Limpopo Tourist AttractionsTurfloop Nature Reserve
Where? Polokwane, Limpopo, South Africa
How? Call +27 (0)15 293-3611
Lying due west of the University of Limpopo's Turfloop campus, just east of Polokwane, is the provincially administered Turfloop Nature Reserve (sometimes also called a game reserve).
Named after the Turfloop township outside Polokwane, it centres around a body of water known as the Turfloop Dam – the original reason for the formation of the reserve was to protect the reservoir and its wetlands.
The under resourced and anonymous little reserve does not make it onto the average visitor's list for the region, and admittedly it is a little down at heel with roads overgrown with grass, little to no facilities, and a rather vague turn-off the R71, opposite a couple of general dealer stores.
However, despite this obscurity, Turfloop is surprisingly worth a visit. Placed in the shade by the Kruger National Park it might be, but it has several rather unique arguments for visiting.
Firstly, it has rich cultural ties. The reserve abundant in Mamabolo mountain bushveld, peppered with immense granite outcrops that are a feature of the landscape, lies on the communal land of the people of the village of Mambolo. There is also a rock art site, the Mankweng Rock Art Site, associated with the Turfloop Dam.
Secondly, the reserve is a peaceful and relaxed environment in which to spot game – giraffe, wildebeest, impalas and ostrich are easily spotted - away from the crowds of the Kruger National Park.
And finally Turfloop is a birding mecca that protects a breeding site for the nothernmost population of the southern bald ibis. The levels of the Turfloop dam tend to fluctuate, depending on rainfall in the area. As a result the birds change with the season.
The shoreline of the dam exposes mudflats during summer where you might spot the odd wader, but also more common wetland birds like ducks, teals, shovelers and grebes. There is a rocky island on the dam that serves as a breeding site for the white-breasted cormorant, black-headed heron, African sacred ibis, African spoonbill and yellow-billed egret.
Expect to pay an entry fee.