - The Waterberg Meander is a self-drive route through the heart of the region that takes you to a series of interesting sites, community projects and tourist attractions. Visit local arts & crafts projects, explore the ancient hill of Melora, meet the Waterberg Red Beds, an unusual geological formation, check out the glorious mountain peaks known as the Seven Sister of the Waterberg, or visit a monument dedicated to explorer David Livingstone.

Bela-Bela’s hot springs - Long known for their healing properties, the hot mineral springs at Bela-Bela bubble out of the ground at about 2 200 litres per hour, at a temperature of around 53ºC. The water is rich in sodium chloride, calcium carbonate and other salts with natural healing properties. The Bela-Bela Aventura Resort is a popular spot for its water world activities. There are many health and pampering opportunities in and around Bela-Bela.

The annual Big Five Marathon - The 42km-long Big Five Marathon is known as the wildest of them all – they say it’s tougher than South Africa’s famous 88km-long Comrades Marathon. Held at Entabeni Game Reserve in the Waterberg mountains, this annual marathon attracts thousands of runners from around the world. Out here there are ravines and gorges, rivers and lakes, and stretches of unspoiled bushveld. There are no fences; just wide open spaces and a tough challenge for marathon runners.

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