Nestled in the heart of the Free State, Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve stands as one of the region’s most accessible and captivating wildlife sanctuaries. Located in the enchanting town of Bethulie, this remarkable reserve is easily reachable from prominent cities like Bloemfontein, Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape, and Springfontein along the N1.
As the name suggests, Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve is blessed with a unique geographical feature—it lies between the convergence of two majestic rivers, the Caledon and Orange Rivers. This harmonious blending of waterways creates a picturesque landscape that forms the backdrop for an unforgettable wildlife experience.
Encompassing an impressive expanse of 22,000 hectares, Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve boasts a diverse array of flora and fauna. Its vast size supports thriving populations of various wildlife species, including springbok, blesbok, red hartebeest, black and blue wildebeest, mountain reedbuck, zebra, and even white rhino. The reserve’s commitment to conservation ensures that visitors can witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat, fostering an appreciation for the importance of protecting our planet’s biodiversity.
For avid hikers and nature enthusiasts, Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve offers an assortment of breathtaking trails to explore during the non-hunting season, which occurs in summer. Among the standout trails is the Klipstapel hike, renowned for its awe-inspiring field of eroded dolerite pillars that grace the route. This natural wonder, located in the heart of the reserve, serves as a testament to the remarkable geological history of the area.
As you embark on the trails, you’ll be captivated by the mesmerizing Karoo splendor and stunning rock formations that surround you. There are three remarkable nature trails to choose from, each offering its own unique charm. The Middelpunt trail spans 7 kilometers, following the meandering banks of the Caledon River. This trail provides a tranquil and accessible hiking experience, allowing you to indulge in the serenity of nature while observing the abundance of birdlife and engaging in refreshing water wading.
For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Klipstapel trail stretches across 12 kilometers, leading you through the reserve’s captivating landscape, punctuated by the remarkable dolerite pillars. This trail promises a truly immersive experience in the wilderness, where the sights, sounds, and scents of nature blend harmoniously.
Lastly, the Orange River trail, spanning 16 kilometers, takes you on a journey through the enchanting Karoo, offering panoramic vistas and the chance to witness the splendor of the Orange River. This trail encapsulates the essence of Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve, showcasing the captivating beauty of the region.
It’s important to note that during the hunting season, which takes place between May and August, the trails are closed to hikers. Winter may not be the ideal time for hiking enthusiasts, but it presents an opportunity for wildlife enthusiasts to engage in responsible hunting practices while contributing to conservation efforts.
Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a novice adventurer, Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve has something to offer everyone. Immerse yourself in the untamed beauty of this remarkable reserve, where the chorus of chirping birds, the rustle of leaves underfoot, and the sight of majestic wildlife will leave an indelible mark on your soul.
In addition to the captivating wildlife and awe-inspiring trails, Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve is also a haven for water birds. Keep an eye out for the elegant blue crane, the graceful grey heron, and the majestic African shelduck as they gracefully glide through the rivers and wetlands of the reserve. These avian beauties add an extra touch of splendor to your journey, making every step a delight for birdwatching enthusiasts.
Popular Activities and Attractions at Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve
Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve is not only a haven for wildlife enthusiasts and hikers but also offers a range of activities and attractions that cater to a diverse range of interests. Whether you’re seeking cultural experiences, historical sites, or unique natural wonders, this region has something for everyone.
Immerse yourself in the history and heritage of the region by visiting the Bethulie Museum. Located in the charming town of Bethulie, the museum showcases artifacts, photographs, and exhibits that provide insights into the area’s past. Learn about the early settlement, the impact of the Anglo-Boer War, and the cultural heritage of the local community.
Just a short distance from Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve lies the Gariep Dam, the largest dam in South Africa and a must-visit attraction in the area. Enjoy water-based activities such as boating, fishing, and sailing on the expansive reservoir. The dam also offers scenic picnic spots and breathtaking views, making it an ideal place for relaxation and recreation.
Bethulie Nature Reserve
If you’re looking to explore more of the region’s natural beauty, head to the Bethulie Nature Reserve. Located near the town, this reserve showcases diverse flora and fauna, including antelope species, birdlife, and unique plant species. Take a leisurely stroll along the walking trails, enjoy birdwatching, and soak in the tranquility of the reserve’s serene surroundings.
Bethulie Concentration Camp Cemetery
For history enthusiasts, a visit to the Bethulie Concentration Camp Cemetery is a poignant and educational experience. This site serves as a memorial to the women and children who tragically lost their lives in the concentration camps during the Anglo-Boer War. Pay your respects and reflect on this somber chapter in South Africa’s history.
Embark on a scenic drive along the Gariep Route, a road that winds its way through picturesque landscapes, charming towns, and historic sites. Explore quaint towns like Philippolis and Springfontein, known for their architectural charm and historical significance. Along the route, you’ll also encounter unique geological formations, rolling hills, and open plains, offering endless opportunities for photography and appreciation of the natural splendor.
Orange River Wine Route
Wine lovers can indulge in a delightful experience by exploring the Orange River Wine Route. This scenic route takes you through vineyards and wineries that produce exceptional wines. Sample a variety of award-winning wines, take guided tours of the vineyards, and learn about the winemaking process. The route offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, culinary delights, and wine tasting experiences.
Xhariep Dam Nature Reserve
Located a short distance from Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve, the Xhariep Dam Nature Reserve is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. This pristine reserve offers opportunities for fishing, birdwatching, and wildlife sightings. Explore the walking trails, enjoy a picnic surrounded by nature, or try your hand at angling in the tranquil waters of the dam.
Pellissier House Museum
Step into the past and delve into the captivating history of the surrounding area at Pellissier House Museum. Originally the home of Reverend J.P. Pellisier, a French missionary, this historic museum provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the bygone era. Nestled in the charming town of Bethulie in the Free State, a visit to this museum is like taking a journey through time.
Dating back to 1843, Pellissier House stands as a testament to the enduring architectural beauty of the past. As you wander through the corridors and rooms of this old house, you can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia and wonder. The museum offers an authentic experience, allowing you to envision life as it was centuries ago.
Inside, a treasure trove of artifacts awaits. The original furniture, photo galleries, clothing, war relics, farm implements, and even vintage vehicles transport you back in time, providing a tangible connection to the past. The collection on display showcases the rich history of the area, with a particular focus on the missionaries who made a significant impact in Bethulie. Through the exhibitions, you’ll gain a deep appreciation for their dedication and the enduring legacy they left behind.
One of the highlights of Pellissier House Museum is its exploration of the history of Bethulie itself. The town’s past unfolds before your eyes, revealing stories of triumphs, challenges, and the resilient spirit of its inhabitants. As you delve into the exhibits, you’ll gain insight into the diverse aspects of the town’s heritage, painting a vivid picture of its evolution over the years.
Beyond the intriguing artifacts and historical narratives, the museum itself is a captivating attraction. Pellissier House is the oldest surviving settler building in the Free State, making it a true architectural gem. The preservation of this historic structure allows visitors to appreciate the craftsmanship and design of the era.
A visit to Pellissier House Museum offers a unique opportunity to step into the footsteps of those who came before us, to gain a deeper understanding of the community and events that shaped the region. The museum serves as a window into the past, offering a rich and immersive experience for visitors of all ages.
While exploring the Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve and its surroundings, a visit to Pellissier House Museum is an essential addition to your itinerary. It’s a chance to discover the stories, traditions, and cultural heritage that have woven the fabric of this remarkable area. Prepare to be captivated by the tales that unfold within the walls of this historic house, leaving with a newfound appreciation for the depth of history that resides in the Free State.
Karoo Gariep Conservancy
Immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the Karoo Gariep Conservancy, a haven of diverse ecosystems and captivating landscapes. The name “Karoo” originates from the “quenna” word meaning “dry and hard,” perfectly describing the arid and rugged character of this region. “Gariep,” also a “quenna” word, translates to “big water” or river, highlighting the significance of the waterways that flow through this remarkable area. Located on the dry and hard side of the Gariep River, the conservancy offers a unique and authentic experience of the Karoo, one of South Africa’s most distinctive biomes.
Night drives in the Karoo Gariep Conservancy unveil a hidden world, where elusive creatures such as aardvarks, bat-eared foxes, and aardwolves dominate the nocturnal landscape. Exploring the wilderness after dark adds an element of mystery and excitement to your adventure.
One of the reasons for the popularity of the Karoo Gariep Conservancy is its convenient location along the N1 route, making it a favored stopover for travelers journeying between Cape Town and Johannesburg. Its geographical position at the halfway point between these two major cities makes it an ideal place to rest, rejuvenate, and immerse oneself in the beauty of the Karoo.
The conservancy, founded in 2005 by P.C. Ferreira, spans an impressive 12,000 hectares and aims to reintroduce big game to the Karoo while promoting sustainable tourism. It is home to the only hippos in the Karoo, as they were reintroduced after being extinct in this area for over 200 years. P.C. Ferreira’s dedication to conservation earned him the prestigious Kudu award from the South African Parks Board, recognizing his invaluable contribution to preserving South Africa’s natural heritage.
The diverse habitats within the Karoo Gariep Conservancy provide a home to a wide range of wildlife and birdlife. Efforts are underway to prioritize the reintroduction of species such as White Rhino and Cape buffalo, enriching the ecosystem and offering visitors a chance to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural environment. Bird enthusiasts will be enthralled by the abundance of avian species, with the Blue Crane, South Africa’s national bird, gracing the skies in large numbers from July to August. Special care and protection are provided to these magnificent birds, and their presence adds a touch of enchantment to the conservancy.
The Karoo Gariep Conservancy boasts pristine, unpolluted skies, making it a haven for stargazers. The clear nights offer breathtaking opportunities to marvel at the constellations and celestial wonders above. The Karoo is also a paradise for birdwatchers, as the region supports an unexpectedly diverse array of bird species. Unique birds like clapper larks, Ludwig’s bustards, blue korhaans, and Burchell’s coursers capture the attention of avid birders, adding an extra layer of fascination to the Karoo experience.
For the health-conscious and adventurous visitors, the crisp mornings of the Karoo provide an ideal setting for outdoor activities. With approximately 100 kilometers of mountain biking trails spread across the 12,000-hectare conservancy, cycling enthusiasts can traverse the rugged terrain, immersing themselves in the untamed beauty of the Karoo. Exploring the conservancy on a mountain bike allows for a more intimate and immersive encounter with the captivating landscapes and unique flora and fauna that define this extraordinary region.
The Karoo Gariep Conservancy offers an authentic and awe-inspiring encounter with the raw beauty of nature. With its captivating wildlife, remarkable birdlife, stunning stargazing opportunities, and thrilling outdoor activities, this conservation area promises an unforgettable experience for nature enthusiasts, adventurers, and those seeking solace in the embrace of pristine wilderness. Embark on a journey to the heart of the Karoo Gariep Conservancy and discover the secrets and wonders that lie within its vast and untamed landscapes.
Oviston Nature Reserve
Nestled near the charming Karoo town of Oviston and Venterstad, just a two-hour drive from Bloemfontein, lies the captivating Oviston Nature Reserve. This pristine reserve offers a haven of natural beauty and wildlife, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in the serenity of the Karoo landscape.
The Oviston Nature Reserve boasts an abundant array of game, including springbok, red hartebeest, mountain zebra, ostrich, black wildebeest, gemsbok, and reedbuck. As you explore the reserve, you’ll have the opportunity to witness these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.
While the Karoo region is known for its scorching summer days, Oviston Nature Reserve offers a unique balance. Alongside the intense heat, you’ll experience crisp, cool evenings and be treated to extraordinary sunsets. The vast expanse of wide-open grasslands, scattered “koppies” (small hills), and an endless sky create a picturesque backdrop that will leave you in awe.
One of the most remarkable aspects of Oviston is the profound sense of calm and tranquility that envelops the reserve. With relatively few visitors, especially during weekdays, you’ll find yourself immersed in a world of peaceful solitude, providing the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Located on the southern side of the Gariep Dam, also known as Lake Gariep, Oviston Nature Reserve spans an impressive 16,000 hectares. The reserve is home to a diverse range of plains game, including ostriches, springbuck, zebras, oryx, and hartebeest. As you explore the reserve, keep your eyes peeled for these magnificent creatures roaming freely in their natural habitat.
Oviston Reserve is one of three nature reserves that border the Gariep Dam, showcasing the area’s commitment to preserving its natural heritage. The Gariep Dam, stretching over 100 kilometers in length and 15 kilometers in width, provides a haven for water sports enthusiasts. However, in Oviston, you’ll find an additional range of activities to enjoy. From the comfort of your car, you can embark on game drives and witness the beauty of the wildlife up close. The reserve also offers walking trails, including an overnight hike, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the breathtaking scenery. Birdwatching enthusiasts will delight in the diverse avian species that call Oviston home, while fishing enthusiasts can cast their lines into the tranquil waters of the dam.
The establishment of Oviston Nature Reserve had a twofold purpose: to preserve the unique False Upper Karoo vegetation and to support a breeding program aimed at maintaining healthy herds of various buck species for relocation to other sanctuaries. The reserve’s commitment to conservation ensures the preservation of the region’s biodiversity and offers visitors a chance to appreciate the wonders of nature in its purest form.
A visit to Oviston Nature Reserve promises a rejuvenating escape into the tranquility of the Karoo. With its stunning landscapes, abundant wildlife, and a myriad of outdoor activities, this reserve provides an ideal getaway for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat. Immerse yourself in the beauty of Oviston and create unforgettable memories amidst the splendor of the Karoo wilderness.
As you explore the attractions and activities in and near Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve, you’ll discover a region rich in natural wonders, historical significance, and cultural heritage. From immersing yourself in the history of Bethulie to embarking on scenic drives and enjoying the pleasures of the Gariep Dam, every moment will be filled with exploration and adventure. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, cultural experiences, or outdoor activities, this captivating region offers a tapestry of delights for all who visit.
With its accessibility, diverse wildlife, and enchanting trails, Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve invites you to embark on an unforgettable adventure. Whether you’re seeking an immersive hiking experience or a chance to witness the wonders of nature, this remarkable sanctuary in the Free State will leave you with lasting memories and a renewed appreciation for the beauty of our natural world.