South Africa (Mpumalanga, Limpopo) – Mozambique
There are at least three Olifants Rivers in South Africa – in the Western Cape, the Southern Cape and the one originating in Mpumalanga. That’s the one we’re really interested in: it flows north through Witbank Dam and Loskop Dam and is forced east by the Transvaal Drakensberg. Cutting through at the Abel Erasmus Pass to flow east, joining the Letaba River, the Olifants crosses into Mozambique to become the Rio dos Elefantes. It flows into the Shingwedzi and the Limpopo River before entering the Indian Ocean at Xai-Xai, north of Maputo.
On its course, the Olifants River traverses some of the most industralized mining areas, but also some of the most scenic and well-developed touristic areas of South Africa; Witbank and Loskop Dams are popular week-end and holiday destinations offering a variety of watersport activities.
Loskop Dam Nature Reserve covers approximately 22 850 ha, which includes about 2 350 ha surface area of the dam. The reserve surrounds the Loskop Dam reservoir, 55 km north of Middelburg. The topography of the reserve is extremely hilly with deeply carved drainage lines leading to the valley bottoms. A variety of woodland covers the hillsides. On warmer north facing slopes Red Bushwillow, Large-fruited Bushwillow and Hornpod Tree are among the common species. On south-facing hillsides trees are smaller and more widely space with Common Sugarbush and Common Hookthorn dominating. Large Transvaal Beech, with their furrowed bark giving an ancient appearance, occur at the base of the south facing hillsides, while elegant wild Syringa form an open woodland on flat country and footslopes. A complexity of grass species grow among the trees in this bushveld landscape which turns from the verdant green of the wet summer months, to a tantalizing mix of copper and gold as leaves begin to fall in autumn. Principal game species include white rhino, hippo, crocodile, buffalo, and fine herds of plains antelope species. The presence of the dam means that there is ample water throughout the year offering excellent wildlife photo opportunities. Birdlife is both varied and abundant due to the transitional nature of the highveld and sourveld habitats.
The Blyde-Olifants Conservancy (BOC) aims to establish, through its membership of privately owned game farms, a 17,000 hectare big game reserve with the potential to grow over time to in excess of 21,000 hectares. The imperative behind the establishment of the reserve is to increase the range of small privately owned farms by removing the internal boundary fences between them to develop a larger, more biodiverse and genetically viable game conservation reserve.
The Olifants Camp is situated on top of a hill which towers several hundred feet over the Olifants River, offering stunning views from the lookout platforms to the river below. The area plays host to most of the Kruger National Park’s classic larger game. Elephant are common in the area, baboon and vervet monkey both inhabit the camp, as do fruit bats and thick-tailed bush babies. Lion and leopard are regularly seen on game drives. Cape clawless otter has been seen from the Olifants lookout point on the gravel road to Letaba.
Location (from 25° 53′ 29″ S, 29° 18′ 19″ E to 24° 6′ 45″ S, 32° 38′ 21″ E)
View Olifants River in a larger map
The Imbambala Wilderness Trails Camp is situated in a secluded area within the Loskop Nature Reserve. Access to the camp is via a scenic 30 minute boat ride from which various game species and aquatic life can be viewed. Daily safe game viewing walks are provided ensuring close encounters with wildlife as diverse as the majestic White Rhino to the mystical Sable Antelope and Kudu.
Forever Resort Loskopdam is surrounded by a mountain range and nature reserve which is home to the white rhino, leopard, crocodile and hippo. The many actitivies include birdwatching, excellent fishing opportunities & game viewing on horseback, quad bike and boat.