Polokwane Game Reserve
Polokwane Game Reserve is one of the most notable municipal reserves in the country. Unusually large, it protects a comparatively rare vegetation type and is home to some fairly finicky eaters like sable antelope. It’s a lovely wildlife experience, not far from Johannesburg, and you can explore it on horseback.
A handy three hours' drive from Johannesburg, Polokwane Game Reserve guarantees a high-quality, low-cost wildlife experience where you can see plenty of game, forests of aloes and unusual birds.
In fact, Polokwane Game Reserve is something of an open secret among the birding fraternity. This is probably the easiest place to spot South African specials like the short-clawed lark as well as the Kalahari scrub-robin, ashy tit, zitting cisticola and burnt-neck eremomela. You might also see the unreasonably beautiful violet-backed starling.
Most of the rich grasslands around the city of Polokwane in Limpopo have been converted to agriculture. This reserve is one of the last places you’ll find particular kinds of vegetation like the fertile Pietersberg Plateau False Grassland habitat.
That’s because the fertile soils it grows on have mostly been snapped up by surrounding agriculture. But the nutritious grasses support some very rare species, like sable and tsessebe antelope. You could also see less finicky creatures like the white rhino. There are also giraffe, zebra, impala and more than a dozen more mammal species.
Polokwane Game Reserve is 3 200 hectares in size and is one of the largest municipal reserves in the country. It has an excellent network of roads, so you can easily drive yourself around for game viewing. If you prefer your wildlife experiences on foot, there’s a 21km long hiking route. If you’re really energetic, you can do it in a day, but there are overnight facilities too.
There’s also a less strenuous 5km trail, perfect for a morning’s ramble, or you can book a morning or evening game drive.
But if you’re up for something more exotic, you can do some horse-riding through the reserve with a local operator. And not just any an amble through the bush either. Apart from morning rides, lunchtime rides (including a sumptuous spread) or sunset rides with sundowner snacks, you could also opt to ride by full moon through the bush – an experience you will never forget.