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Boosmansbos Wilderness
18 Mar 2016
 
     

The name Boosmansbos is apparently linked to a hermit who lived in the forest in the early 19th century. The Wilderness Area lies in the Langeberg mountains, 22km northwest of Heidelberg, in the south-western Cape. It is 14,200ha in extent and is incorporated into Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve. Proclaimed a Wilderness Area in 1978, Boosmansbos is managed in order to maintain its natural systems and to safeguard its pristine environment. As part of the Cape Floral Kingdom, it was declared a World Heritage Site in 2004...

(GPS coordinates: -33.984132, 20.822632)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/boosmansbos-wilderness

St Lucia Estuary
17 Mar 2016
 
     

St Lucia Estuary is one of the tourism focal points of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park. The oldest of the park’s areas is the St Lucia Game Reserve, established in 1895. St Lucia Estuary is the gateway to the eastern shores of Lake St Lucia. The region contains the highest vegetated dunes in the world, extensive and diverse wetland systems, as well as coastal grasslands with Africa's highest density of common reedbuck. Numerous waterfowl, grassland, forest and sea birds draw birdwatchers from around the world. Tourist attractions include fishing, the Santa Lucia boat tour, the St Lucia Crocodile Centre, and a short self-guided trail through the coastal forest along the edge of the estuary...

(GPS coordinates: -28.383774, 32.418809)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/st-lucia-estuary

Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve
16 Mar 2016
 
     

The Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve lies between the towns of Ohrigstad and Lydenburg/Mashishing on the edge of the Greater Drakensberg escarpment. It's a 2 500ha reserve with wild grasslands and wide open skies, a large expanse of water and dramatic mountain views. It's an easy stop if you're travelling along Mpumalanga's Panorama Route, and makes for a good day visit. The Ohrigstad Dam Nature Reserve has become most popular for its fishing and birding adventures. Pack the fishing gear, the picnic stuff, your bird books and binoculars...

(GPS coordinates: -24.950528, 30.629786)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/ohrigstad-dam-nature-reserve

!Xariep Dam Nature Reserve
15 Mar 2016
 
     

!Xariep Dam Nature Reserve, the Free State’s largest nature reserve, is situated in the southern Free State and offers a perfect weekend getaway for outdoors enthusiasts. Visitors can enjoy fishing, watersports, game-viewing, hiking and horse-riding. There is a lot of private accommodation available in and around !Xariep Dam village, which makes this spot between Bloemfontein and Colesberg the perfect stop over between Johannesburg and Cape Town...

(GPS coordinates: -30.604379, 25.510211)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/xariep-dam-nature-reserve

African Skimmer
15 Mar 2016
 
     

An African Skimmer flies off into the sunset. In bright daylight these birds are quite handsome. Their dark back and wing feathers offset the pristine white of their bellies, and their red and yellow beaks are quite imposing. Seeing this bird is a rare treat regardless of its good looks, because they are only visible in small areas in the north-eastern parts of southern Africa. They are also quite wary of people and listed as ‘near-threatened’ with extinction. There is an estimated world population of only ten thousand African Skimmers.

Mapungubwe National Park
14 Mar 2016
 
     

Mapungubwe is the ideal location for anyone interested in the park's wildlife and birds, and for those in search of serenity, identity and the extraordinary history of this World Heritage Site. Share unforgettable moments sipping sundowners at the confluence of the legendary Limpopo and Shashe Rivers, watch the eagles soar over Botswana and Zimbabwe's skies, hear the echo of elephant trumpets, take a tree top walk or just relax and absorb the surroundings...

(GPS coordinates: -22.297038, 29.199944)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/mapungubwe-national-park

De Hoop Nature Reserve
13 Mar 2016
 
     

This 34,000ha reserve is situated east of Bredasdorp, roughly 260km from Cape Town, in the Overberg region. It is a favourite destination for hikers, cyclists, birdwatchers, and, during the winter and early summer months, whale watchers. De Hoop is important for the conservation of lowland fynbos because it has the largest conserved area for this rare vegetation type. De Hoop's terrestrial and marine habitats support a diversity of animal groups, including 86 mammal species. Marine mammals such as dolphins and seals occur in the waters off the coast and southern right whales calve and mate...

(GPS coordinates: -34.422487, 20.410366)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/de-hoop-nature-reserve

Bird Island Nature Reserve
12 Mar 2016
 
     

Bird Island lies about 100m off-shore of Lambert's Bay on the Cape west coast. The island, almost 3ha in size, is connected to the mainland via a breakwater. Bird Island is one of only six sites world-wide where Cape gannets breed, and is also the only breeding site easily accessible to the public. Visitors can further enjoy and explore the new visitor's centre with a coffee shop, curio shop, aquarium, auditorium, penguin pool, and a guano museum, which details the search for ‘white gold’ and even has a replica of a guano scraper's bunks...

(GPS coordinates: -32.090194, 18.302469)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/bird-island-nature-reserve

Hippopotamus
12 Mar 2016
 
     

The name hippopotamus comes from the Greek words “river horse”. When searching for names for this unusual-looking creature, people often referred to animals they knew well, for example the Dutch name Nijlpaard (Nile horse), and the Afrikaans name seekoei (sea cow). In fact, the hippo’s closest living relatives are whales and porpoises. Hippos have been known to roam quite a long distance from their birthplace - Hubert/Huberta the hippo’s 1600km journey in the late 1920s is the most famous example of this. However, they are semi-aquatic and must stay close to rivers and lakes to breed and avoid sunburn and dehydration.

Silaka Nature Reserve
11 Mar 2016
 
     

Silaka lies in a forested valley only 6km south of the laid-back town of Port St Johns. This small but beautiful coastal reserve stretches from Second Beach to Sugarloaf Rock, covering approximately 400ha, offering the tourist accommodation in a beautiful natural setting. The reserve’s name is derived from the Silaka River which flows through it and forms an estuary at the charming main beach. This small but exquisite reserve caters for lovers of tidal pools and otters, as well as offering exceptional birdwatching...

(GPS coordinates: -31.64941, 29.510912)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/silaka-nature-reserve

Bronkhorstspruit Dam Nature Reserve
10 Mar 2016
 
     

This nature reserve, just a 40 minute drive from Pretoria, is popular with outdoor enthusiasts looking to swap the hustle and bustle of the city for the fresh air and quiet of the highveld. The dam, a focal point in the reserve, is a haven for waterfowl and the grasslands that surround it attract a number of interesting endemic bird species. Although water levels in the dam can vary from season to season there are a number of water-based activities to enjoy all year round, including angling, boating and water skiing...

(GPS coordinates: -25.933656, 28.686161)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/bronkhorstspruit-dam-nature-reserve

Phongolo Nature Reserve
9 Mar 2016
 
     

Falling from the heights of the Lebombo Mountains down across the Phongolopoort Dam to typical African savannah in the west, this reserve is the oldest proclaimed conservation area in Africa. It was proclaimed on the 13th of June 1894 by President Paul Kruger and re-proclaimed in 1903, ostensibly to protect declining game numbers, but in reality as a strategy for the old Transvaal Republic to gain access to the sea. The area boasts a bird list of over 300 species and a range of plains game. The dam has large populations of hippos and crocodiles and fish species that include tiger fish - the focus of a number of fishing competitions through the year...

(GPS coordinates: -27.345239, 31.884041)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/phongolo-nature-reserve

Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
8 Mar 2016
 
     

The 9,800 ha Jonkershoek Nature Reserve includes the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve and lies approximately 9 km from the town of Stellenbosch in the south-western Cape. The reserve encompasses the imposing Jonkershoek Mountains - part of the larger Boland mountain range - and portions of the upper Jonkershoek valley. Jonkershoek functions as a mountain catchment area, providing water for Stellenbosch and surrounds. Its rugged terrain is ideal for hiking, while Assegaaibosch is smaller and suitable for shorter walks and picnics...

(GPS coordinates: -33.97383, 18.942318)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/jonkershoek-nature-reserve

Jackal
8 Mar 2016
 
     

The level stare of this black-backed jackal gives us an inkling as to why Anubis, the ancient Egyptian god of the dead, has a jackal’s head. These silent, sure-footed canids are somewhat eerie. Their yelping cries have been the sound of nightfall in Africa for 800, 000 years. Jackals may venture close to people to scavenge under the cover of darkness, but it is rare to see one standing still like this during the day. They are wary of humans and are more often seen trotting away from us.

Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve
7 Mar 2016
 
     

In the heart of the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands lies a valley created by the Umgeni River. After cascading over the majestic Howick Falls, the river runs through a spectacular gorge. The gorge is fringed by a rolling plateau with an average altitude of about 1 000 metres, which falls away abruptly into the valley. The reserve is home to giraffe, zebra and a variety of antelope. There is an indigenous-tree trail and visitors can enjoy six walking trails through varied terrain, where they can view game on foot, as well as more than 270 bird species, including the narina trogon and crowned eagle...

(GPS coordinates: -29.474433, 30.238119)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/umgeni-valley-nature-reserve

Franklin Game Reserve
6 Mar 2016
 
     

The Franklin Game Reserve is a unique 250-hectare wildlife reserve in the heart of Bloemfontein. Home to animals such as giraffe, zebra and springbok, it is one of only two city-based wildlife reserves in the world - the other one being in the Asian metropolis of Hong Kong. While game-watching in the Franklin Game Reserve is popular, it is also an excellent place to get familiar with the indigenous plants and trees of the area. For avid bird-watchers, there is also always something interesting to find, with specials such as Karoo scrub-robin, fairy flycatcher and African red-eyed bulbul being relatively common...

(GPS coordinates: -29.099977, 26.234107)

Read more at www.nightjartravel.com/parks/franklin-game-reserve

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