Ask most people if they’ve heard of Blouberg and you’ll be met with a vacant stare yet this mountain has enchanted me since I was a young boy in the 1960’s. I was at boarding school in the area for my final year of primary school and the towering blue mountain hulking on the distant horizon held a mystical allure for my young imagination.
The Blouberg range is in the far northern Limpopo Province about 10 kilometres west of Vivo, a small town found at the foot of Blouberg’s better-known big brother the Soutpansberg.
The nature reserve encompassing almost 9400 hectares came about when the government was buying farms during the 1970’s to extend the then homeland of Lebowa. Fortunately some visionaries realised the potential of protecting this diverse area for future generations and the nature reserve was proclaimed in the 1980’s.
Although this area is all but unknown as a tourist destination it will most certainly not disappoint the traveler who ventures here. Abundant wildlife, diverse vegetation in a magical landscape, comfortable accommodation, a myriad of birds for the enthusiast and rough trails for the off-road driver will all contribute to a memorable experience.
From the surrounding plains at around 800m above sea level, the Blouberg rises more than a kilometre higher to a highest peak of 2040m and can be seen from a great distance as a hazy blue massif. This big gain in altitude allows for a great variety of plant-life to flourish from arid savannah in the lowlands to high altitude fynbos
The reserve hosts a wide variety of wildlife. Without the need to drive around much, an afternoon sitting quietly at the Buffalo hide is almost guaranteed to produce memorable sightings of game coming to quench their thirst. The rare Sable Antelope is one of the special species likely to be seen.
A major drawcard to Blouberg the massive colony of endangered Cape Vultures breeding on the southern cliffs of the reserve. Thousands of birds make their home here and it is reputedly the largest colony of Vultures found anywhere. But vultures are not the only birds, there are approximately 230 species of birds for the observant enthusiast to tick off.
Pickings at the vulture restaurant at Blouberg attracts these giant birds.
The northern plains are dotted with giant prehistoric baobabs.
In the shady kloofs of the southern slopes the Outeniqua Yellowwood is given official protection.
On the western side of the reserve an enchanting forest of Wild Fig trees create a serene place to sit and relax.
For game viewing there is an extensive network of sandy tracks throughout the reserve. A vehicle with good ground clearance will get visitors to the main attractions such as Buffalo Hide, the Vulture Restaurant, Big Tree, Fig Forest.
The steep rocky trail to the lookout point definitely needs a 4×4 and the trail over Rampanyana’s Nek to the vulture colony is also a recommended 4×4 route. Impressive views in all directions from the viewpoint are worth the effort of getting there. Make sure to bring a chair to sit and enjoy the view. Better still, pack a picnic basket and enjoy a late breakfast on the deck.
There are only five campsites at Blouberg. Each site is spacious, shady and far enough from the next one to give campers a true feeling of being alone in the bush. The camp is unfenced. Giraffe and other wildlife were frequent visitors. There is no electricity at the camp.
The campsite is serviced by a single rustic ablution block. Showers, one open-air and one closed are fed by hot water from a donkey boiler which is lit by the camp attendant daily.
Self catering accommodation is also available. More information and booking enquiries can be found on Blouberg Reserve’s Website.
Seen from the lookout point in Blouberg, the mountains in the distance were to be my next destination: The Soutpansberg.