Benfontein Nature Reserve

Benfontein Nature Reserve, Northern Cape


Nestled in the captivating landscapes of the Northern Cape, a mere 430 kilometers away from Johannesburg, lies a hidden gem of biodiversity – Benfontein Nature Reserve. This remarkable sanctuary, situated…

Benfontein Nature Reserve

Nestled in the captivating landscapes of the Northern Cape, a mere 430 kilometers away from Johannesburg, lies a hidden gem of biodiversity – Benfontein Nature Reserve. This remarkable sanctuary, situated near Kimberley, boasts an array of awe-inspiring wildlife and is renowned as the ultimate destination to catch a glimpse of Africa’s smallest cat – the elusive black-footed cat. Prepare for a nocturnal adventure as these enigmatic creatures only emerge under the cover of darkness.

However, the black-footed cat is not the only fascinating resident of Benfontein Nature Reserve. Did you know that this reserve is also the world’s leading research facility on the aardwolf, commonly known as the “earth wolf” or “maanhaar jackal”? These intriguing animals, belonging to the same family as hyenas, are extensively studied within the reserve’s boundaries.

Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the scientists at Benfontein and the neighboring Dronfield Nature Reserve (both owned by De Beers), visitors have the opportunity to observe these captivating creatures up close. To make the most of your experience, it is advisable to request a guided night drive, where you can witness not only the black-footed cat and aardwolf but also other nocturnal animals such as the bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, aardvark, porcupine, and caracal.

One might wonder how these elusive creatures can be spotted in the vastness of the reserve. The answer lies in the innovative methods employed by Benfontein. They equip the black-footed cats with radio collars, enabling researchers to track and locate them. Otherwise, these solitary felines would remain virtually invisible to the human eye.

While Benfontein Nature Reserve is renowned for its nocturnal wonders, it also captivates bird enthusiasts and wildlife lovers alike during the daylight hours. A remarkable assortment of avian species calls this reserve home, including the majestic African fish eagle, sociable weavers, larks, and pipits. Furthermore, Benfontein takes great pride in its success in breeding the African white-backed vulture, one of the few raptors thriving within the reserve.

The splendor of Benfontein extends beyond the realm of birds. During the day, visitors have the opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife species, such as black wildebeest, roan antelope, sable antelope, rhinoceros, and buffalo. These magnificent creatures traverse the open savannas, grasslands, and Karoo semi-desert, creating a picturesque backdrop against which unforgettable memories are forged.

As you embark on your journey through Benfontein Nature Reserve, immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of nature that unfolds before your eyes. Delve into the mysteries of the nocturnal world, witness the groundbreaking research conducted on the aardwolf, and marvel at the symphony of birdlife that fills the air. Each step within this sanctuary reveals a deeper connection with the wonders of the natural world, reminding us of the importance of conservation and preservation.

Popular Activities and Attractions in and around Benfontein Nature Reserve

Benfontein Nature Reserve is not only a haven for wildlife enthusiasts but also offers a plethora of activities and attractions that will leave visitors enthralled. Whether you are seeking adventure, cultural experiences, or simply a serene escape into nature, this remarkable destination has something for everyone.

Guided Nature Walks
Embark on a guided nature walk within the reserve’s pristine wilderness. Immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and scents of the natural environment as knowledgeable guides lead you through the diverse landscapes, sharing their expertise on the flora, fauna, and ecological significance of the area.

With its rich avian diversity, Benfontein Nature Reserve is a birdwatcher’s paradise. Grab your binoculars and join experienced birding guides to spot a wide range of species, including the majestic African fish eagle, sociable weavers, larks, pipits, and an assortment of other colorful and melodious birds.

Photography Safaris
Capture the essence of Benfontein’s breathtaking landscapes and its fascinating inhabitants through a photography safari. Accompanied by professional photographers, you’ll have the opportunity to hone your skills and capture stunning shots of wildlife, scenic vistas, and the captivating interplay of light and shadow.

Night Drives
Venture into the realm of nocturnal creatures on an exhilarating night drive. Guided by experts, these thrilling excursions offer a rare chance to spot elusive animals such as the black-footed cat, aardwolf, bat-eared fox, black-backed jackal, aardvark, porcupine, and caracal as they emerge under the cloak of darkness.

Cultural Experiences
Immerse yourself in the rich heritage and traditions of the region by exploring the nearby town of Kimberley. Discover the fascinating history of the diamond rush at the Big Hole and Diamond Museum, or delve into the art and culture of the area at the McGregor Museum. Don’t miss the opportunity to interact with the friendly locals and savor the flavors of traditional cuisine.

Rock Art Sites
Uncover the ancient stories and artistic expressions of the San people at the rock art sites near Benfontein. These remarkable rock paintings provide a glimpse into the cultural and spiritual practices of one of Africa’s oldest indigenous communities.

Nearby Nature Reserves
Extend your exploration beyond Benfontein by visiting the nearby nature reserves. Dronfield Nature Reserve, owned by De Beers like Benfontein, is another fantastic destination for wildlife sightings. Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, located a short distance away, offers a unique and exclusive safari experience, showcasing the beauty of the Kalahari Desert.

Escape the bright lights of the city and marvel at the wonders of the night sky. Benfontein Nature Reserve’s remote location and minimal light pollution provide ideal conditions for stargazing. Lay back and be captivated by the blanket of stars that adorn the heavens above.

Relaxation and Wellness
Unwind and rejuvenate amidst the tranquility of nature. Many accommodations in and around the reserve offer spa facilities, yoga retreats, and wellness programs, allowing you to find inner peace and serenity.

Whether you choose to delve into the natural wonders of Benfontein Nature Reserve, immerse yourself in cultural experiences, or embark on thrilling adventures, this remarkable destination promises an unforgettable journey. Embrace the multitude of activities and attractions, each offering a unique perspective on the beauty and diversity of the region.

Horseback Safaris at Mattanu Private Game Reserve

Situated a mere 55 kilometers from Kimberley, Mattanu Private Game Reserve offers a truly unique and exhilarating adventure through its horseback safaris. These remarkable trips allow you to immerse yourself in the wildlife environment like never before, providing an extraordinary opportunity to explore the scenic wonders and encounter the diverse wildlife of the Northern Cape.

Unlike traditional safaris, a horseback safari at Mattanu Private Game Reserve offers a completely different perspective. It goes beyond the hum of a Land Cruiser engine or the predictable movements of a vehicle. Instead, you become an integral part of the African landscape, embraced by its untamed beauty and thrust into the vibrant world of the reserve’s wildlife.

Whether you are a novice rider or an experienced equestrian, a horseback safari at Mattanu promises an all-encompassing wildlife experience. As you traverse the vast wilderness on horseback, over 30 different species of animals reveal themselves to you, creating a truly unforgettable encounter with the fauna and flora of the Green Kalahari area.

The beauty of a horseback safari lies in its ability to offer a deeper connection with nature. As you ride through the reserve, you become more than a mere observer of wildlife; you become a participant in their world, experiencing the intricate web of life from their perspective. It is a “greener” way to explore the wild, as you tread lightly upon the earth while gaining a newfound appreciation for the animals and their natural habitat.

The horseback safari experience at Mattanu Private Game Reserve is unparalleled in its ability to provide both adrenaline-pumping excitement and a sense of tranquility. You will witness the unrelenting nature of the wild, the peacefulness of the landscape, and the captivating interactions between species. It is an adventure that caters to your senses, igniting your spirit of exploration and leaving you with memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Whether you choose to embark on a leisurely ride through the bush, accompanied by an experienced guide, or opt for a more exhilarating and fast-paced excursion, the horseback safaris at Mattanu offer something for every adventurer. The reserve’s knowledgeable guides ensure your safety and provide insights into the region’s unique ecology, enriching your experience with their wealth of knowledge.

So, if you seek an extraordinary way to connect with nature and the wildlife of the Northern Cape, a horseback safari at Mattanu Private Game Reserve is an absolute must. Step away from the conventional and embrace the thrill of riding through the untamed wilderness. Let the rhythm of your horse’s hooves carry you into a world where nature reigns supreme, and adventure awaits at every turn.

Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum

No visit to Benfontein Nature Reserve would be complete without exploring one of Kimberley’s major attractions, the awe-inspiring Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum. Once a flat-topped hill, this extraordinary site now stands as a testament to human determination and is recognized as the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. It was painstakingly dug by picks, shovels, and sheer willpower, resulting in a staggering depth of 215 meters, a surface area of 17 hectares, and a perimeter spanning 1.6 kilometers.

The Kimberley Mine, which began operations on or around July 16, 1871, ceased mining activities by August 14, 1914. Over the years, it yielded a remarkable 2,722 kilograms of diamonds extracted from a staggering 22.5 million tons of excavated earth. Today, the Big Hole stands surrounded by original historic buildings that have been relocated from their original sites to form a magnificent open-air museum.

Recent upgrades have transformed the Big Hole into an immersive and captivating attraction, offering visitors an array of engaging experiences.

The Underground Mine Experience
Step into a recreation of a mine shaft from the 19th century and discover the perilous conditions faced by miners of that era. This immersive journey provides a glimpse into the challenges and hardships of diamond mining in the past.

Film Presentation
Watch a fascinating fifteen-minute film that introduces visitors to the captivating story of diamonds in Kimberley. Gain insights into the city’s rich mining heritage and the significant impact of the diamond industry.

Exhibition Centre
Delve into a treasure trove of photographs, archive material, and original artifacts that bring to life the story of diamonds from their early discovery to the present day. Explore the evolution of diamond mining techniques, technological advancements, and the cultural significance of these precious gems.

Pulsator Building
Marvel at the old jigging machines and grease tables housed within the Pulsator Building. These innovative contraptions were specially designed to extract diamonds from the ore, providing a glimpse into the intricate processes involved in diamond recovery.

Real Diamond Display
Enter a vault that houses the largest uncut octahedron in the world, known as the famous 616. Named for its carat weight and size, this extraordinary diamond offers a captivating display of natural beauty and rarity.

Viewing Platform
Ascend to the new viewing platform and marvel at the remarkable scale and grandeur of the Big Hole from above. Take in the panoramic views, allowing the magnitude of this immense excavation to truly sink in.

Old Town
Explore the meticulously preserved or restored period buildings within the Old Town area. Each structure tells a unique story, including a church that was built in Europe and shipped to Kimberley, Barney Barnato’s Boxing Academy, the Diggers’ Tavern, authentic digger’s sleeping quarters, and the De Beers railway coach. Immerse yourself in the ambiance of the past and witness the architectural gems that were once part of Kimberley’s vibrant mining community.

A visit to the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum is not only a journey through time but also an opportunity to appreciate the sheer magnitude of human achievement and the captivating allure of diamonds. Delve into the rich history of the region, witness the ingenuity of mining techniques, and gain a newfound appreciation for the role that Kimberley played in shaping the diamond industry.

As you explore the wonders of Benfontein Nature Reserve, take the time to delve into the intriguing history of the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum, and let the stories of the past transport you to a bygone era of adventure and discovery.

McGregor Museum

Nestled near the captivating Benfontein Nature Reserve, the McGregor Museum stands as a testament to Kimberley’s vibrant past and its commitment to advancing ecological and historical knowledge. Established on September 24, 1907, the museum owes its existence to the generosity of Mrs. McGregor, the widow of Alexander McGregor, a former mayor of Kimberley.

Originally known as the Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum, it quickly earned the endearing nickname “the McGregor” and has played a pivotal role in preserving the region’s heritage for over a century. The museum’s establishment was a long-awaited endeavor, as there had been numerous calls for a museum in Kimberley prior to its inception.

Leading the McGregor Museum into its formative years was Miss Maria Wilman, who served as the first director from 1908 to 1947. Miss Wilman’s impressive academic background in Geology, Mineralogy, and Chemistry from Cambridge University, coupled with her keen interest in Botany and Archaeology, laid the foundation for the museum’s multidisciplinary approach.

During her tenure, Miss Wilman made significant contributions to the fields of Botany and Archaeology, publishing notable works that expanded knowledge and understanding in these areas. Her visionary leadership set the stage for the museum’s subsequent growth and achievements.

Over the years, the McGregor Museum has flourished under the guidance of various directors, each leaving their unique imprint on the institution. Through their tireless efforts, the museum has not only preserved the rich heritage of the Northern Cape but has also made important contributions to ecological research and historical documentation.

Visitors to the McGregor Museum can explore its extensive collections, which encompass a diverse range of artifacts, specimens, and exhibits that showcase the region’s cultural, historical, and natural treasures. From archaeological finds to geological wonders, the museum offers a fascinating journey through time, shedding light on the intricate tapestry of the Northern Cape’s past.

Additionally, the McGregor Museum actively engages in research, conservation initiatives, and community outreach programs. Its dedication to advancing ecological knowledge has led to valuable discoveries and a deeper understanding of the region’s unique ecosystems. Through its collaborative efforts with scientists, academics, and local communities, the museum continues to contribute to the preservation and sustainable management of the Northern Cape’s natural heritage.

As you explore the wonders of Benfontein Nature Reserve, take the opportunity to delve into the captivating exhibits and rich history of the McGregor Museum. Immerse yourself in the stories of the past, marvel at the diverse collections, and appreciate the tireless efforts of the museum’s directors and staff in preserving and celebrating the cultural and ecological wealth of the Northern Cape. The McGregor Museum is a testament to the enduring spirit of discovery and the profound impact that dedicated individuals can have on shaping our understanding of the world around us.

Plan your visit to Benfontein Nature Reserve today, and allow yourself to be captivated by its extraordinary beauty and the remarkable creatures that call it home.


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