Polokwane Game Reserve, Limpopo
Bordering the city of Polokwane in Limpopo, the Polokwane Game Reserve is possibly one of the finest on which to cut your teeth if you’re new to the pursuit of game viewing mainly because of its proximity to Johannesburg - it’s roughly three hours’ drive - but also because its size is such that one can view quite a bit within an afternoon.
One of the biggest municipal-owned game reserves in South Africa, the Polokwane Game Reserve’s main attraction must be the amount of ground one can cover on foot - there are a number of walks, including a one-day 20 kilometre hiking trail with overnight accommodation. Even more exciting are the frequent sightings of white rhino and other game - 21 species in all.
One of the most important aspects of the Polokwane Game Reserve is that it conserves the Pietersburg Plateau false grassland, one of the only remaining examples of an extremely localised vegetation type that is home to important indigenous birds like the short-clawed lark, the ashy tit and the Kalahari scrub-robin.
This habitat is characterised by open savannah and almost entirely dominated by themeda grass with the odd smattering of acacia trees. Because most of the Pietersburg Plateau false grassland has been transformed by agriculture, the only enduring examples are found in and around the Polokwane Nature Reserve.
The climate here is superb and the addition of a rather exciting aloe forest on the northern slope of a low ridge makes the Polokwane Nature Reserve an exciting park in which to walk - make sure that you set off early morning to beat the heat.