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Mabula is an up-market private game lodge situated on the outskirts of the Waterberg. The 12 500ha reserve is host to over 320 bird species. A combination of typical bushveld, open plains and numerous watering holes allow for the rich bird diversity. Mabula is the focal point of the Southern Ground-Hornbill re-introduction program and has already successfully introduced Red-billed Oxpecker to the reserve.



Mabula is made up predominantly of Acacia and Combretum veld broken by grassy plains and dams. A granite ridge bisects the reserve, resulting in an acidic based soil. The hills are covered with Beechwoods, Wild Syringas and Bushman’s Candles. small areas of karroid vegetation exist, resulting in a surprising number of karoo specials, many reaching the limit of their range here. During summer, certain parts of the reserve become marshy and an array of unusual specials have turned up.



The reserve is rich in typical bushveld birds. A large variety of woodpeckers, kingfishers, cuckoos and bee-eaters characterise the reserve. Species include Swallow-tailed Bee-eater, African Red-eyed Bulbul, Lizard Buzzard, African Cuckoo, Namaqua Dove, African Hawk-Eagle and Martial Eagle, Brown Snake-Eagle and Black-chested Snake-Eagle, Green-capped Eremomela, Coqui Francolin and Shelley's Francolin, Freckled Nightjar and Rufous-cheeked Nightjar, Eurasian Golden Oriole (summer), Verreaux's Eagle-Owl, Meyer's Parrot, Southern White-crowned Shrike, Yellow-throated Petronia, Wattled Starling, Black Stork and Marabou Stork, Pearl-breasted Swallow and Red-breasted Swallow, Black-crowned Tchagra, Brown-crowned Tchagra, Cape Vulture, White-backed Vulture and Lesser Masked-Weaver.

The grassy plains hold Kurrichane Buttonquail, Ant-eating Chat, Blue Crane, Desert Cisticola, Temminck's Courser, Amur Falcon and Red-footed Falcon (summer), White-bellied Korhaan, Banded Martin, Common House-Martin (summer), Buffy Pipit, Secretarybird, Lesser Grey Shrike (summer) and Capped Wheatear.

Dams and associated marshes host Little Bittern, African Quailfinch, Spur-winged Goose, Hamerkop, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Squacco Heron, Giant Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Marsh Owl and Greater Painted-snipe.

Small patches of karroid vegetation can produce Crimson-breasted Shrike, Green-winged Pytilia, Sociable Weaver, Marico Flycatcher, Southern Pied Babbler, Kalahari Scrub-Robin, Black-faced Waxbill and Violet-eared Waxbill.



The Klipspringer walking trail allows one to walk unaccompanied on the reserve. The trail loosely follows the granite ridge through the reserve providing access to the lodge and all three time-share sites. Distance can vary from a 4½ to an 11 kilometer round trip. The trail is best undertaken in the early morning as the area becomes extremely hot later on. Special care must be taken while hiking as the main reserve holds White Rhinoceros, African Elephant, Cape Buffalo, Leopard and Hippopotamus. Game drives can be undertaken with the resident field-guides (own cost). They may on request visit the Southern Ground-Hornbill project or one of the hides while on the drive. Alternatively, one can go on a bird-specific drive or guided walk (only early morning) with one of the bird-knowledgeable field-guides (between 40 and 80 species). Bird breakfasts and picnics are also available. All the above-mentioned activities are subject to availability. Some of the best birding to be had is around the lodge and time-share sites. An early morning ramble about these areas is bound to produce up to 40 bird species.



Mabula Game Lodge provides accommodation in up-market family or double rooms as well as in the exclusive tented camp. Prices include game drives and meals. Alternatively, one can buy, swap or rent time-share units. Game drives are allocated to the units, but booking at least 3 months in advance is essential. Enquiries can be forwarded to Mabula Time-Share reception.

From Warmbaths head west on the old Rooiberg Road towards Thabazimbi for 34 kilometres. Turn right onto a large dirt road (11 kilometres long) just after the Mabula bottle-store. Follow the signboards to the reserve. The last seven kilometres of the dirt road has been deeply graded on either side of the road. Caution must be exercised during heavy summer rains, as these ditches are not easily noticed. The road is normally in a good condition but becomes potholed and slippery during and after heavy summer rains. Parts of the road have been washed away during recent years.

Mabula Game Reserve Contacts.
Mabula Game Lodge – +27 14 734 0000, fax +27 14 734 0001

Mabula Game Lodge Website

Mabula Game Reserve is best visited from the end of September to the beginning of April. Book well in advance, especially when staying in one of the time-share units. Booking of game drives is essential. Contact both the Mabula Time-Share office and the Wildlife Services for inquiries and bookings.

Clayton Byrne 2001.

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