Nthubu Camp

The place: Masebe Nature Reserve, along the Klein Mogalakwena River

The people: BaPedi

Co-operative: Nthubu Tourism Primary Co-oiperative

Beneficiary Villages: Magaga Matala, Moshuka, Mathekga, Dipere, Skrikfotein, Monare

Best known for: Secluded beauty, hiking, mountain biking, plains game, rock art

At the northeastern end of the Waterberg lies Nthubu Camp, bordering the Klein Mogalakwena River, home to a variety of plains game and site of impressive sandstone cliffs housing San/Bushman rock art. Perfect for a few days of peace, safe strolls with the absence of malaria and predator encounters, and camaraderie around the boma overlooking the river. From camp guests can explore the 4,500-hectare Masebe Reserve, a stunning savannah biosphere that is home to, among others, sable, kudu, tsessebe, giraffe, zebra, blue wildebeest, waterbuck, nyala, eland, duiker, baboon, spotted hyena and leopard.

Five safari tents on elevated wooden decks are sheltered by a wide variety of trees; mine stood under a giant clustered fig. Each tent has two three-quarter beds, towels and linen, an en suite toilet, hand basin and bucket shower. The communal kitchen near the boma has a gas hob, refrigerator, freezer and necessary cutlery, crockery and pots. The dining area is on a covered, elevated deck outside the kitchen, and the boma/fire pit just beyond that. Guests should bring their own firewood, and are advised to bring their own bottled water as local water does not appeal to everyone. Paraffin and solar lanterns illuminate the camp at night.

Hiking/walking – Many kilometres of trails and tracks around camp and further into the Masebe Reserve will bring you up close to a wide variety of plains game, birds and easily navigated, scenic terrain. I encountered several impala herds flashing off into the bush on my morning meander; some mysterious holes, once the foundation of termite mounds and now inhabited by, perhaps, meerkat; and white dung from a hyena who’d chomped some bones recently. Sandstone cliffs present more of a strenuous challenge for the more ambitious.

Self-drives – A high-clearance vehicle is recommended, as the roads around Masebe are quite rough. But self-drive is possible around the reserve, even without 4X4.

Mountain Biking – At present there’s a 15-km road loop for biking in the reserve; bike trails are being developed.

Rock Art – Two rock art sites near camp house paintings by the San/Bushmen, Khoikhoi and Northern Sotho. We visited the dramatic platform site, so named due to the steep iron staircase one must ascend to a viewing platform. There on the angled sandstone rock face are lovely, delicate San paintings of elephant and trance dances, as well as a rare ochre rhino – with overlays of Northern Sotho paintings of buck and giraffe.