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ENJOY WINTER IN THE WATERBERG AT SUMMERPLACE

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.

INTRODUCING THE NEW ORANGE MTB ROUTE

There’s a new route at Summerplace Game Reserve that’s instantly broadened the riding options to a greater range of mountain bikers. The 22km Orange Route is ideal for lesser skilled recreational riders, but it also adds great value to experienced riders and wild-life lovers.

Already a premier mountain biking destination, Summerplace now offers even more to mountain bikers. During the summer, trailmaster, David Baber and his team added more than 25km of new mountain bike routes to the reserve’s trail network. Most of these additional kilometres went into the new Orange Route, which explores a fresh section of the reserve.

As you drive into the main gate at Summerplace, the land to your right, which includes a decent sized hill, now has many kilometers of engaging mountain bike trails. You need at least -4% gradient to create good flow and this slope ranges from -4 to -25%, which means plenty of flow.

We’ll get back to that hill in a bit though. It’s important to know that the Orange Route is a route that’s ideal for most mountain bikers. It’s got a couple of steep bits that might be a bit intimidating for some, but these are quite easy to dismount and portage. Ninety percent of the route is unintimidating and ideal for most mountain bikers.

The Orange Route starts near the Bike Village on the road that heads to the main gate. It hugs the side of the hill on a trail called Spook Huis, where many rocks have been cleared to ensure as smooth a ride as possible before it joins onto Drop to Gulley trail.

This piece of trail rolls gently down the slope in the direction of the main reserve road for a few hundred metres before it takes a left onto a trail called Old School. This is a completely new trail that winds its ways gradually in a northerly direction down to the low ground and then up the opposite slope, which is very slight in terms of gradient. It then turns east and takes you on an engaging path before turning north to join a gravel road.

You follow the gravel road for a while until you reach a boundary fence, turn right and then right again to begin the first of three ascents of the large hill that dominates this section of the reserve. David has masterfully crafted trail to make the most of this elevation, which delivers a moderate climbing challenge and stunning views.

The first descent is on a trail called Mountain Oak, which starts off steep, but which eases as you reach the gravel road where you can take a drink, chat excitedly to your mates about that cool descent before turning onto a long singletrack trail called Easy Going, which lives up to its name and allows you some freedom to enjoy more game-spotting.

The second ascent is more direct and on a jeep track road, which has some steep pitches but is superbly rewarding once you begin the second descent, which takes you about halfway down the slope before tackling the final ascent. This ascent brings you to the top of the hill again where you can appreciate some superb vistas to the south and west before dropping down the final descent on a trail called Ball Itch.

The name may be uncomfortable, but the trail is a delight! It drops 100 metres in 2km, has an average of -4.6 percent gradient and delivers some classic David Baber flow! This is sure to become one of the new favourite trails at Summerplace because no matter what your skill level, it’s so much fun.

The fun does end though, right in the dip, but you do get to take a steady pedal back to the end of the Orange Route on the gravel road, where you can process what you have just ridden or contemplate a second lap!

The Orange Route is mostly rideable for newer mountain bikers, but expect a couple of short portage bits. It’s all part of the adventure and it does allow you to pause and take in the natural beauty around you. For Intermediate and Experienced mountain bikers, the Orange Route is an absolute gem! The balance of climbing, descending and singletrack is just right and, like a small slab of your favourite chocolate, leaves you feeling both satisfied and craving more…

The Orange Route can also be considered a Mountain Biking Safari. A wide range of game can be encountered on this route, including Giraffe, Zebra, Roan Antelope, Impala, Kudu, Sable Antelope, Eland, Tsessebe, Warthog and Reedbuck, partly because the route covers a large area and partly because the vegetation isn’t too dense, which makes it easier to spot wild animals from your saddle.

For experienced/fit riders, the Orange Route is a great start or end loop as either a long warm-up or cool-down to a longer ride. It’s a highly engaging way to add another 20-odd kilometres of distance without too much toil.

To experience the new Orange Route – and all of the other mountain bike routes and trails at Summerplace Game Reserve, book your accommodation here. https://summerplacegamereserve.com/accommodation/

SUMMERPLACE: THE IDEAL VENUE FOR CORPORATE BREAKAWAYS

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 bookings@summerplacegamereserve.com

OUR SUPPORT FOR THE PLIGHT OF THE PANGOLIN

The Pangolin is a curious creature. It looks like a reptile but is a mammal. Pangolins are the only mammals completely covered in scales. Pangolins are also highly sought after in the Far East and are therefore either on the endangered or vulnerable wildlife lists. While rare, we have seen Pangolins at Summerplace Game Reserve. And we’re on a mission to help protect this amazing animal.

We were cautious about publishing an article that confirms Pangolins have been seen at Summerplace. The illegal trade of these unusual creatures – currently the mostly highly trafficked animal in the world – has understandably made location awareness a sensitive issue. However, promoting the plight of Pangolins is an essential part of helping save the species too and that’s the light in which this article has been published.

“I have lived, walked and ridden mountain bikes on this land my whole life and never seen a Pangolin,” says David Baber (52), co-owner of Summerplace Game Reserve. “So, we were quite excited when regular visitors, Sean and Joanne Badenhorst, came back from a late afternoon ride with photos and video of their Pangolin encounter.”

The Badenhorsts came across two Pangolins, a mother with a pup on her back on one of the popular mountain biking trails.

“We knew they were Pangolins, but we didn’t know that we were the only people to spot Pangolins here. We didn’t know how rare it is to see them in the wild. They were lying quite still in the middle of the trail when we saw them. We thought they would scurry off or roll up when they became aware of us, but they didn’t. I took a quick video and then wanted to get a bit closer to see if I could try and snap some photos,” explained Sean.

“They were aware of us because when I went around the other side of them to see their faces better, the larger one folded her head under her body. The younger one on top seemed unafraid and maybe even a bit curious. I knew that they roll into a ball for defence and I didn’t want them to feel threatened, so I only snapped a few pics. Interestingly, they never moved off the trail. Joanne and I walked our bikes around them and carried on with our ride,” added Sean.

“We are very pleased to have confirmation that there are Pangolins here. We haven’t seen any since that sighting in May 2023 and honestly don’t know how many there are here. As we grow our guest numbers, there’s a good chance there will be more sightings. Because we have such an established trails network, there’s a more consistent number of visitors enjoying riding, running or walking through the reserve in the early morning and late afternoon, when Pangolin are most likely to be seen,” says Baber.

“I don’t know much about Pangolins, other than they are very widely distributed in the Lowveld, Bushveld, Kalahari and Waterberg. You very rarely see them, but they are there. You can be sure that Pangolins live on any well-looked after farm. We probably have a good population of them at Summerplace, but it’s very rare that humans will ever see them here,” said John Mackie Conservation Director at Summerplace Game Reserve.

“The security at Summerplace Game Reserve – and the surrounding area – is of a very high standard. There are several properties in our region with Rhino, which are heavily protected by landowners and regional security companies against poaching and this no doubt also helps protect other species too, including Pangolins,” added Baber.

Pangolin primarily move around at night. | Photo: Pat Bonoir
Some facts about Pangolin:
  • There are eight species of Pangolins with four of those found in Africa.
  • Pangolins are insectivores and predominantly eat ants and termites, but also eat crickets, earthworms and flies.
  • They use their sharp claws to excavate into ant nests and their long, sticky tongues to reach the ants inside.
  • Little is known about their life span in the wild, but they have been known to live up to 20 years in captivity.
  • Pangolins are solitary creatures and are mostly nocturnal. They mostly live on the ground but can also climb trees.
  • The Temminck’s Pangolin, as spotted at Summerplace, can weigh up to 12kg and grow up to 90 centimetres in length.
  • When feeling threatened, Pangolins roll into a tight ball and use their hard, sharp-edged, overlapping scales as defence. They can also release a foul-smelling fluid from a gland at the base of their tail. Common animal threats are lion, hyena and leopard.
  • Pangolin give birth to live young – usually only one – with fully formed scales, which are still soft. When an infant, the pup will ride on its mother’s back.
  • Pangolins have poor eyesight but an exceptional sense of smell and hearing.
  • Pangolins are essential to the ecosystem in which they live. It’s anticipated they keep ant and termite populations under control.
  • Humans are Pangolin’s greatest threat. Organised crime syndicates traffic Pangolin illegally to Asia.
  • Pangolin scales consist of keratin, a substance found in fingernails, hair, and horns. They are used for traditional medicine in China and Vietnam and the Pangolin meat is also served as a delicacy in some places in Asia

According to the African Pangolin Working Group, the key to Pangolin conservation is to raise awareness about Pangolins. This can be done by sharing reliable and well-researched information on social media and in family and friends circles. Additionally, donating to verified Pangolin-focussed NGOs/NPOs goes incredibly far in Pangolin conservation. When donating to African Pangolin Working Group all funds go to research of the four African species of Pangolins as well as protection and rehabilitation projects.

There’s a very interesting 45-minute documentary video called, Eye of the Pangolin that’s worth watching if you have an interest in Pangolins. Watch it here.

To give yourself a chance at spotting a Pangolin at Summerplace Game Reserve, check out our variety of accommodation to suit all budgets here.

10 REASONS SUMMERPLACE IS THE IDEAL EASTER ESCAPE!

You may think that Easter Weekend is a long way away, but it isn’t! Easter Weekend this year is from 29 March until 1 April. It’s worth noting that Thursday, 21 March, is also a public holiday, essentially lining up two successive long weekends at a traditionally good-weather time of year. A good time to visit Summerplace Game Reserve. Here are 10 reasons why…

IT’S NOT TOO FAR

Summerplace Game Reserve is located in the Waterberg region of Limpopo province. It’s a 2h15m drive from Pretoria and less than 3 hours from Johannesburg. Most of the route is good quality N1 toll road. It’s not that far away from the big cities, but its far enough away to feel like another world!

IT’S A COUPLE’S RETREAT

Because our lodges are spaced to ensure privacy, Summerplace Game Reserve is perfect for a couple’s escape. You can either self-cater or book your meals in advance. We deliver meals to your lodge so that you can focus on relaxing and being present for your significant other. Walks in the bush, sundowner game drives and stargazing from the hot tub are all sure to elevate the romantic getaway to be a memorable one.

IT’S TRANQUIL

No matter what New Year’s Resolutions you made, it doesn’t take long to build up post-Festive Season stress. The city buzz gradually sucks you into chaotic routine that involves meetings, deadlines, school runs, traffic and loadshedding. There’s complete tranquility at Summerplace Game Reserve where the only delays are caused by wild animals crossing the road or trail…

IT’S FAMILY FRIENDLY

Summerplace Game Reserve is ideal for families. We love to see kids enjoying the outdoors and ensure that that there’s loads of space for them explore the freedom of the bush. They can ride their bicycles on fun trails right in front of The Bike Village, they can swim in our pool or play on the jungle gym. Whether you book a camping site, or one of our lodges (some of which have outdoor wood-fired hot tubs), you can be assured that kids will love their time at Summerplace!

WORLD CLASS TRAILS

If you are a mountain biker, then you’ll love our network of world-class mountain bike trails. We have trails to suit all levels of skill and fitness and because we don’t have Big Five animals on the reserve, the riding is safe – although you are likely to encounter wildlife on your rides as we have more than 40 species of large mammals at Summerplace Game Reserve. Find out why mountain bikers love Summerplace here.

MOUNTAIN BIKE HIRE

We have a fleet of high-quality mountain bikes for hire. These include regular bikes and eBikes, making it possible for anyone, even non-mountain bikers, to enjoy the freedom of a bushveld ride. Find out more about our rental bikes here.

ACCOMMODATION TO SUIT ALL BUDGETS

Whether you’re on a tight budget or have no budget limit, there’s top-quality accommodation to suit everyone at Summerplace Game Reserve. From our beautifully maintained campsite under the shady trees to our high-end luxury villa and everything in between, you’ll get the very best Bushveld escape experience. Find out more about our accommodation options here.

ABUNDANCE OF TREES & BIRDS

If you’re dendrophile or an ornithophile, you’ll love the variety of tree and bird species at Summerplace Game Reserve. While it’s situated in the Bushveld, Summerplace Game Reserve also enjoys some elevation, which see a wider range of vegetation and birdlife than most of the region. Find out more about our tree and bird species here.

WIDE VARIETY OF GAME

With over 40 species of large mammals, Summerplace Game Reserve is home to a variety of wildlife. Expect to see many species of antelope, including Kudu, Eland, Sable Antelope, Tsessebe, Roan Antelope, Waterbuck, Impala, Bushbuck, Mountain Reedbuck, Common Reedbuck and more! There are also the visually impactful Giraffe and Zebra as well as elusive creatures, including Pangolin, Aardvark and Leopard. Find out more about our wildlife here.

WE ARE PET-FRIENDLY

Several of our lodges are fenced, making them perfect for pets. It’s not always possible to take your pets away with you, but Summerplace Game Reserve is a fast becoming a favourite pet-friendly game reserve. The pet-friendly lodges are popular, so ensure you secure you Easter Weekend booking soon!

To be honest, there are a lot more than 10 reasons Summerplace Game Reserve is the best place to spend the Easter Weekend, but these are personal and developed by the hundreds and hundreds of guests that keep returning to invest their time in a place where peace is a priority.

To book your accommodation, check out the various options here.

SABLE AT SUMMERPLACE: A WATERBERG SUCCESS STORY

There’s a very good chance that when you visit Summerplace Game Reserve, you will encounter Sable Antelope. This regal buck with its beautifully arced horns is considered a very marginal species in this area, with survival not guaranteed. However, the Sable at Summerplace appear to be flourishing. Here’s why.

“Of the more than 40 large mammal species at Summerplace, Sable is definitely the most marginal. They may have occurred in the area in the past and if they did, it would have been a scattered population with low numbers,” said John Mackie, Summerplace Conservation Director.

“In order to introduce Sable to Summerplace, we needed to start with a herd that was adapted to this environment. We managed to locate a herd not too far from Summerplace. The farmer told us that he lost many animals over the years in his efforts to introduce Sable to the area,” explained Mackie.

“We purchased the entire herd, which numbered 32 animals, including three breeding bulls. It has a nice and diverse gene pool and was well adapted to the region,” added Mackie.

Photo: Josh Baber

Sable are more suited to grassy woodland areas in South Africa, such as the Mopane Woodland in the northern Kruger National Park and the Limpopo River basin. The Waterberg is largely Bushveld and therefore doesn’t provide the ideal habitat for Sable.

“But, as we have come to discover, Summerplace isn’t a typical Waterberg reserve and the Sable seem to have settled in very well. We have seen some young additions and we also recently introduced at new, younger breeding bull to Summerplace,” said Mackie.

The Sable is a large antelope, standing 117–140 cm tall. The bulls weigh about 235kg and females about 220kg. It has a compact and robust build, characterised by a thick neck and tough skin. It has a well-developed and often upright mane on its neck, as well as a short mane on the throat. Its general colouration is rich chestnut to black. Females and juveniles are chestnut to dark brown, while males begin darkening and turn black after three years. However, in southern populations, such as that at Summerplace, females have a brown to black coat. The Afrikaans name for Sable is Swartwitpens, which roughly translates to black with white stomach.

The Sable is a grazer and a browser. During the rainy season  it feeds on the grasses and foliage of woodlands, and in the dry season it emerges onto grasslands where it concentrates on green leaves after. It is water-dependent and visits pools and pans daily in the dry season.

Photo: Josh Baber

The Sable is a sociable and territorial antelope. Herds of females and young numbering up to 70 live in ranges of 10-50 square kilometres. Herds frequently break up into smaller units of variable composition and may remain separated for long intervals. The main predator of Sable is Leopard. Adult Sable are generally too large and formidable for leopards, but calves and yearlings are vulnerable.

“The Sable were among the first purchased game to arrive when we created a game reserve. They have been here for more than two years now and appear to be thriving.  We started with 32 and now have more than 50. They are obviously getting the right kind of grazing as we have a mixture of grasses here at Summerplace, but we did purchase a herd that was already adapted to this region, so are pleased with how they have settled here,” said David Baber, co-owner of Summerplace Game Reserve.

“Sable encounters are fairly frequent at Summerplace. The Sable aren’t too skittish and mountain bikers regularly ride near them. Sometimes the Sable herd is on one of the trails and when the riders approach, they move off on either side, but they don’t scatter in a panic like many other antelope here, they move away a bit and remain fairly close by,” added Baber.

To secure a chance of a Sable encounter at Summerplace, check out our accommodation options here. https://summerplacegamereserve.com/accommodation/

Photo: Josh Baber

VALUE-FOR-MONEY ACCOMMODATION AT SUMMERPLACE

Regardless of our budget we all want value-for-money holiday accommodation in South Africa. That’s why we have three levels of accommodation at Summerplace Game Reserve. Here’s a breakdown of our comfortable bushveld escape accommodation that’s just a short drive from Gauteng.

Budget: R180 per person per night

BRETT’S CAMPSITE

Our recently expanded campsite is located on a largely flat surface beneath a canopy of shady trees. There are electricity points spread throughout the campsite as well as recently added modern ablution blocks, which offer separate male and female toilets and hot showers as well as communal dishwashing space. There are also portable braais. Catering for caravans, trailer tents or regular tents, Brett’s Campsite is near to the Bike Village, where food and beverages can be purchased and where a swimming pool and other amenities for campers are available.

To find out more or book, click here.

Budget: R550-R650 per person per night

THE SHED

The Shed comprises three self-catering units that are separate, but which can also be combined to accommodate a small group. Sheds 1 and 3 are two-bedroom, four-sleepers, while Shed 2 is a one-bedroom two-sleeper. Each unit has its own bathroom. There’s a veranda space for each unit for outdoor relaxation as well as access to a large boma and firepit. The Shed apartments all have uncapped Wi-Fi, power is via solar and hot water is generated by gas. If you are on a budget but need to escape to the bush from the city, The Shed is your sanctuary.

To find out more or book The Shed 1 or 3, click here.

To find out more or book The Shed 2, click here.

NEW WINE

New Wine is a two-bedroom, four-sleeper self-catering home. Although adjacent to The Shed, it faces the bush on the base of Marula Hill and is private with its own veranda, outdoor fire pit and wood-fired hot tub. The open-plan living room and kitchen area is spacious and comfortable for indoor relaxation. New Wine has uncapped Wi-Fi, power is via solar and hot water is generated by gas. New Wine offers incredible bang-for-your-buck bushveld accommodation.

New Wine is fenced and pet friendly.

To find out more or book, click here.

MARULA COTTAGE

This free-standing self-catering two-bedroom, four-sleeper cottage has one of the best vistas at Summerplace Game Reserve. Located about 500 metres from the Bike Village, Marula Cottage has a veranda with a view over the grassy plain that we call ‘Summergeti’, where wild animals regularly gather to graze or rest. Beyond that is the classic bushveld vegetation with the highest peaks of Summerplace’s hills on the skyline. Marula Cottage is private with its own fire pit and boma and a wood-fired hot tub. The open-plan living room and kitchen area is spacious and comfortable for indoor relaxation. It has a bath and a shower. Marula Cottage has uncapped Wi-Fi, power is via solar and hot water is generated by gas. Ideal for a small family getaway.

Marula Cottage is fenced and pet friendly.

To find out more or book, click here.

YORKS VIEW

This six-bedroom, 12-sleeper lodge is located on the north-eastern high ground of Summerplace Gamer Reserve, delivering spectacular views of the reserve and the Waterberg. There are four bathrooms, a large comfortable living room and modern kitchen, making this an ideal group booking lodge. Yorks View is ideal for outdoor relaxation and entertainment with a generous wraparound veranda, swimming pool, boma, fire pit and wood-fired hot tub. There’s uncapped Wi-Fi, solar power and gas-generated hot water. This is the ideal bush escape accommodation for families or groups of friends.

Yorks View is fenced and pet friendly.

To find out more or book, click here.

Budget: R875-R1050 per person per night

ROSEMARY COTTAGE

This spacious three-bedroom, six-sleeper bush lodge has recently been upgraded to offer a tranquil bush escape. Each bedroom has an ensuite bathroom one of which includes a bath. Located close to the Bike Village, this comfortable unit is also right at the start of the mountain biking and running trails and adjacent to the tennis court. There’s a covered veranda and a wood-fired hot tub for outdoor relaxation; and there’s uncapped Wi-Fi, solar power and gas-generated hot water. Rosemary Cottage is the ideal accommodation for active families and friend groups looking to get away from the city.

Rosemary Cottage is fenced and pet friendly.

To find out more or book, click here.

SARINGA

This luxurious couples retreat is one of our new lodges, featuring modern design to capture the natural light and wilderness sounds of the Waterberg. Set against Marula Hill with uninterrupted views of the bush and Waterberg peaks, Saringa is a stunning destination for couples looking for privacy and space. Built as a self-catering lodge, it includes a comfortable open-plan kitchen and living area with fireplace. There’s a covered veranda and wood-fired hot tub as well as uncapped Wi-Fi, solar power and gas geysers. Saringa is the perfect romantic getaway close to Pretoria and Johannesburg.

To find out more or book, click here.

BUSHWILLOW

This modern two-bedroom four-sleeper lodge is designed to offer ample space and stunning views of Summerplace Game Reserve. The bedrooms each have an en-suite bathroom, one of which also has an outdoor shower. For outdoor relaxation, there’s a large, covered veranda, fire pit and a wood-fired hot tub. The spacious living area includes a modern kitchen and comfortable lounge with fireplace. Bushwillow also offers uncapped Wi-Fi, solar power and gas-heated geysers. Bushwillow offers classy accommodation for a weekend away with friends or a small family.

To find out more or book, click here.

SUMMERHILL

Designed to accommodate large groups OR offer separate mini-lodges, Summerhill is the ultimate modern bush lodge. Set on the south-facing slope of Marula Hill, Summerhill features a large living and dining room with full kitchen and scullery. A generous covered veranda offers ample outdoor relaxation and dining space, while a built-in braai, fire pit, swimming pool, tanning deck and wood-fired hot tub complete the outdoor facilities. There are two two-sleeper units and two four-sleeper units, each with its own kitchenette and bathroom with outdoor shower option. Summerhill is the perfect venue for small business conferences or social group getaways.

To find out more or book, click here.

Located in the Waterberg, Limpopo, Summerplace Game Reserve is a 2-hour 15-minute drive from Pretoria and less than 3 hours from Johannesburg. Although all accommodation is self-catering, tasty meals can be ordered in advance to give you a break from cooking to focus on relaxing! Our activities include game drives, bush walks, hiking, trail-running, mountain biking and tennis. We have more than 40 species of large mammals making for regular, exciting wildlife encounters while exploring our reserve.

SUMMERPLACE CAMERA TRAPS OFFER SURPRISING REVELATIONS

A few months back we published an article about the installation of camera traps at Summerplace Game Reserve. The first data check has been done and a total of 34 species have been photographed, most were expected but there are a few surprises. Here are the details and the images.

The FBIP Waterberg Biodiversity Project, headed by Professor Nigel Barker from the University of Pretoria and managed by Marelize Greyling of the Waterberg Research Support Centre are responsible for the camera traps installation at Summerplace. It’s part of the mammal survey being undertaken by the Waterberg Biodiversity Project, which is headed up by Professor Mark Keith.

Top: Brown Hyena, Bottom: Black-backed Jackal

All of these humans have an interest in studying and preserving the Waterberg Biosphere of which Summerplace Game Reserve is a part of. The camera traps are robust cameras placed in selected locations to remotely capture images of animals. They operate continually and silently using a motion sensor and infra-red light beam.

Leopard

“After the first service following about three months of capture we were able to identify 34 species. We were quite surprised by the diversity of species captured at Summerplace, especially the diversity of small predator species. These interesting species include Honey Badger, Rusty Spotted Genet, Serval, Caracal and Water Mongoose,” said Greyling.

“Other interesting, noteworthy species include Aardvark, Jameson’s Red Rock Rabbit, Leopard and Brown Hyena,” added Greyling.

Top left: Civet; Top right: Badger, Bottom left: Aardvark; Bottom right: Rusty Spotted Genet

“I’m not really surprised to find all of those species at Summerplace. But it is certainly nice to get visual, recent confirmation that they are here, especially both species of Genet and the Water Mongoose/Marsh Mongoose. I expect we’ll find a couple more species when the next camera trap images are checked in the future,” said John Mackie, Summerplace Game Reserve Conservation Director.

“What for me is really exciting, is the presence of the White-tailed Mongoose. That was a big surprise for me. The White-tailed Mongoose is generally a Lowveld animal. They do occur on the Waterberg, but I would say that Summerplace is right on the western edge of their distribution range. They’re normally in much lower, hotter areas.

Top left: Bush Pig; Top right: Jameson’s Red Rock Rabbit; Bottom left: White-tailed Mongoose; Bottom right: Serval

All told, though, the camera traps give us important information in images that confirm the signs of a very healthy environment and that’s really what’s most important to us,” added Mackie.

“The cameras will stay on site at Summerplace for a while longer. They are normally on site for 6-8 months and are serviced periodically. Data will now be analysed using a program called Traptagger to verify the findings from the first batch of images. After the six-month deployment, all data will be analysed taking into account management, weather and habitat types,” added Greyling.

Top left: Kudu; Top right: Eland; Bottom left: Bushbuck; Bottom right Tsessebe

VIDEO: Watch the video here.

GIRAFFE EXPECTED TO THRIVE AT SUMMERPLACE

Since Summerplace was transformed from a farm to a game reserve, we have introduced several new wildlife species. Visually, the most prominent of these species is Giraffe. Although the Waterberg in general isn’t naturally ideal for Giraffe, these graceful creatures have really settled in well at Summerplace. Here’s why.

According to Waterberg Biosphere expert, Warwick Tarboton, Giraffe have been present in the region for thousands of years.

“We see on the rock art in caves* in the region depictions of Giraffe going back a very long time. Giraffes are definitely indigenous to the Waterberg region,” said Tarboton after a recent visit to Summerplace.

This rock art, located at Kaingo Game Reserve, about 45km from Summerplace, is dated as Later Stone Age – around 4000 years ago.

John Mackie, Summerplace Conservation Director, has been responsible for the introduction of Giraffe to Summerplace over the past two years. He agrees that Giraffe are indigenous to the area, but not the entire region, which is largely Bushveld.

A rock painting of a giraffe with an extremely long neck found at one of 70 historic rock art sites in the Waterberg. | Photo: Dr Ghilraen Laue

“Giraffe would have been indigenous, but not very common and likely migratory over time,” said Mackie.

“There are very few parts of the Waterberg that are able to sustain Giraffe with food all year round. Summerplace is obviously one of those. Giraffe are more of a Lowveld species, like Impala. They prefer acacia, which is attached to sweetveld. There is a lot of sweetveld at Summerplace, but very little in the rest of the Waterberg. There’s plenty of acacia and other suitable trees at Summerplace, which is more than adequate to sustain a Giraffe population on the reserve,” said Mackie.

Over the past two years, Mackie has sourced groups of Giraffe from nine different areas so as to ensure a diverse gene pool.

“We have introduced a total of 34 Giraffes at Summerplace now. A couple of young have already been born on the reserve. They seem to be settling in very well. They must be left alone now for the next five years – there’s plenty of food for them, so they’ll hopefully thrive,” added Mackie.

The Giraffe at Summerplace is the South African Giraffe, one of two subspecies of the Southern Giraffe, commonly found in northern South Africa, southern and northern Botswana, and southwestern Mozambique. They number around 31000.

Whether hiking, running, mountain biking or on a game drive, a Giraffe encounter at Summerplace is always a possibility.

Fully grown Giraffe stand between 4.3-5.7 metres tall, with males taller than females. The average male weighs around 1100kg, while the average female weighs around 800kg. Each Giraffe has a unique coat pattern with calves inheriting some coat pattern traits from their mothers.

Males and females have prominent horns on their heads. These are called ossicones, which are skin-covered bone-like structures. The ossicones of young and females are thin and display tufts of hair on top, while the ossicones of adult males are bald and knobbed on top.

Giraffe have only two gaits – walking and galloping. They can gallop at speeds of up to 60kph, but can sustain a speed of 50kph for several kilometres. Adult Giraffe eat around 34kg of plant matter a day. Giraffe gestation is between 400-460 days and usually one calf is born, although twins have been noted. A Giraffe lifespan on average is 38 years.

To experience the Giraffe at Summerplace Game Reserve, book a stay at one of our accommodation options here.

* To read more about the rock art in the Waterberg, click here

CONFIRMED: SUMMERPLACE IS RICH IN TREE AND BIRD SPECIES

“We spent two days at Summerplace and it was an unexpected surprise!” That’s what Waterberg expert, Warwick Tarboton, said following his first visit to Summerplace Game Reserve during October 2023. He and his group recorded high numbers of tree and bird species, both of which are expected to increase. Here’s what they discovered.

Tarboton is retired, but keeps busy by managing a website called Waterberg Bio-Quest, a veritable treasure in terms of information on the Waterberg Biosphere. The website  is a meticulous record of almost everything natural in the Waterberg Biosphere, including mammals, insects, birds, reptiles, trees, wildflowers and grasses. It also contains every kind of map that’s relevant to the region, including topography, geology, drainage and many more. All content on the Waterberg Bio-Quest is English but most of it has also been translated into Afrikaans.

“We have visited well over 100 properties in the Waterberg and haven’t seen anything quite like Summerplace,” said Tarboton. “Five couples with deep interests and experience in nature and conservation were in my group and we thoroughly enjoyed our first visit.

“When you drive up the Melkrivier Road, everything looks rather homogenous. But driving into the Summerplace property with its hills and valleys delivered some very interesting sightings for us,” he added.

Until mid-2021, Summerplace was a farm, but the conversion to a game reserve has seen the introduction of a range of mammals, all of which occur naturally (or used to) in the Waterberg. Among other species, Roan Antelope, Sable Antelope, Tsessebe, Common Reedbuck, Mountain Reedbuck and Giraffe have all been added to the reserve in the past 26 months.

“I am most encouraged that Summerplace is keeping its species introductions to animals that originally occur there. The Tsessebe and Roan Antelope in particular aren’t found elsewhere in the Waterberg these days, so it was really good to see them at Summerplace,” said Tarboton.

“In our short visit we identified 94 species of trees. I would estimate that there are probably 130-140 in total. That’s a very good list! We spotted 107 different bird species, which is very good for the Waterberg this time of the year because the migrants haven’t returned yet. Combined with others who have recorded bird sightings at Summerplace, the list numbers 140 currently. That is a good score, especially for a place with limited water,” he added.

For Tarboton and his group, the sighting of a baby African Hawk Eagle was a highlight.

“I asked David Baber, who was our guide, about any raptors and he took us to a nest that has been there for years. We identified it as the nest of an African Hawk Eagle because it contained a big chick that’s almost ready to fly. Assuming they feel safe, they keep the same nest for years. This is the 28th African Hawk Eagle nest that we are aware of in the Waterberg.

As one of the authors of the book Wildflowers of the Waterberg (digital sample here), Tarboton obviously has a keen interest in this category of flora.

“We did see some wildflowers, but once the rains have begun, that’s when we’re likely to see a lot more at Summerplace. We are looking forward to returning after some rain,” said Tarboton.

The group was also impressed with the Aloe (Marlothii) at Summerplace.

“David took us to the Aloe forest and that is very unique. He also showed us the giant Aloe on the high ground. It’s very rare for an Aloe to grow that tall. We estimate it to be 12-14 metres tall, which is immense and at least double the size they normally grow,” remarked Tarboton, who will return regularly to continue recording flora, fauna and other data for his website.

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