Nestled just off the N12, merely 10km north of Kimberley, lies the stunning Dronfield Nature Reserve. Part of the famed De Beers Diamond Route, this reserve offers a range of attractions for nature enthusiasts and families alike.
One of the most significant drawcards of Dronfield is its vulture hide, providing visitors with an up-close look at the impressive white-backed vulture. With a substantial population of these birds in the reserve, it’s easy to see why Dronfield has become a go-to destination for those interested in these magnificent creatures. Over the years, researchers have studied the vultures here, making this reserve an essential location for conservation and education.
Initially purchased by De Beers as a deposition site for the nearby mine, a portion of the land was let for grazing. However, in 2004, the entire 12,000 hectares were proclaimed a nature reserve and stocked with herds of game translocated from Rooipoort Nature Reserve. Today, the reserve is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including eland, gemsbok, blue wildebeest, red hartebeest, zebra, giraffe, white rhino, and kudu.
Aside from game viewing, Dronfield is also a paradise for bird enthusiasts, with over 140 species of birds calling the reserve home, including the African fish eagle and the lilac-breasted roller. Its sister reserve, the Benfontein Nature Reserve, located 26km away, is also a popular birding spot, making Dronfield and its surrounds a must-visit destination for bird watchers.
Dronfield Nature Reserve is a firm favourite among families, who can stay on the game farm and explore other local attractions such as the Big Hole, Magersfontein, the Ghost Trail, William Humphreys Art Gallery, Diggers’ Fountain, and the Sol Plaatje Museum. Whether you’re interested in learning about Kimberley’s fascinating history or simply taking in the beauty of the natural surroundings, Dronfield has something for everyone.
For those looking to expand their birding experience, a visit to nearby Kamfers Dam is a must. This perennial wetland is home to an enormous population of lesser flamingos, making it the biggest flamingo population in southern Africa. With well over 200 bird species to observe, Kamfers Dam is a National Heritage Site and a haven for bird enthusiasts.
Popular activities and tourist attractions at Dronfield Nature Reserve
Dronfield Nature Reserve has a plethora of activities and attractions that cater to a wide range of interests. For those seeking adventure and thrill, the reserve offers guided game drives and bushwalks, providing visitors with an up-close and personal experience with the reserve’s diverse wildlife.
For history buffs, a visit to the Big Hole in nearby Kimberley is a must. Known as the world’s largest hand-dug excavation, the Big Hole is a fascinating look into the diamond mining industry of the 1800s. Visitors can take a tour of the site and learn about the history of diamond mining in South Africa.
Another popular attraction in Kimberley is the William Humphreys Art Gallery, showcasing a diverse collection of art from both local and international artists. Visitors can explore the museum’s exhibits and take part in various educational programs.
The Ghost Trail is another popular attraction for those interested in local history. The trail takes visitors on a journey through the town’s rich history, showcasing various historic buildings and landmarks. Visitors can learn about the town’s pioneers, miners, and other notable figures who helped shape Kimberley’s past.
For those interested in nature and wildlife, the Benfontein Nature Reserve is located just 26km away from Dronfield. This reserve offers visitors a unique opportunity to observe various bird species, including the majestic Verreaux’s eagle, as well as other wildlife such as eland, gemsbok, and red hartebeest.
The Kamfers Dam, located near Kimberley, is another popular destination for nature enthusiasts. The dam is home to over 50,000 lesser flamingos and is considered to be one of the most important breeding sites for the species in southern Africa. Visitors can observe these beautiful birds and learn about their conservation efforts.
The Sol Plaatje Museum in Kimberley is another must-visit destination for history buffs. The museum is dedicated to the life and works of Sol Plaatje, a prominent political activist and writer who played a key role in South Africa’s struggle for freedom and democracy.
Dronfield Nature Reserve and its surrounding areas offer visitors a wide range of activities and attractions, from wildlife and nature experiences to cultural and historical sites. Whether you’re seeking adventure, education, or relaxation, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in and near Dronfield Nature Reserve.
Dronfield Nature Reserve is not just a great place for game drives, hiking and birding but also for horseback safaris. Just 55km from Kimberley, visitors can experience the breathtaking scenery and wildlife of the Green Kalahari area on horseback at the Mattanu Private Game Reserve.
With over 30 different species of animals to be viewed, a horseback safari at Mattanu is a unique and all-encompassing wildlife experience that caters to both novice and expert riders. It is a completely different way to explore the reserve’s wildlife as the African landscape embraces you wholeheartedly and offers a glimpse into the tranquil yet unrelenting world of the reserve’s wildlife.
The horseback safari experience is different from a typical safari as there’s no longer the grind of a Land Cruiser engine under you or the predictable acceleration of a pedal to the floor. You are no longer a mere observer of wildlife, but you truly experience their circle of life on their level. It’s a greener way to explore the wild, and for those who seek sheer immersion in nature with the ultimate adrenaline rush, a horseback safari at Mattanu is the perfect choice.
Visitors can book a 2-hour ride with a stop halfway for a picnic in the bush with a complimentary bottle of champagne for only R1250.00 per person, and a minimum of 2 persons per trip is required. Alternatively, they can book a 1-hour trip followed by breakfast for only R690 per person. Both beginners and advanced riders are welcome, and bookings are essential.
Apart from horseback safaris, visitors to Dronfield Nature Reserve can also explore other tourist attractions and points/places of interest in the surrounding areas such as the Big Hole, Magersfontein, the Ghost Trail, William Humphreys Art Gallery, Diggers’ Fountain, and the Sol Plaatje Museum. They can also head to Kamfers Dam, a nearby wetland that is a National Heritage Site and boasts well over 200 bird species, including the biggest population of flamingos in southern Africa.
Mattanu Private Game Reserve, located just 55km from Kimberley, is a stunning 4700-hectare game reserve owned by the Kriek family. The name “Mattanu” is a Hebrew phrase meaning “gift from above,” and this is reflected in the Kriek family’s desire to share the beauty of God’s creation with everyone.
The reserve was established in 1991 by Dr. JC Kriek, who is considered by many to be a pioneer in the breeding of endangered antelope in Southern Africa. Dr. Kriek imported 95 endangered Roan antelope and 65 rare Sable antelope species into South Africa from Malawi, in what is widely regarded as the most successful game capturing and importation operation ever. Since then, over 300 Roan, Sable, and disease-free buffalo have been bred at Mattanu.
Game drives are a popular activity at Mattanu Private Game Reserve. Visitors can view over 36 different animal species, including many rare and endangered antelope species, by quad bike or on a guided game viewing vehicle tour. The Northern Cape is a very dry province, which means that few diseases exist in the area. This is one of the main reasons why the animals at Mattanu breed so well and why the conservation of all species is so positive.
The Kriek family is personally involved in the day-to-day running of the reserve, and they have a passion for the conservation work they do. The breeding of endangered and rare antelope species is the main industry at Mattanu, and they hold annual auctions for the sale of live wildlife from their state-of-the-art auction and boma facilities.
For those who are looking for a unique experience, bushveld dinner fly-ins, helicopter game viewing, and transportation by helicopter are also available at Mattanu Private Game Reserve. The reserve’s private helicopter was sold in 2019, and they now lease one as required.
In addition to the game drives, Mattanu Private Game Reserve also offers horseback safaris, which provide a completely unique and all-encompassing wildlife safari experience for both novice and expert riders. On horseback, visitors can experience the African landscape and get a glimpse into the tranquil yet unrelenting world of the reserve’s wildlife. A 2-hour ride with a picnic in the bush and a complimentary bottle of champagne is available for R1250.00 per person, while a 1-hour ride followed by breakfast costs R690 per person. Both beginners and advanced riders are welcome, and bookings are essential.
Mattanu Private Game Reserve is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in experiencing the beauty of nature and wildlife in South Africa.
Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum
Dronfield Nature Reserve is located in the city of Kimberley, which is also home to the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum. This major attraction is a must-visit for anyone interested in the city’s diamond mining history. The Big Hole was once a hill that has been transformed into a 215-meter-deep hole, making it the largest hand-dug excavation in the world. The hole has a surface area of 17 hectares and a perimeter of 1.6 km.
Visitors to the Big Hole can now experience what it was like to work in a 19th-century diamond mine with the Underground Mine Experience. The exhibition center showcases photographs, archive material, and original artifacts that tell the story of diamonds from the past to the present. Visitors can also see old jigging machines and grease tables that were specially designed to extract diamonds from ore.
The museum also houses a vault that displays the largest uncut octahedron in the world, named the famous 616, for its carat and size. There is also a viewing platform that offers visitors the chance to see the Big Hole from above, giving a sense of the remarkable scale and grandeur of the site.
In addition to the Big Hole, visitors can explore the Old Town, which features period buildings that have been preserved or restored to their original glory. Among them is a church built in Europe and shipped to Kimberley, Barney Barnato’s Boxing Academy, the Diggers’ Tavern, an authentic digger’s sleeping quarters, and the De Beers railway coach.
The Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum is an excellent place to learn about the city’s diamond mining history and witness the impressive feat of human determination and engineering that created the Big Hole. It is a unique and fascinating experience that visitors to Dronfield Nature Reserve should not miss.
In addition to the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum, visitors to the Dronfield Nature Reserve should also consider visiting the McGregor Museum. Established over a century ago, the McGregor Museum has become a prominent landmark in the city of Kimberley and has contributed greatly to the preservation and understanding of the history and ecology of the Northern Cape.
The museum was founded in 1907, thanks to the generosity of Mrs McGregor, the widow of Alexander McGregor, a former mayor of Kimberley. Originally named the Alexander McGregor Memorial Museum, it has become affectionately known as “the McGregor” and remains a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.
The first director of the museum, Miss Maria Wilman, was appointed in 1908 and held the position until 1947. Wilman was a distinguished scholar who had studied Geology, Mineralogy, Chemistry, Botany, and Archaeology at Cambridge University. She made significant contributions to the study of botany and archaeology, publishing important works on both subjects.
Today, the McGregor Museum continues to be a valuable resource for researchers and visitors alike. It houses a diverse collection of artifacts, including historical and archaeological items, as well as natural history specimens. The museum’s exhibits cover a wide range of topics, from the early history of the region to its rich cultural heritage.
Visitors to the McGregor Museum can also enjoy guided tours and educational programs, which provide a deeper understanding of the region’s history and ecology. The museum’s dedicated staff are committed to preserving and sharing the Northern Cape’s unique heritage and ensuring that future generations can appreciate and learn from it.
In addition to the McGregor Museum and the Big Hole and Kimberley Mine Museum, visitors to the Dronfield Nature Reserve may also want to explore other local attractions, such as the William Humphreys Art Gallery, the Sol Plaatje Museum, and the Kamfers Dam, which is home to a large flamingo population. There are also numerous opportunities for outdoor activities, including hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing.
Belgravia Historic Walk
For history enthusiasts, the historic suburb of Belgravia offers a fascinating walk through Kimberley’s opulent past. The Belgravia Historic Walk takes visitors on a two-kilometre circular walk through 33 of Kimberley’s most historical sites, showcasing the city’s characteristic architecture and lifestyle of bygone days.
One of the main attractions on the walk is the McGregor Museum, officially founded in 1907 and named after Alexander McGregor, a former mayor of Kimberley. The museum features exhibits on natural history, social history, and art, including works by South African photographer Alfred Duggan-Cronin.
Other notable sites on the walk include No. 3 Egerton Road, the Halfway House Inn, and No. 9 Egerton Road, all of which provide a glimpse into Kimberley’s past as a mining town. Visitors can also see the Girls High School, which was established in 1887, and the Christian Brothers’ College, which was founded in 1897.
Belgravia is also home to several memorials, including the Battle of Square Hill Memorial and the Cape Police Memorial. Visitors can pay their respects to the fallen at these sites, which commemorate important moments in Kimberley’s history.
Art lovers will appreciate the Duggan-Cronin Gallery, which houses a collection of photographs and artefacts from southern and central Africa. Meanwhile, nature enthusiasts can enjoy the tranquil surroundings of the Alex Memorial Gardens, named after Alexandra, the wife of King Edward VII.
Finally, the walk takes visitors past several historic homes, including those of Colonel Sir David Harris, one of Kimberley’s wealthiest citizens, and Rudd House, the former home of Cecil John Rhodes’ business partner, Charles Rudd. Visitors can also see the Masonic Temple, the Drill Hall, and several statues, including one of Sister Henrietta Stockdale, a pioneering nurse who fought for better conditions for soldiers during World War I.
Die Pont Restaurant
Die Pont Restaurant is a unique dining experience located in Broadwater, a private River Escape situated on the banks of the Vaal River near Kimberley. The town of Douglas is also nearby, making this location easily accessible to visitors looking for a tranquil retreat.
The restaurant offers more than just delicious food; it provides a breathtaking view of the pristine aquatic environment and an ambiance of solitude and relaxation. Guests can enjoy endless water views, listen to the call of the fish eagle, and take in breathtaking sunsets while sipping champagne under a starry sky.
The restaurant caters to all tastes and offers an A la Carte menu or Set Menu by arrangement. The menu boasts a variety of dishes made from locally sourced ingredients, ensuring a fresh and authentic dining experience. All major credit cards are accepted, making it easy for visitors to pay for their meals.
Die Pont Restaurant is also an ideal venue for functions, weddings, and special occasions. The serene surroundings, combined with excellent service and delicious food, make it an unforgettable setting for any event. Visitors can enjoy their meals in the beautiful indoor dining area or outside on the spacious deck overlooking the river.
Sunset Cruises on DaRiva
In addition to the beautiful Dronfield Nature Reserve, visitors to Kimberley can also enjoy a variety of water-based activities on the nearby Vaal River. One such activity is a sunset cruise on the DaRiva Houseboat, which offers comfortable accommodation and a fully equipped kitchen for a relaxing and enjoyable experience.
The houseboat boasts a spacious top deck with barbecue facilities, and a skipper is on hand to provide assistance and ensure the safety of all guests. The Vaal River is known for its diverse birdlife, and lucky visitors may even spot the “Big Five” of the river: the Otter, African Fish Eagle, Giant Kingfisher, Goliath Heron, and Iguana.
The DaRiva Houseboat offers sunset cruises for up to 70 guests and day cruises for up to 30 guests. Overnight or weekend cruises are also available, with full accommodation for up to 10 guests. Water sport enthusiasts can enjoy activities such as waterskiing, wakeboarding, kneeboarding, and water tubing, with all equipment and a boat provided.
For those seeking more adventure, white water rafting can also be arranged. Bookings for water sports are essential to ensure availability. Whether you are looking for a relaxing river cruise or an action-packed day on the water, the DaRiva Houseboat has something for everyone to enjoy.
If you’re looking for a memorable dining experience in Kimberley, Annabell’s Restaurant is a must-visit. Situated in a modern and chic environment, Annabell’s offers fine dining with excellent service. The restaurant has a warm and inviting atmosphere with elegant decor, clean lines, and beautiful linen. Its leather chairs and padded leather booths offer a comfortable seating plan, while the private enclosed area known as “The Kraal” is perfect for bigger parties.
Annabell’s boasts an impressive wine collection, and their wine list features a wide range of local and international wines. If you prefer to bring your own wine, the restaurant welcomes that too. As for the menu, Annabell’s uses only the highest quality meats and locally-sourced produce to prepare its dishes fresh every day.
And let’s not forget the legendary desserts – a meal at Annabell’s wouldn’t be complete without indulging in one of their sweet treats.
Overall, Annabell’s restaurant is the perfect destination for a special night out or celebration. The restaurant is located in Kimberley, which is a short drive away from Dronfield Nature Reserve. So, after a day of exploring the reserve’s natural beauty, head to Annabell’s for a memorable dining experience.
William Humphreys Art Gallery
The William Humphreys Art Gallery is a must-see attraction in Kimberley. The gallery opened its doors in 1952 and was named after William Benbow Humphreys, who was its principal benefactor. It is located in Kimberley’s Civic Centre and boasts an impressive art collection, which includes 16th and 17th century Dutch and Flemish Old Masters, French and British paintings, antique furniture, and South African works of art. Several items were donated by William Humphreys himself.
The art gallery mainly focuses on collecting works of art from South African artists, serving as a museum of art while also functioning as a centre for educational and cultural activities. Visitors can enjoy temporary exhibitions, art workshops for children, development stimulation classes for pre-school children, craft workshops for unemployed women, lectures, video shows, and concerts.
The gallery also runs a successful outreach programme, in which graphic exhibitions are taken into small towns in the Northern Cape Province to expose students to the world of art. The library is also a valuable resource for students studying art.
If you plan to visit the William Humphreys Art Gallery, guided tours are available on request. After exploring the art collection, visitors can relax at the Palette Tearoom, which is open daily from 10h00 to 16h00, serving light meals and refreshments. The gallery is an excellent destination for art enthusiasts and anyone interested in South Africa’s cultural heritage.
Dronfield Nature Reserve offers visitors a unique and memorable experience. Whether you’re interested in wildlife, birding, or local history, this reserve has something for everyone. So why not plan your next adventure to Dronfield and discover the beauty of this incredible destination for yourself?