Discover boutique hotels in Welgevonden Game Reserve, South Africa

Just three hours’ drive from Johannesburg, Welgevonden Game Reserve is a malaria-free swathe of hilly bushland and wide plains. Spread over 34,000 hectares of Limpopo province, this private reserve is at the northern edge of South Africa, bordering Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Botswana. Less well known than some of the reserves to the south, it has fewer visitors and far less game traffic, delivering that back-to-the-wild feeling in spades. It’s home to more than 50 species of animal, including the ‘big five’: rare white rhino, giraffe, cheetah and hippo. But no less interesting are the reserve’s smaller inhabitants, which include aardvarks, pangolins and more than 300 types of bird. Along with game drives, lodges usually offer guided bush walks and rhino tracking sessions, so you can leave the road and get closer to the animals – the best way to secure that once-in-a-lifetime shot.

When to go

The best time to visit depends on what you want to see. For most visitors, the winter (May to July) is the best time to go, when the savannah’s shorter and there’s less foliage on the trees, making big game easier to spot. But if you want to see the reserve’s birdlife at its best, the wet season (November to April) is best.

  • Best-price guarantee

    Found your stay cheaper elsewhere? We’ll match the price and give you a $75 voucher.

  • Smith Extra on arrival

    Enjoy extras such as a picnic lunch, champagne or spa treatments, on the house

Getting there

  • Planes

    OR Tambo International Airport is the one to aim for, and can be reached directly from London Heathrow and most European hubs. The drive from the airport to most lodges in the reserve takes around three hours. If you’re looking to shave some time off your transfer (and get bird’s-eye views while you’re at it), charter a plane to one of Welgevonden’s airstrips.
  • Automobiles

    You won’t need a car once you’re on the reserve, as you’ll do all your game drives in custom vehicles with an experienced ranger at the wheel. If you want to hire at the airport and drive to the reserve yourself, the Smith24 team can arrange it.