Hans Merensky Nature Reserve, Limpopo
On the banks of the Great Letaba River lies the Hans Merensky Nature Reserve, just west of the Kruger National Park and not far from Tzaneen. The main draw card to this beautiful reserve is the fact that you can walk most of it on foot, and despite its apparent flatness, there is the welcome relief of distinctive little mopane and combretun trees, amongst others, and a range of low dolerite ridges along the eastern boundary of the reserve called the Black Hills.
The presence of the river on one side of the Hans Merensky Nature Reserve means that there is a rich and varied bird-life, even in winter, and evenings produce some really special sightings of nightjars and owls. Exciting hiking trails include the Mopane Interpretive Trail, which is only about a kilometre long, the Letaba Trail along the River - great for birding - and the Giraffe trail, which is a 3-day, 32 kilometre hike with overnights in luxury huts.
There is a game-viewing self-drive that winds through the reserve, and you can hope to see a number of antelope, zebra, wildebeest, warthog and giraffe, or the more elusive nocturnal animals like leopard, jackal and hyena. Along the route is a wonderful lookout point that offers fantastic views of the Hans Merensky Reserve and serves as a great picnic spot.
Snakes are common in the Hans Merensky Nature Reserve, and its advisable not to get too close to them, although most of them are harmless and will avoid you long before you are even aware of them. If youre particularly worried, then opt for the guided game drives in the mornings and at sunset, but youll need to book a day in advance. There is also a mountain bike trail and horse rides, should you be short of things to do.