The Waterberg Biosphere: a hidden treasure of South African Heritage

Waterberg Biosphere

In 2001, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designated the Waterberg area of South Africa as a recognised Biosphere Reserve. Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, our home, is located in the heart of this Biosphere. Read more about the significance of this area in South Africa’s heritage in our special heritage day blog below.

The UNESCO Waterberg Biosphere Reserve is a 6,500 square kilometre (650,000 hectare) paradise named after the water-rich nature that the low mountain ranges and escarpments produce in an otherwise arid region.

As one of three major mountain ranges in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, the Waterberg Mountain Range also contributes to a major water catchment area of the Limpopo Basin.

The unique nature of the mountainous region, coupled with the water-rich soil, produces an abundance of flora and fauna that are endemic to this region. According to UNESCO, the Waterberg’s rich biodiversity is evident with the presence of more than 5,500 species of plants, of which 43% are endemic to South Africa.

The region is also home to at least 18 threatened plant species, 18 mammal species 11 bird species, 4 reptile species, 4 species of fish, and one butterfly species that are all deemed of the utmost importance for biodiversity conservation.

From a socioeconomic perspective, the region is equally rich and unique. The Waterberg has been inhabited over hundreds and thousands of years and is home to one of the most important San rock art areas in South Africa. Today, more than 80,000 people live in the Biosphere Reserve.

The ideology of a Biosphere Reserve is to preserve both the socioeconomic and environmental distinctiveness of the Waterberg region, helping to strike a balance between the pressures of economic development, the need to generate direct benefits to the local communities, and the conservation of the area’s natural resources.

As tourism is the primary source of income in the region, the Waterberg Biosphere Reserve Committee—an organisation set up after a five year consultation process with all stakeholders concerned—is tasked with ensuring that the needs of all stakeholders are dealt with in an equitable manner.

Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway is privileged to contribute to the innovative conservation of the UNESCO Waterberg Biosphere through Welgevonden Private Game Reserve’s pioneering conservation model.

The Clifftop Exclusive Safari Hideaway is a member of Extraordinary – A Collection of Luxury lodges and hotels in Southern Africa.

Through industry-leading, innovative conservation management, Welgevonden itself is home to more than 65 mammal species, including the famous Big Five, cheetah, brown hyena, caracal, aardwolf, and over 300 different bird species.

Located just two and a half hours away on road, or a mere 45-minute by flight, from Johannesburg, the UNESCO Waterberg Biosphere’s accessibility and malaria-free status make it one of the finest places to watch wildlife, soak in the wilderness, and experience a hidden gem of South African heritage.

As South Africans around the country are waiting with abated breath for the next opportunity to travel, we encourage everyone to explore the hidden treasures of our exceptional country.

At Clifftop, we believe that successful ecotourism must generate sustainable outcomes for the environment, for the surrounding communities, and for our commercial viability at every stage of our guest experience.

We reaffirm our commitment to creating an exceptional experience that will generate sustainable benefits for the local community, for tourism, and for the conservation of our country’s inimitable heritage.

Happy Heritage Day!

The Clifftop Team


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About us

Actually, Home Food and Travel offers a lot more than just reviews of accommodation, restaurants, spas and adventure activities.  We also visit great destinations, receive advice from interior designers and stop to smell the roses and taste the coffee.

Our team of journalists are seasoned travels and love visiting the myriad of exciting places around South Africa.  Whether it is off the beaten track or in the heart of the top attractions of the country, we’ll be there,

Home Food and Travel advice on finding the right accommodation

So what is the right accommodation?  Well more often than not, it’s your travel budget that dictates the type of accommodation that you choose. 

Expensive is not always better.  Our team at Home Food and Travel will tell you that they have camped in areas with limited ablutions and had a wonderful holiday.  They have also spent a night in a five star hotel only to be disappointed because their expectations exceeded the experience.

The reason for your travels will also affect your choice.  A business trip requires different amenities to a beach holiday. 

Our articles, reviews and experiences can certainly help you make your decision.

Restaurants with a good mix of service, food and ambiance

To my mind a great restaurant offers three things – excellent service, great food and a wonderful ambiance.  Of these, service is the most important. 

No matter that the food is delicious and the setting delightful, poor service can ruin the occasion.  However, great service combined with mediocre meal and a plane jane restaurant can still be a pleasant night out.

We’ve eaten in restaurants that are really dirty but with incredible food and couldn’t help but give a rave review.  We’ve also hardly noticed what we ate because the setting was just amazing.

However, the best restaurants come with the best of service, food and ambiance.

Spas are the ultimate relaxation aid

How do you know when you have had a great spa experience?  The answer, of course, is when you doze off on the treatment table. 

Well that’s our theory anyway.  It also doesn’t take a grand location with enormous facilities for a spa to be really good

A small, personal spa that is owner run can result in the best massage you have ever experienced.  However, the grand spas in five star hotels offer unsurpassed facilities in an environment that just makes the stress in your shoulders and neck melt away before you even finish checking in.


You don’t have to be an adrenaline junky to enjoy an exciting experience.  In fact, what are commonly termed adventure activities usually have incredibly high safety standards and unblemished safety records.

Ziplining, bungy jumping and shark cage diving are all very safe.  It’s just that our mind tells us we are craaazzzzyyyy to be doing this.

On the road to great places of accommodation, restaurants, spas and adventure activities

If you’re driving, be safe and make use of all the wonderful farm stalls that populate South Africa’s open roads.

If you overhear somebody asking a lot of questions or see someone taking photos of empty bedrooms chances are it’s one of our Home Food and Travel team members.

We’re out looking or those great places of accommodation, restaurants, spas and adventure activities.

See you on the road!


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