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Warm fires, stunning sunsets, midday walks, runs or rides through the Bushveld. What’s not to love about a winter escape to the Waterberg? Summerplace Game Reserve is perfectly geared for winter breaks with a range of accommodation that includes cosy indoor fireplaces, outdoor braai bomas and wood-fired hot tubs.

Swap the smog that settles over the Highveld cities in winter for crisp countryside air that’s rich in Bushveld aromas. Experience night skies that enable stargazing from the comfort of your private hot tub. Sip sundowners from a viewpoint after a late afternoon game drive. Leave the urban noise behind and listen to the sounds of the Waterberg wilderness.

Just over two hours’ drive north from Pretoria, Summerplace Game Reserve offers a wondrous winter escape. There’s a range of accommodation to suit every budget. From camping, to glamping, to small country units to luxury villas, Summerplace Game Reserve makes it possible for anyone to afford a winter escape in the Waterberg.

There are over 40 species of large mammals at Summerplace Game Reserve, including Zebra, Giraffe, Warthog, Brown Hyena and Black-backed Jackal. There’s also a wide range of antelope including Eland, Roan Antelope, Kudu, Sable Antelope, Waterbuck, Tsessebe, Common Reedbuck, Mountain Reedbuck and more. And there’s the smaller mammals such as Aardvark, Aardwolf, Pangolin, Civet, Badger, Serval and others.

The dry winter months, with less dense vegetation, makes for more successful game-viewing. Summerplace Game Reserve is one of the few game reserves in South Africa where you can enjoy wildlife encounters while riding a mountain bike, running or walking on our broad network of purpose-built trails. If you don’t own a mountain bike, you can hire a regular mountain bike, a kids mountain bike or an eBike (electric-assist) from our fleet of Specialized rental bikes.

Our relaxed game drives are also a great way to enjoy wildlife encounters. Our knowledgeable guides are able to offer useful information on the animals you see from the comfort of our game drive vehicle.

Summerplace Game Reserve is also home to a wide range of trees and bird species. There are at least 130 different types of trees and at least 107 bird species, including several raptors, making it an ideal destination for dendrophiles and birders. Summerplace Game Reserve is also where you will find the tallest Aloe in South Africa.

A Bushveld break at Summerplace Game Reserve can be ideal for couples or families. Ideal lodges for couples include, Hideaway (10 ultra-luxury glamping tents, launching late July 2024), as well as New Wine, The Shed 2 and Saringa lodges. Family-friendly accommodation includes camping, Rosemary Cottage, Marula Cottage, Bushwillow, The Shed 1 and 3, Yorks View, Summerhill and Summerview lodges.

Most of our accommodation is self-catering but we also offer meals twice a day at our Bike Village restaurant with brunch/lunch and dinner. The Bike Village, which has plenty of comfortable seating inside and on the veranda, also has a fully stocked bar and coffee station, a big-screen TV and free, uncapped WiFi. There’s also a shop where you can buy Summerplace-branded apparel and mementos as well other useful items.

Whether it’s during the school holidays, a quick mid-week break or a lazy, long-weekend escape, a winter break in the Waterberg is best enjoyed at Summerplace Game Reserve.

To book your winter escape, see the range of Summerplace Game Reserve accommodation here.


The Aloe marlothii is the primary image on the Summerplace Game Reserve logo. That’s because our reserve is home to an abundance of Aloe marlothii (Mountain Aloe). We also have several large marlothii forests and, what we now know is officially the tallest Aloe in South Africa.

The giant Aloe at Summerplace Game Reserve was recently measured and is officially confirmed as the tallest Aloe marlothii in South Africa. Measuring 9.80 metres, the Giant Aloe can be distinctly seen on the ridgeline from a couple of kilometres away and is even more impressive up close.

“The marlothii growth at Summerplace really is quite something. Summerplace has a terrific population of marlothii with large concentrations in some places, such as along the southern boundary,” said Warwick Tarboton, author of multiple bird books and Wildflowers of the Waterberg. He is also a Waterberg Biosphere expert and co-edits the website,, a valuable resource for the region.

South Africa’s tallest Aloe marlothii is at Summerplace Game Reserve. Photo: Josh Baber

Tarboton assisted the South African Dendrological Society to measure the height of the Giant Aloe at Summerplace Game Reserve.

“We have long poles with a mirror to be able to examine eagle’s nests. We used those poles to measure the height of the Aloe marlothii. When I first saw the Aloe, it was flowering, so it was taller. But when we measured it in mid-May 2024, the flower head was on the ground. It’s another metre long, so when flowering (usually between May and September), it is even taller, at around 10.80 metres, which is unusually tall” explained Tarboton.

According to the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), ‘Aloe marlothii is a large, perennial, succulent, single-stemmed aloe, usually 2-4 m tall (occasionally up to 6 metres), with old dried leaves remaining on the stem below the upper living leaves. Leaves are large, broad and succulent, light green to greyish green to blue-green, up to 1500mm x 250mm, having a broad base tapering to a sharp point, covered with spines on upper and lower surfaces and maroon-coloured teeth with orange tips along leaf margins’.

Compared to most mature Aloe marlothii in the area, the Giant Aloe is immense. Photo: Josh Baber

Aloe Marlothii is found mainly in bushveld vegetation along mountainous areas, rocky terrain and slopes where temperatures are warmer and frost infrequent. Mountain ranges of the Drakensburg, Lebombo, Zoutpansberg and Waterberg have large populations of the species.

“The generally accepted definition of a tree is a plant with a woody stem two metres or more in height. Aloe marlothii is essentially a plant until it’s taller, then it classifies as a tree,” explained Tarboton.

In addition to the height of the enormous Aloe Marlothii, the Dendrological Society measurement includes stem girth (0.93m), stem diameter (0.30m), average crown diameter (1.50m) and crown spread (1.80m-squared). All of these combine for a size index of 6.53.

It is noted via one theory that the clustering of Aloe marlothii on the Polokwane Plateau is could be associated with African Iron Age archaeological sites of Ndebele village ruins. Ndebele occupied the area from 1650 to 1880. It is believed the seeds were brought to the Ndebele villages from plant material they used for a variety of uses such as scraping hides to prepare women’s dresses, using ash from dried leaves for an additive to snuff, eating nectar from the flowers, leaf extractions to treat roundworm and tapeworm and fresh leaf sap used on women’s breasts to wean babies.

The Ndebele left the region around 1885 and large thickets of Aloe marlothii continued to flourish in the area. Although no ruins are obvious, this may explain the unusually large marlothii forest at the southern border of Summerplace Game Reserve. It also indicates that some of the larger Aloe marlothii  trees may be in excess of 130 years old.

The protection offered by the surrounding trees and mineral-rich ground are likely reasons for the Giant Aloe’s success. Photo: Josh Baber

The Aloe marlothii Forest, which  sits at one of the lowest points of the reserve, is a key feature on the reserve. A mountain bike trail ­– fittingly name Aloe – winds its way through the forest, which is also a favourite location for wedding and special occasions photographs.

After co-authoring the book, Wildflowers of the Waterberg, Tarboton is currently working on a new book that focusses on trees of the Waterberg. He believes the reason for the unusually high Aloe marlothii on the northern ridge is two-fold.

“That side of the reserve is underlain by dolerite, and the soils from these rocks have more nutrients than the soils from sandstones which make up most of the Waterberg. Coupled with this is that this marlothii is growing on a large old termitarium (termite mound) which provides even more plant nutrients’ explained Tarboton.

“The other reason it may have been able to grow so tall is that it is surrounded by a clump of other trees, which both protect it from the elements and add nutrients into the soil,” he added.

The Giant Aloe can be seen on the Grey Mountain Bike Route, shortly after the start of the appropriately named Marlothii Trail.

The Giant Aloe at Summerplace Game Reserve is visible from a long distance away. Photo: Josh Baber

To see the Giant Aloe for yourself, book a stay at Summerplace Game Reserve. Here are the accommodation options.


The South African Gravity Racing community will descend on Summerplace Game Reserve in June 2024 where the Summerplace Gravity Festival will see Enduro and Downhill SA Cup events consecutively hosted on the slopes of the beautiful Waterberg.

Running from Friday 14 until Monday 17 June, the Summerplace Gravity Festival will be held over the long weekend – Sunday 16 June is Youth Day, making Monday 17 June a public holiday.

The Enduro will include six stages ­­– five that were used at the SA Cup event in 2023 and one brand new stage.

Photo: Dominic Barnardt

“The feedback on the 2023 event was so positive, so we are going to use five of those stages again this year. We will use Tumbleweed, Load Shredder, and Red Mountain as we did last year. Skyfall will feature again, but not the top section as that will form part of the new Downhill course this year,” explained David Baber, Summerplace co-owner and trailbuilder.

“We will use Summerflow again too as the final stage and have added a brand-new stage called Green Moss, which is around three minutes in duration for the fast racers and which has a nice range of natural features, including rock gardens and a drop-off near the end. Obviously, there will be B Lines where necessary,” added Baber.

The Lite Enduro will use Red Mountain, Green Moss and Summerflow as its three stages.

Photo: Dominic Barnardt

The new Downhill course uses the top part of Skyfall and is then all new from there.

“Downhill racers can expect a very natural course with limited man-made features. It’s about 1.7km long with a drop of around 200 metres. I expect the top racers to do around 2 minutes 45 seconds or so. We have opened it up quite a lot in places, especially over rocks and ridges to give riders a range of line choices,” explained Baber.

The Summerplace Gravity Festival has been designed to accommodate racers that want to compete in both the Enduro and the Downhill events. The Enduro race day will be Saturday 15 June, offering the days leading up as practice days. The Downhill race day will be on Monday 17 June (a public holiday), allowing for practice and qualifying on Sunday 16 June.

Photo: Dominic Barnardt

Cycling South Africa has scheduled Summerplace Gravel Festival to coincide with government mid-year school holidays, which start on Monday, 17 June and run until Monday 8 July, making it easier for families to schedule a trip for the two events.

Summerplace Game Reserve is one of South Africa’s premier mountain biking destinations. There is more than 120km of marked and maintained mountain bike trails on the 3500-hectare game reserve. Summerplace offers trails for all levels of mountain biker, from enthusiastic newcomers to seasoned veterans. A large volume of the trails are hand-build singletrack, designed to be challenging and rewarding. There are more than 40 species of large mammals at Summerplace and wildlife encounters while mountain biking are common.

Summerplace Game Reserve offers a range of high-quality accommodation with various lodges as well as a campsite. To see the range of accommodation for the Summerplace Gravity Festival, click here.


In a world where technology is increasingly dominant, corporate breakaways are more important than ever in creating opportunities away from the office for staff to build bonds, share energy, create ideas and align with company objectives. Summerplace is an ideal corporate breakaway destination. Here’s why…

If you own a small business, or run a division of a large company, then you will know the value of communication. Communication has become highly digital in this modern world, which is great for efficiency, but the human connection undoubtedly suffers. The best way to maintain or build that human connection within your company is to give your staff the opportunity to speak directly to each other – somewhere relaxing and away from distractions.

Less than a three-hour drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria, Summerplace Game Reserve is a modern game reserve that’s geared to host corporate breakaways that are meaningful and effective. Summerplace is big enough to ensure your staff enjoy a feeling of escape and freedom, but small enough to customise your company breakaway to suit your objectives.

Recently, a HR and payroll solutions company, DNA Outsourcing (Pty) Ltd, held a company breakaway at Summerplace. We asked Wilna van Heerden some questions about their experience.

Where did you hear about Summerplace as an option for a business conference?

My husband and I spent some time at Summerplace with another couple for a weekend. We fell in love with the five-star accommodation.  The men are avid mountain bikers and my friend and I loved hiking in the Bushveld. As owners of DNA Outsourcing, we decided to arrange our company kick-off party at Summerplace.

Was the booking and set-up process like straightforward?

I dealt directly with Simone Baber, the Managing Director, who assisted me in choosing the best options for accommodation.  We selected the full board option for the three-day, two-nights breakaway.

What were your main requirements for your conference?

We needed a place where our staff could relax and be spoiled by us as a company.  We needed comfortable upmarket accommodation, good food, and a place where we could relax and play a few games.  We also wanted an option where we could bring our own drinks when we relaxed at the lodges.  Summerplace offered all the above and more.

Do you feel that your conference at Summerplace was a success?

Yes, our conference was very successful. Simone and her team went out of their way to make this a special event. They immediately made us feel at home. Simone even assisted me with transporting our bus driver, who didn’t feel comfortable driving back on her own, to her accommodation.

What did Summerplace offer that was highly valued?

Summerplace feels like a five-star lodge and at the same time it feels like home. The accommodation is out of this world.  Beautiful interiors, fantastic views, and the option of relaxing in your own private hot tub, was the cherry on the cake.  Our staff felt appreciated, and we all fell in love with Summerplace.

Did your staff do some of the Summerplace activities?

Yes, we were treated with a hike to the top of the hill where we were served sundowners and snacks.  It was well worth the short walk that gave you such a good experience in the bush. The view from the top was out of this world.  Josh from Summerplace used his drone to take beautiful live footage of our group.

What was the Summerplace accommodation like?

As mentioned above, it’s five-star luxury accommodation.  We loved everything about our accommodation.

What was the standard of Summerplace catering like?

Catering at Summerplace is home cooked modern meals.  Lunches were served with fresh bread and salads.  Dinner was hearty and we felt right at home. Breakfast was a spread that could last you for the whole day – not forgetting the delicious cappuccinos.  They also offer drinks and wine at the bar.

Were there any wildlife encounters during your stay at Summerplace?

Yes, we saw quite a bit of wildlife while hiking and driving on the reserve.  This included Sable Antelope, Warthog, Giraffe and more.

Would you return to Summerplace for another business conference?

Yes, this was one of our most successful business breakaways.

Would you recommend Summerplace as a business conference venue to other companies?

Yes, I would highly recommend Summerplace for any business conference or private breakaway.  Cannot wait to visit again!

To find out more about booking your company breakaway at Summerplace, email


While school holidays are great for kids, they can be a real challenge for parents. You want your kids to have an enjoyable, wholesome experience during their mid-year break, but you’re not exactly able to take much time off work. Summerplace Game Reserve offers a school-holiday solution!

Less than a three-hour drive from Johannesburg and shorter from Pretoria, a couple of nights at Summerplace Game Reserve may only require taking a Friday afternoon off work to create an experience that is meaningful and memorable, for your kids and for you.

Our high-quality self-catering accommodation makes it relatively cost effective too. You have to eat every day anyway, right? Why not prepare your family’s food on a gas stove or over a fire and enjoy it in the quiet of the beautiful Bushveld?

Here are a few more reasons it makes sense to book a Summerplace Game Reserve visit during the school holidays:

It’s safe

Summerplace Game Reserve has a secure boundary fence with access control as well as regular security patrols. The reserve itself is very safe for families and children.

There’s so much space

At 3500 hectares, there’s plenty of space for kids to roam and experience the feeling of freedom. No walls, fences, or gate remotes here!

Bicycles for the win

As a premiere mountain biking destination, we have built a world-class trails network. Several of the trails close to the accommodation are ideal for kids. The flowline between the Bike Village and the campsite if very popular with small kids, who can spend hours rolling down the gently sloping trails.

Bikes for hire

While most kids bring their own bikes, we do also have several kids bikes for hire. They’re high-quality models from Specialized that are very stable and easy to handle, with excellent braking power. We also have range of adult Specialized mountain bikes and eBikes for hire so you can do fun rides with your kids.

Exploring is fun

Safety and space make exploring the reserve a fun activity for kids. Whether on their bikes or on foot, they’ll find plenty of natural features to keep them engaged and connected to nature.


With more than 40 species of large mammals, including a wide range of Antelope, Zebra, Giraffe, Warthog and scores of bird species, a visit to Summerplace Game Reserve always delivers several memorable wildlife encounters. We also offer game drives which is a great experience for families.

Unlimited Wi-Fi

Although we’re far from any cities, we have unlimited Wi-Fi which is ideal if you need to keep on top of your work while visiting our reserve.

No load-shedding

With our own solar-power grid we are not affected by load-shedding, which most city visitors find refreshing! We also use gas-powered geysers and borehole water, making our reserve entirely self-sufficient and offering peace of mind for our guests.


While our lodges don’t have televisions, we do have a large-screen TV with DSTV at the Bike Village, so any important sports events can still be enjoyed during your visit to Summerplace Game Reserve.

Catered meals

Of course we know that a break from the city grind is even better if you don’t have to cook all meals! We have a chef that makes the most tasty, nourishing dishes which you can order in advance and either eat at the Bike Village or have delivered to your lodge.

Cooling off

Some of our lodges have private swimming pools but there’s also a swimming pool at the Bike Village for any guests to use. Even in winter we get some hot days and a dip in the pool is most welcome.

Drinks galore!

Our drinks bar serves great coffee in all its forms, most cooldrinks, popular beers and gin and a range of cocktails and wines to help you unwind on our comfortable couches or pool recliners.

We currently have some vacancies over the July school holidays so be sure to plan ahead and secure a short – or long – visit to Summerplace Game Reserve. They’ll remember that school holiday forever and you’ll return to the city feeling refreshed.

To see our range of accommodation that suits all budgets, click here.


Summerplace Game Reserve is a wonderful example of what can be achieved when ambitious humans combine their skills and commitment for a common, greater goal. In less than five years, the transformation of Summerplace from a cattle and pig farm to an international tourist destination has been remarkable. We have compiled a ‘Then and Now’ to reflect on our progress.

But first, a short summary: David and Simone Baber primarily farmed cattle and pigs for more than two decades. Floods and drought between 2014 and 2018 played havoc with their ability to remain a viable business as a farm and, with advice from a friend, they took a decision to change Summerplace to a tourist destination. They began to repurpose existing farm buildings one by one and by late 2019 were ready to accommodate guests.

Marula Cottage

Unfortunately, the Covid-19 virus sparked a government reaction that was detrimental to tourist destinations in South Africa and the Babers were faced with a disrupted start to their new business, which was called Summerplace Farmstay. But that didn’t deter them from making progress on creating a comfortable, tranquil destination in the Waterberg.

The Shed

Simone’s natural flair for interior decoration ensured that each of the self-catering cottages felt fresh, comfortable and like a home away from home. With an existing mountain bike trails network, hand-built by David over the years, it was mountain bikers that first began to visit Summerplace Farmstay. Instagram posts were noticed, word spread and accommodation was booked on a more consistent basis.

The Bike Village

Work was done on the Bike Village to ensure it became a homely communal place. Simone created a basic website and social media accounts and began to share the Summerplace energy. Non-mountain bikers started to book accommodation to explore this new Bushveld escape. And mountain bikers kept coming. One of those was Paul Rose, a businessman on the brink of retirement.

New Wine

Paul liked what he experienced and proposed a partnership with David and Simone and Summerplace Game Reserve was established, including the purchase of surrounding farms. More lodges were built and various species of game purchased and released. Old border fences were taken down and trails were expanded onto the new surrounding land. Investment was made in a fleet of rental mountain bikes, The Bike Village was extended further, the campsite was enhanced and meals-to-order became an option from the on-site chef.


Today, Summerplace Game Reserve is a world-class haven for those who seek a high-quality Bushveld escape where they can walk, run and ride freely to experience the variety of trees, birds and wildlife that find sanctuary in this piece of tranquil heaven in the Waterberg Biosphere.

Whether it’s self-catering or partially catered, more and more South Africans are discovering the magic of Summerplace Game Reserve with plans being finalised to start hosting more international tourists in 2024.

The Bike Village

To experience the magic of Summerplace Game Reserve for yourself, book a stay and discover just what it is that makes this such a compelling destination for outdoor lovers. See the full range of our tranquil Bushveld accommodation here.

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