The Waterberg is an escarpment of massive sandstone buttresses and outcrops, incorporating many rivers, streams and wetlands, stretching for 150 km in a long arc from Thabazimbi in the West, past Modimolle to Mokopane in the east. It encompasses some 14,500 sq km of mountain ranges and undulating plateau’s and is an area of magnificent landscape, with breath-taking scenery. The Waterberg contains pristine habitats, abundant bird and wildlife and has a natural unspoilt beauty.



The Waterberg has many special and unique characteristics which is why UNESCO approved the area for biosphere reserve status in 2001. This status gives creditability and marketability, and elevates biosphere reserves to an international level of importance. It also highlights the area for taking action against environmental and social problems.


  • 90% of the area is under conservation management or maintains a natural quality to the landscape.
  • The Waterberg has remarkable wilderness quality, with vast open vistas with no signs of people for as far as the eye can see.
  • The area lacks any significant mining, industries or forestry allowing the scenic beauty of the area to remain intact.
  • The area has a historically low population density and therefore is free of much development infrastructure, such as roads and power lines.
  • The area has superb bird-life, fantastic wildlife, and a rich variety of plants and an amazing array of reptiles, amphibians and insects.
  • The Waterberg contains many rare and endangered species; at least 18 threatened species of plants, 11 bird species, 4 reptile species, 4 species of fish, 2 butterfly species, and 18 mammals making it an important species conservation area.
  • The Waterberg has a high abundance of African Savanna species including the Big Five, that attracts international tourists, and game species that have value within the wildlife industry, both of which supports the local economy.
  • The Waterberg is also a critical conservation area for; wild dogs, with the last free roaming pack in South Africa; black and white rhino, with the third largest population within South Africa; and the Cape Vulture, with the largest colony of 800 breeding pairs found on the cliffs of Marakele National Park.
  • There are important historical and cultural sites and the area boasts a rich archaeological heritage including San rock art scattered throughout the Waterberg.
  • The complexity of the topography with curved and folded sandstone buttresses, inselbergs, deep ravines, sandy plateaus’ and gently sloped hills allows for a rich diversity of habitats that supports the biodiversity. With seven main habitats in the area two are vulnerable and one is endangered.
  • Although many think the Waterberg indicates abundant water, the name reflects the seasonal nature of the area. Summer rains bring many springs and streams creating the illusion of plentiful water. These feed into four main drainage rivers that eventually lead into the Limpopo River Basin. The Waterberg provides a critical water catchment area and its conservation value (wetland and river biodiversity) and the importance to people within the region, (in this water scarce province) cannot be understated.
  • The area is unique due to its geological formations and represents a bio-physical region found nowhere else in South Africa. A fascinating feature of the rocky hillsides is the abundance of plants related to the Cape Fynbos kingdom found hundreds of kilometres away in the Western Cape.
  • The status of rivers, however, have been classified as either vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered (South Africa’s National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan of 2005) indicating the pressures they are under. All river and wetland systems in the Waterberg need a high conservation priority if they are to continue providing the area with water.
  • The Waterberg is the southernmost extent for the Baobab, Anaboom and Paperbark false thorn, while it is the northernmost extent for the Sugar Bush and Broad-leaved Yellow-wood.


• Conflicting land uses, with the most sensitive areas being under greatest threat

• Fragmented conservation efforts leading to the potential for further fragmentation

• Impoverished rural communities with limited skills and resources

• High levels of unemployment, particularly among the youth

• Development pressures

• Illegal prospecting and mining

• The presence of a high proportion of leisure properties with limited employment provision

• Alien invasive species

• Vulnerability of riverine systems, loss of wetlands and illegal sand mining

• Wildlife poaching (rhino, pangolin, lion and elephants)

• Air pollution from power stations

• Land use planning guidelines that are not enforced

• Limited legal protection and a need for biosphere planning to be integrated into other spatial plans



Office: +27 71 160 6446

Mobile: +27 78 7960699



209 Corner Sandrift Road and Waterberg Street, Vaalwater, 0530





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The Waterberg is an escarpment of massive sandstone buttresses and outcrops, incorporating many rivers, streams and wetlands, stretching for 150 km in a long arc from Thabazimbi in the West, past Modimolle to Mokopane in the east.

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