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Special Interests

Walks & Hikes
Mountain Biking
4x4 Adventures
Bird Watching


Webmaster's Note

All these sites are privately owned and it is largely due to minimal human activity that they still exist in the first place.

Most landowners will be cautious - even down-right uncooperative - to allow tourist trooping through these sites.

If you do manage to obtain permission to visit some of these site, consider yourself fortunate and please adhere to any conditions that the landlords may impose.


Natural Heritage Sites
in the Sabie area


More than 20 registered Natural Heritage Sites occur within less than an hour's drive from Sabie - some of which are featured on this page.

The South African Natural Heritage Programme (SANHP) is a voluntary programme and participation is at the sole discretion of the land owner.

The qualification criteria for registration include stands of special plant communities, good examples of aquatic habitats, sensitive catchment areas, habitats of threatened or endangered species, as well as outstanding natural features.

Mondi Cycad Reserve
In-De-Diepte Reserve
Mount Sheba Nature Reserve
Buffelskloof Nature Reserve
Misty Mountain
Mondi Indigenous Forest Reserve
Mondi Tree Fern Reserve
London Nature Reserve
Sudwala Rain Forest
Paradise Camp
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

Mondi Cycad Reserve (SANHP Site # 11)
This 1 ha site in the Pilgrims Rest area with North-Eastern Mountain Sourveld (Acocks Veld Type 8) vegetation includes an undisturbed stand of  358 Encephalartos humilis plants.

In-De-Diepte Reserve (SANHP Site # 13)
The vegetation of this 943 ha site in the Pilgrims Rest area consists mainly of North-Eastern Mountain Sourveld (Acocks Veld Type 8). This veld type is rapidly diminishing in size due to afforestation.  The grassveld is the refuge of a number of small game species such as the oribi (Ourebia ourebia), grey rhebuck (Pelea capreolus) and red duiker (Cephalophus natalensis).  Bird species include the extremely rare redwing and greywing partridges (Francolinus levailantii and F. africanus).  This is one of the few areas where the vulnerable fish species Treur River barb (Barbus treurensis) occurs.
Contact: Global Forest Products on (013) 764-1011

Mount Sheba Nature Reserve (SANHP Site # 15)
Acocks Veld Type 8 (North-Eastern Mountain Sourveld) occurs on this 1 110 ha reserve in the Pilgrims Rest area.  The following species are some of the rare plants recorded on Mount Sheba: Clivia caulescens, Gladiolus varius and Disa extinctoria.  The rich indigenous forests host mammal species such as oribi (Ourebia ourebia), klipspringer (Oreotragus oretragus) and African wild cat (Felis lybica).  Gold diggings and wagon trails date back to the beginning of the century.
Mount Sheba Nature Reserve on (013) 768-1125

Buffelskloof Private Nature Reserve (SANHP Site # 26)
The main feature of this 1 458 ha site in the Lydenburg area is the indigenous forest which is said to be the largest single privately owned forest in the old Transvaal Province.  It covers some 700 ha and consists of Transvaal Drakensberg Escarpment Forest of both the upper and the lower montane types; 209 different tree species, some of them rare, have been identified and specimens are housed in the Reserve's herbarium.

The forest provides habitat for many bird species such as the crowned eagle (Stephanoaetus coronatus), narina trogon (Apaloderma scriptus), Knysna loerie (Tauaco corythaix) and trumpeter hornbill (Bycanistes bucinator).  Mammals include the bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) and the rare red duiker (Cephalopus natalensis).  On the grassy uplands (Acocks Veld Type No. 8) above the Kloof mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula) and small numbers of the vulnerable oribi (Ourebia ourebia) can be found with klipspringer (Oreotragus oreotragus) on the krantzes. Serval (Felis serval) and aardvark (Orycteropus afer) also occur but are rarely seen.  Small numbers of the vulnerable cycad species Encephalartos humilis are present.

Misty Mountain (SANHP Site # 48)
This 293 ha site on the Long Tom Pass between Sabie and Lydenburg is one of the last remnant areas of undisturbed North-Eastern Sourveld (Acocks Veld Type 8). Three rare plant species Kiphofia triangularis, Watsonia transvaalensis and Gladiolus varius var. micranthus have been recorded on the site.  Two of the five bird species listed as endangered occur on the site, namely the blackrumped buttonquail (Turnix hottentotta) and the blue swallow (Hirundo atracaerulea), the latter breeding here.
Misty Mountain Chalets on (013) 764-3377

Mondi Indigenous Forest Reserve (SANHP Site # 50)
This 52 ha reserve in the Pilgrims Rest area of largely undisturbed forest (Acocks Veld Type 8) protects large specimens of yellowwood (Podocarpus sp.) and red stinkwood (Prunus africana).  Rare vertebrates include Natal ghost frog (Heleophryne natalensis), red duiker (Cephalophus natalensis) and narina trogon (Apaloderma nerina).  The area is well watered, and as a result there are numerous streams, waterfalls, and drip-maintained rockface communities.

Mondi Tree Fern Reserve (SANHP Site # 51)
In this 3,3 ha reserve in the Pilgrims Rest area there are 1 226 tree ferns (Cyathea dregi) ranging from 1 m to 5 m high.  This could well be the greatest concentration of the species in the world.

Mbesan (SANHP Site # 93)
The vegetation on this 210 ha site in the Lydenburg area consists of North Eastern Sourveld (Acocks Veld Type 8) and Lowveld Sour Bushveld (Acocks Veld Type 9).  Communities of the threatened cycad Encephalartos humilis are found here.  The area is a good example of an unspoilt aquatic habitat with the unpolluted water of the Crocodile River providing habitat for the Cape clawless otter (Aonyx capensis).  Steep cliffs leading to a plateau covered with grassveld form a sensitive catchment area.  This relatively undeveloped area offers an abundance of fauna, bird and fish species which include the rare red duiker (Cephalophus natalensis) and leopard (Panthera pardus).

Waterval (SANHP Site # 96)
The vegetation on this 200 ha site in the Lydenburg area is classified as North Eastern Sandy Highveld (Acocks Veld Type 57) and Lowveld Sour Bushveld (Acocks Veld Type 9). Tree ferns and yellowwood grow in the kloof areas.  The rare Gladiolus cataractarum is protected on this site which forms part of the catchment of the Crocodile River.  Land monitor (Varanus exanthematicus), water monitor (Varanus niloticus), aardvark (Orycteropus afer) and oribi (Ourebia ourebia) are vulnerable fauna that occur here.  Rare species include leopard (Panthera pardus) and serval (Felis serval).  The rare bird species peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus) also nests here.  A waterfall, approximately 20 m high, forms an outstanding natural feature on this site.
Flinner Properties on (013) 235-4264

London Nature Reserve (SANHP Site # 132)
The vegetation of this 948 ha reserve north of Graskop consists of North-Eastern Mountain Sourveld (Acocks Veld Type 8), with pockets of indigenous forests.  A well-developed wetland system is found along parts of the Treur River and parts of the catchment area of the Treur and Blyde Rivers.  Rock ash (Ekebergia pterophylla) and silver sugarbush (Protea roupelliae) are some of the tree and shrub species.  The vulnerable fish species Treur River barb (Barbus treurensis) and the endangered blue swallow (Hirundo atracaerulea) are also found on this site.  Outstanding natural features are the cliffs enclosing the valley and the cascades and pools of the Treur River.

Sudwala Rain Forest (SANHP Site # 167)
Acocks Veld Type 9 (Lowveld Sour Bushveld) occurs on this 300 ha site.  A natural rain forest of about 20 ha also occurs here.  A gorge with stinkwood trees (Ocotea bullata) is part of the rain forest.  The rare aloe, Aloe aloöides, is found here.  The Sudwala Caves occur on the site and shards have been found here.
Owen family on (013) 733-5267 or (013) 733-4155

Paradise Camp (SANHP Site # 196)
The veld type on this 57 ha site near Graskop is Acocks Veld Type 8  (North-Eastern Mountain Sourveld).  Red Data Book plants Erica rivularis (endangered) and the orchid Angraecum chamaeanthus as well as Streptocarpus pogonites (rare) and Polystachya transvaalensis occur on this site.  Red Data Book birds like the blue swallow (Hirundo atroccaerulea), striped flufftail (Sarothrura affinis) and Stanley's bustard (Neotis denhami) are also present.  Approximately 15 larger mammal species, some of which are listed in the South African Red Data Book, are sporadic visitors to the site.  The scenic beauty of the escarpment is an important feature of the area.
Ken Gamble on (013) 767-1118

Venus (SANHP Site # 216)
Acocks Veld Type 8 (North-Eastern Mountain Sourveld) and Veld Type 9 (Lowveld Sour Bushveld) are found on this 1 410 ha site on the Mac Mac River near Sabie.  Stands of special plant communities occur on the site.  An interesting feature is the occurrence of a combination of Afromantane forests and low lying riverine bush.  There are important water habitats, ranging from fast flowing streams over stones and rock plates to slow flowing wide streams over sandbeds. The indigenous forests and riverine bush provide habitat for a number of threatened fauna species.  Outstanding natural features such as waterfalls, rock pools and fern covered rocks occur on the terrain.

Malidyke (SANHP Site # 293)
This 248 ha site between Sabie and Graskop is essentially a rolling open primary grassland comprising of North Eastern Mountain Sourveld (Acocks Veld Type 8) which is known for its high level of endemism and floristic diversity.  The site forms part of the catchment of the MacMac River, which in turn feeds the Sabie River.  Malidyke is also known to be a breeding site for the highly endangered blue swallow (Hirundo atracaerulea).  Other bird species sited in the area includes lesser striped swallow (Hirundo abyssinica), helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris), hoopoe (Upupa africana) and long-crested eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis).
Komatiland (formerly Safcol) on (013) 764-1051

Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
Although not a registered SA
Natural Heritage Site, the world renown Blyde River Canyon deserves to be included here.  The reserve is located north of Graskop and covers an area of 22 664 ha, extending from the Pinnacle Rock in the south to beyond the Blyderivierspoort Dam in the north.

The Blyde River Canyon is the second largest canyon in the world and was formed by rivers cutting deep into the escarpment and eroding millions of tons of rock which were carried to the Lowveld and beyond to the Indian Ocean.  The reserve (administrated by the Mpumalanga Parks Board) is known primarily for it's outstanding natural beauty, as well as for the numerous endemic and endangered fauna and flora species that occur on the reserve.

Five of the 71 different veld types of South Africa occur on the reserve.  These include Mixed Bushveld, North Eastern Mountain Sourveld, Lowveld Sour Bushveld and Lowveld Mixed Bushveld.  The reserve represents a transitional zone for the flora of these five veld types, including their associated fauna, which migrate along the escarpment from as far south as the Southern Cape; plants from KwaZulu-Natal; sub-tropical plants from the Lowveld and plants from the central bushveld, which follow the Ohrigstad and Olifants River valleys into the canyon.  The rich and varied plant life is influenced by the specific climate, altitude and soil conditions.

These rich and diverse plant communities support, in turn, an equally rich and varied fauna.  The montane grassland provide suitable habitat for grey rhebuck (Pelea capreolus), the rare oribi (Ourebia ourebia), a variety of seed eating birds, rodents, reptiles and an abundance of insects.  Klipspringers (Oreotragus oretragus) and hyrax (dassies) (Procavia capensis) find food and shelter in rocky areas while mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula) and kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) prefer wooden bushveld where patches of dense cover also shelter the rare red duiker (Cephalophus natalensis).  Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) and bush-pig (Potamochoerus porcus) feed on the luxuriant growth on the banks of the rivers and streams.

A variety of aquatic animals including waterbirds, fish, otters, hippo and crocodile live in and around the dam, rivers, mountain streams and wetlands.  Birds of grassland, woodland, forest and scrub occur, with all three the indigenous loerie species present.  All five of South Africa's primates are found in the reserve, including the rare samango monkey. The nocturnal bushbabies (Galago crassicaudatus), as well as vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) and chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) are often seen.

An interesting variety of small mammals include the yellow footed squirrel, honey badger, aardvark, aardwolf, porcupine and various mongoose species.  On top of the food chain is the leopard, as well as smaller carnivores such as the spotted genet, civet cat, serval and caracal.


Webmaster's Note

And so we could go on, and on, and on ....... 
But no amount of describing can capture the tranquility of hearing a murmuring waterfall; feeling the rough bark of a silent forest giant; hearing the call of a fish eagle; smelling the goodness of a damp forest floor; seeing the vast expanse of creation or hearing the whisper of a butterfly's flight.

You experienced the Big-5
in the Kruger National Park.
Now experience the Precious-500
in the Sabie Area.


Recommended books about the fauna and flora of the area:

  • Transvaal Lowveld and Escarpment including the Kruger National Park. South African Wild Flower Guide 4. By Jo Onderstall.  ISBN 0 620 07749 2.

  • Wild About the Lowveld. All-in-one Guide to Common Animals and Plants of the Kruger National Park, Wildlife Reserves and Escarpment Foothills.  By Duncan Butchart.  ISBN 1 86812 596 3.


South African Natural Heritage Programme.  Annual Report 1999/2000. By Maritz Wahl, Karl Naudé and Christelle du Preez. Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism. ISBN 0-621-28683-4

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