If you’re looking for an African bushveld experience just three hours’ drive from Johannesburg, look no further than Touchstone Game Farm. This natural heritage site is located in the northwestern section of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, a privately owned nature conservancy spanning 100,000 hectares dedicated to preserving the delicate ecosystem and natural heritage of the area.
As part of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, Touchstone Game Farm provides visitors with access to the Big 5: lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo, all in a malaria-free environment. But that’s not all – Touchstone is also home to the world’s only herd of black impala, a rare and beautiful species. In fact, 90 species of game can be found roaming throughout this part of the Waterberg Mountain region.
The Waterberg Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO identified reserve, one of only four in the country. It was also the first region in northern South Africa to be named a biosphere reserve. As the only “savanna” reserve of its kind in southern Africa, the Waterberg’s incredible rock formations have been shaped by millions of years of riverine erosion, and archaeological finds here date back to the Stone Age.
Conveniently located for visitors from Gauteng and surrounding regions, trips to the Waterberg are becoming increasingly popular for those seeking a wildlife and nature experience without the risk of malaria. In addition to the incredible game viewing opportunities, the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, including Touchstone Game Farm, is committed to conservation efforts to protect the delicate ecosystem and preserve the natural heritage of the area.
Popular activities and tourist destinations at Touchstone Game Farm
In addition to the incredible game viewing opportunities, there are a variety of activities and points of interest to explore in and around Touchstone Game Farm.
One popular activity is guided nature walks, which allow visitors to experience the flora and fauna of the area up close and personal. Expert guides are available to lead visitors through the beautiful landscape, pointing out interesting plants, birds, and other wildlife along the way.
For those seeking a more adventurous experience, Touchstone Game Farm also offers guided mountain bike tours, horseback riding, and even hot air balloon safaris. From the sky, visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve and its diverse ecosystem.
Another popular attraction near Touchstone Game Farm is the Welgevonden Game Reserve, a large wildlife reserve located just a short drive away. Here, visitors can enjoy game drives and guided bush walks while spotting some of Africa’s most iconic wildlife species, including elephants, lions, leopards, and rhinos.
For those interested in history and culture, there are several archaeological sites nearby that provide a glimpse into the region’s past. One notable site is the Makapansgat Caves, which contain evidence of early human activity dating back to the Stone Age.
Visitors can also explore nearby towns like Vaalwater, which offer a range of local dining and shopping experiences. The town is known for its vibrant markets, where visitors can find handmade crafts, local produce, and other unique souvenirs.
Touchstone Game Farm and the surrounding area offer a diverse range of activities and attractions for visitors of all ages and interests. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural immersion, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful corner of South Africa.
Horizon Adventures Horse Riding
For those who love horses and horsemanship, Touchstone Game Farm is home to Horizon Horseback Adventures, a premier riding vacation destination for riders of all abilities. With a herd of over 80 horses, Horizon can cater to both novice and experienced riders, making it the perfect destination for families whose children enjoy riding.
Located in the beautiful Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, Horizon Horseback Adventures offers one of the most varied and exciting horse riding vacations in the world. The portfolio includes rides organized to suit each client and special options for family vacations. The emphasis is on horses and horsemanship, but the relaxed atmosphere at Horizon also ensures that guests feel at home.
Horizon Horseback Safaris operates on some of the Waterberg’s most prestigious private reserves and offers guests the opportunity to encounter African wildlife on horseback. The horse riding safaris provide quality game viewing and exhilarating encounters with three of Africa’s Big Five.
At Horizon, the care and quality of the horses is a top priority. The herd comprises Anglo-Arabs, Thoroughbreds, Boerperds, and crossbreeds ranging in size from 14.1 to 17.2 hands. All the horses are honest, forward-going, and highly responsive, ensuring that guests have an unforgettable riding experience.
Horizon Horseback Adventures is run by Shane and Laura, aided by a friendly and enthusiastic team chosen for their love of life, horses, and people. Together, they create one of the most welcoming and relaxed riding destinations in Africa.
Aside from horse riding, Touchstone Game Farm and the surrounding area offer a variety of other activities and attractions. Guided nature walks, guided mountain bike tours, and hot air balloon safaris are available for those seeking adventure. The Welgevonden Game Reserve and its incredible wildlife can be enjoyed through game drives and guided bush walks.
For those interested in history and culture, the Makapansgat Caves provide a glimpse into the region’s past. Visitors can also explore nearby towns like Vaalwater, known for its vibrant markets offering handmade crafts, local produce, and other unique souvenirs.
Whether you’re seeking a horse riding adventure or a range of other activities and attractions, Touchstone Game Farm and its surrounding area offer an unforgettable experience for visitors of all ages and interests.
Bush Stop Café
While visiting the Touchstone Game Farm, be sure to take a trip to the nearby town of Vaalwater and visit the Bush Stop Café. This quaint café is the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day of wildlife sightings and outdoor activities.
Located in the heart of Vaalwater, the Bush Stop Café offers a peaceful and shaded garden where you can enjoy a delicious cappuccino or indulge in their selection of wholesome and freshly prepared meals. The café is known for its fantastic breakfasts, as well as its freshly prepared lunches, including a variety of salads made from their own herb garden.
The Bush Stop Café is committed to using local ingredients wherever possible, so you can be assured that you are supporting the local community while enjoying a delicious meal. In addition to the food, the café also offers a variety of refreshments, including freshly squeezed juices and smoothies.
Whether you’re looking to grab a quick bite to eat or just want to relax and soak up the peaceful atmosphere, the Bush Stop Café is the perfect place to do so. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to enjoy great food and hospitality during your stay at Touchstone Game Farm.
Savannah Horse Trails
One of the many exciting activities that visitors can enjoy during their stay at Touchstone Game Farm is horse riding with Savannah Horse Trails. Kololo Game Reserve, which is just a 15-minute drive from Touchstone, has partnered with Savannah to offer guests an unforgettable horse riding experience in the stunning Waterberg Mountains.
Riding safaris with Savannah Horse Trails allow guests to explore the region’s diverse landscape of open savannah plains, river valleys, and rocky escarpments with panoramic views while observing African wildlife up close. Experienced riders can enjoy exhilarating riding at different paces, while novice riders can take things at a more leisurely pace.
Savannah Horse Trails is run by Carla Lucassen, an experienced equestrian and licensed field guide who leads each trail personally. Groups are kept small, with no more than four riders at a time, ensuring a personalized experience tailored to the interests and abilities of the group. Carla’s knowledge of the local ecology means that riders can also learn about the flora and fauna they encounter during the trail.
After a day of horse riding, guests can retire to the luxurious Kololo Game Reserve lodge, which offers comfortable accommodation where only safe wildlife roams free. The reserve is situated in the heart of the Waterberg biosphere and borders the Big 5 Welgevonden Game Reserve, making it an ideal location for guests who want to experience both the thrill of wildlife encounters and the comfort of a luxury lodge.
For visitors who prefer to stay closer to Touchstone Game Farm, the nearby town of Vaalwater offers the Bush Stop Café, a great place to relax and enjoy a cappuccino in the peaceful garden. The café prides itself on using locally sourced ingredients wherever possible to prepare healthy and freshly made meals.
Kamotsogo Craft Art
For those looking for unique and authentic souvenirs to bring back home, Kamotsogo Craft Art is a must-visit destination. The craft shop is located just a short drive away from Touchstone Game Farm in Vaalwater. Kamotsogo Craft Art offers visitors the chance to purchase handcrafted products made by skilled artisans in the local community.
Established in 2006 as an empowerment project of The Clive Walker Foundation, Kamotsogo Craft Art is a social investment plan that creates employment opportunities and empowers women through the production, marketing, and sales of handcrafted products. The craft shop offers a wide range of products, including pottery, baskets, beadwork, and textiles, all with a contemporary African flair.
Craft is seen as an important means for unemployed people to learn skills and enter into the world of mainstream tourism and enterprise development. Kamotsogo Craft Art aims to contribute to the local community by empowering and teaching them skills that will endure and provide them with an income source.
Visiting Kamotsogo Craft Art not only provides an opportunity to purchase unique, handmade souvenirs but also to support a worthy cause and contribute to the local community.
The Waterberg Meander is a must-visit destination for any traveler looking to explore the beauty of the Limpopo province. The meander is a self-drive tour of the region that showcases some of the most beautiful and historical sites in the area. Visitors can expect to be enchanted by the exquisite landscape of rolling hills, endless views, and a distinct bushveld feel.
The meander covers a vast area of 8000 sq km, stretching from Marakele National Park in the southwest to Wonderkop nature reserve in the northeast. It also encompasses the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve, which is a unique part of South Africa with its own wild beauty, rich biodiversity, and close encounters with Africa’s charismatic wildlife.
Tourists can explore the region on foot, horseback, or in a vehicle, taking in the beautiful scenery and learning about the cultural and environmental significance of the area. Some of the Waterberg Meander’s prime attractions include game reserves, nature reserves, historical sites, and cultural experiences. There are also plenty of activities to enjoy, such as hiking, bird watching, and game drives.
For a truly unique experience, visitors can take part in a hot air balloon safari over the Waterberg, providing a bird’s eye view of the vast savannah and wildlife below.
So if you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure, make sure to include the Waterberg Meander on your list of places to visit. Whether you’re a nature lover, history buff, or just looking to relax and take in the beauty of the bushveld, there is something for everyone to enjoy in this stunning region of South Africa.
Lindani Game Reserve Mountain Biking
If you’re interested in historical and cultural attractions, be sure to visit the St John Church near Touchstone Game Farm. This stunning stone and thatch building was designed by Sir Herbert Baker, the architect responsible for designing many other glorious buildings such as the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Completed in 1902, the church is still actively used and provides a spiritual sanctuary for the descendants of the early settlers and the local townspeople.
In addition to its stunning architecture, the St John Church is also surrounded by a rich history. Visitors are welcome to explore the church at any time during the week, as well as attend Sunday services which start at 09h30. This is a great opportunity to experience the local community and engage with the friendly locals. If you’re interested in history or architecture, be sure to add the St John Church to your list of must-see attractions in the area.
Mokopane Biodiversity Centre
The Mokopane Biodiversity Centre is a must-visit destination for animal lovers and conservation enthusiasts. Located just over two hours from Pretoria and 40 minutes from Polokwane, this centre is dedicated to breeding, conservation, and research with the aim of preserving precious species from all around the world. The facility is also committed to educating the public about the importance of wildlife conservation and has recreational facilities to make learning fun and informative.
The entire centre covers an area of 1,300 hectares and is part of the National Zoo of Pretoria. It was established in 1981 and has since become a prime destination for visitors who want to learn more about rare and endangered species.
The Mokopane Biodiversity Centre has breeding enclosures for black rhino, tsessebe, lemur, roan antelope, and other rare and endangered species. The game reserve is home to an abundance of wildlife, including giraffes, zebras, wildebeests, and various antelope species. Visitors can explore the reserve on guided tours, game drives, or by walking on designated trails.
The centre also has campsites for visitors who want to spend more time in the wilderness. The campsites are well-equipped and offer a unique opportunity to experience nature up close. The Mokopane Biodiversity Centre is an excellent destination for anyone who wants to learn more about conservation and experience the beauty of nature.
Family Safaris At Ant’s Nest
Located in the Waterberg region of the Limpopo Province of South Africa, Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill family safaris offer visitors an opportunity to explore the untouched wilderness of the area while learning about the local fauna and flora. What sets these lodges apart is their approach to exposing young ones to nature while also involving parents or guardians in the experience.
Children under the age of four can take part in pony rides around the lodge, while older children can enjoy guided pony rides through the countryside. Riding lessons are also available for those looking to improve their skills. Young visitors can explore the bug and spoor trails designed especially for them, learning how to identify different animals and follow tracks through the bush.
Game drives in open 4×4 vehicles are always a popular adventure, allowing visitors to spot rhinos, giraffes, baboons, jackals, hyenas, caracals, and even the elusive leopards of the Waterberg. Birdwatching is also a popular activity, with an array of birdlife to be found in the area.
Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill have a range of amenities for families to enjoy after a day of safari adventures. These include a swimming pool, trampoline, and games area.
The reserve is home to a breeding herd of the rarely seen sable antelope, which was started in 2001 and has grown to become an impressive sight. With so much to see and do, Ant’s Nest and Ant’s Hill are a perfect choice for families looking to experience the wonders of South Africa’s natural world together.
Accommodation options at Touchstone game farm
Moonriver Mountain Retreat
When it comes to accommodation in and around Touchstone Game Farm, visitors will find a range of options to suit their preferences and budgets. For those who prefer self-catering, Moonriver Mountain Retreat is a highly recommended option in Vaalwater. Situated in the heart of the Waterberg Biosphere of Limpopo, Moonriver Mountain Retreat offers breathtaking views of the valley and the surrounding area.
Guests can choose from three private and spacious chalets, as well as a large thatched three-bedroom house, each boasting fully equipped kitchens. The main lodge, which is open to guests, has a deck and a swimming pool for visitors to enjoy. It is also the only unit serviced during the week and on Saturdays.
Moonriver Mountain Retreat is a self-catering/self-service establishment, and guests are advised to bring their own ice, firewood, and charcoal. It is important to note that there are no restaurants or shops on the premises, and pets are not allowed.
For those who prefer more luxurious accommodation, there are a number of lodges and game reserves in the area that offer full board and a range of amenities, such as spas, game drives, and guided walks. Some of the most popular lodges include Mabula Game Lodge, which is located within a Big 5 game reserve, and Shambala Private Game Reserve, which offers luxurious accommodation and a range of activities, including game drives and hot air balloon safaris.
For visitors who are on a budget, there are also a number of camping and backpacker options in the area. These include campsites in the Marakele National Park, as well as a range of backpacker hostels in the nearby town of Vaalwater.
Izintaba Game Farm
Touchstone Game Farm is a perfect destination for tourists seeking adventure, relaxation, and an unforgettable wildlife experience. When visiting the game farm, there are various accommodation options available in and around the area that cater to different preferences and budgets.
One such accommodation option is the Izintaba Game Farm, which is situated on a private game farm outside of Vaalwater in the Malaria-Free Waterberg Biosphere. This highly recommended Limpopo game lodge offers six luxury, fully equipped self-catering cottages that are perfect for groups of friends or family get-togethers, intimate weddings, romantic bush getaways, or a well-deserved weekend break. Sleeping between four and fourteen people, the lodges overlook typical Waterberg bushveld and offer guests the freedom to enjoy the bush at their own pace, either walking, mountain biking, fishing, birding, or doing a game drive on the 1200ha private game reserve.
The thatched lodges at Izintaba are luxuriously furnished, very comfortable, and vary in size to suit different needs. For instance, the Zebra and Bushbuck Cottages each sleep four people in two en-suite bedrooms, with an open-plan lounge, dining room, and kitchen, while the Duiker Cottage is ideal for guests who want to experience the peace and tranquility of being alone in the bush. The cottage, situated on a small rocky ridge, offers spectacular views of the surrounding bush and mountains from both the covered stoep and the open-plan lounge, kitchen, and dining room. It sleeps four in two bedrooms, one king and one twin, and one bathroom.
Izintaba Lodge, on the other hand, is an exceptional bush home that sleeps ten in three luxurious en-suite bedrooms, two with king-size beds, one twin, and two large bedrooms, both twin, that share an interleading bathroom. Arrangements are flexible to suit each party’s needs, and extra beds are available for extra children. The lodge also features a bar with a pool table and dartboard, a private swimming pool with a thatched lapa for outdoor dining, and a braai area.
All lodges at Izintaba Game Farm are fully equipped for self-catering with all crockery, utensils, bed linen, and towels. They also have a 4-plate electric or gas stove with an oven, microwave, fridge/freezer, fireplace in the lounge, shaded stoep (veranda), shaded carport, and thatched lapa for outdoor dining and a private braai (BBQ) area.
Apart from comfortable accommodation, Izintaba Game Farm also offers various activities that guests can enjoy during their stay. These include game drives, guided or self-guided, bush walks, mountain biking, game viewing, birding, swimming, tree spotting, picnic sites, and photography.
In conclusion, whether you are looking for a luxurious or rustic accommodation option, Izintaba Game Farm is a great choice. It is a perfect base to explore the beautiful Waterberg Biosphere and experience the rich wildlife and culture of the region.
Whether you’re a seasoned safari-goer or a first-time visitor, Touchstone Game Farm in the heart of the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve is a must-see destination. With breathtaking mountain scenery, a diverse range of game species, and a commitment to conservation, it’s an unforgettable African bushveld experience.