Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve, Free State
Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve is one of the most accessible game reserves in the Free State. Situated in Bethuli, you can get there from Bloemfontein, Aliwal North in the Eastern Cape and Springfontein along the N1 and the reserve is exactly as its name suggests - it lies at the confluence or 'between' two rivers, in this case the Caledon and Orange Rivers.
At 22 000 hectares, Tussen die Riviere Game Reserve is big. It consequently supports rather large populations of wildlife such as springbok, blesbok, red hartebeest, black and blue wildebeest, mountain reedbuck, zebra and even white rhino. Three incredible nature trails for hikers make visiting the reserve during summer (the non-hunting season; Tussen die Riviere was developed to cater for the hunter) well worth it. The trails are the Middelpunt trail of 7 kilometres, the Klipstapel trail of 12 kilometres and the Orange River trail, which is 16 kilometres of walking through scenic Karoo splendour and beautiful rock formations.
Obviously winter for hikers is a no-go area because of the hunting season, which takes place between May and August. The consequence is that, despite the beauty and the excitement of the trails, one is exposed to the summer elements of sometimes extreme heat and intermittent thunderstorms – this is a summer rainfall area.
For those inexperienced hikers, Middelpunt hiking trail is probably a good bet as it is physically easy and wanders along the banks of the Caledon River – so plenty of water wading and bird spotting. Water birds include the blue crane, grey heron and African shelduck.
Did you know?
The Klipstapel hike is worth pursuing for the incredible field of eroded dolerite pillars en route, found almost smack bang in the middle of Tussen die Riviere Reserve.