Bela Bela IS BEST KNOWN FOR its beautiful malaria free bushveld surrounds and sub-tropical climate that averages 286 sunny days per year and for the fantastic game and Big 5 experiences that are on offer. The Bela Bela area is also renowned as a great golfing destination and is home to some of the best golf courses in the country convenienly located for vistors from Johannesburg and Gauteng’s major cities.
Previously known as Warmbaths, Bela Bela is Northern Sotho for “Boiling-Boiling” which is synonymous with the town’s world-renowned hot water springs with hot water bubbling out of the earth at approximately 22,000 liters per hour at a temperature of 53°C.
Put on your bush gear and hiking boots, get on a horse, quad bike or a safari vehicle GET YOUR PICTURE TAKEN AT amongst your favourite animals.
THE BEST best game and wildlife PICTURES CAN BE TAKEN right here at Botsebotse Bush Retreat where a Private Nature Reserve area of 1,600 ha offers you the opportunity to do your own game drives, game walks and cycle safaris and to snap over 300 bird species and 600 head of game that roams freely at close range. With no predatory animals, the animals are extremely relaxed, use to people and will be happy to pose for you!
OTHER HAPPY SNAPS AT can be taken at one of the Big 5 Private Game Reserves such as the Mabula Private Game Reserve where we could book you on a guided horseback safari for a photo with their rhinos or hippos in the background or you could opt for a snap taken from the air while on airballoon safari. For the extremely adventurous, this might be right up your alley. The local skydiving club offers skydives and tandem skydives assisted by experienced instructors for all levels of skydivers, from zero to hero, and they will make you a a DVD of your skydive that you could show to all your friends.
WHEN THE WEATHER’S GOOD, I LIKE TO I love to watch our spectacular sunrises over a freshly brewed cup of coffee, go for a game outing and chill with a book outdoors in the shade or next to the pool for full enjoyment of our glorious sunshine. In my opinion nothing beats a balmy bushveld evening with dinner next to a roaring fire under an amazing clear starlit sky and with the cries of jackals in the distance.
WHEN THE WEATHER’S BAD, I LIKE TO I like to enjoy the amazing display of thunderbolt lightning in a vast open sky with rain pelting the earth. And then after the thrill of all that, the earthy clean smell of a refreshed bushveld and the boistorous behaviour of the animals.
I THINK THE BEST TIME OF YEAR TO VISIT IS all year round, BECAUSE each season brings it own joys. In summer there are all the new animal arrivals and in winter our area offers welcome respite from the extreme Highveld cold.
MY FAVOURITE BREAKFAST SPOT IS spot is at the Bela Bela Waterfront where you can sit on the decks next to the water while enjoying a hearty bushveld “breakfeast” at the number of restaurants that you will find there.
FOR LUNCH, I SUGGEST the Ocean Basket, also at the Waterfront, responsible for the best Ocean Basket fare that I have ever had, and with no ocean in sight!
MY FAVOURITE RESTAURANT IS L’Orange Bleue, situated in Thaba Pitse Nature Reserve on the Alma Road leading out of town. Awarded “Best Restaurant in Limpopo”, a Bibendum by Michelin guide NEOS and four stars in the 2003 edition of Magazine’s Top 100 South African restaurants, it was also selected by BBC Food as being one of the best Restaurants of South Africa. The restaurant is housed in a rebuilt farmhouse and the food is simplicity at its very best.
BEST LATE NIGHT SNACK, which you would seldom need, because we are a hospitable bunch and it would be an absolute town scandal if you were not properly fed, would be at one of the many take-outs that the town offers. Density wise we probaly have the most take-aways that I have ever seen for a town of this size. Unfortunately no late night fine-dining I am afraid.
MY FAVOURITE SPOT IS the Strawberry Kaya just 2 km outside Bela Bela on the Thabazimbi Road where you can buy all sorts of nik naks, delicious home made fare, jams and freshly baked bread. Enjoy homemade ginger beer or lemonade accompanied by delicious cake in the quaint rustic coffee shop prepared by Lesley and her daughter Tammy both top trained chefs who could also make all your wedding dreams come true.
MY FAVOURITE SHOP IS Peet’s Road Stall, 3 km’s further down the road from Strawberry Khaya. With a salvaged yellow school bus at the entrance, you cannot miss it. Here you will find beautifully crafted woodwork and furniture pieces, curios, jams, gifts, plants, confectionery, wire crafts and perhaps even a kitchen sink
FOR A NIGHT OUT ON THE TOWN TRY and IF YOU WANT TO MEET LOCALS, try Mango Night Club in town with a DJ, dance floor as well as a separate shooter bar for patrons who want to get straight to the point. There are a few lounge seats and some tables outside. If your interests lean more towards meeting a game or cattle farmer that might be rich, then visit the Lala Palm Pub on your way back from the Strawberry Khaya. No late night action however I am afraid, those farms need their early attention.
Bela Bela’s BEST KEPT SECRET IS is the Bela Bela Boat Club. The boat club is situated on the town’s main dam on the Alma Road. Nestling between imposing cliffs, the campsite and boat club offers locals and visitors a breathtaking spot for boating or simply relaxing alongside the calm water. Day visitors are welcome between 07h00 and 19h30.
MY FAVOURITE THING TO DO WITH FRIENDS IS to visit one of the many coffee shops for a relaxed cup of coffee or tea and a bit of girl talk. You could try the Ladies Suitcase about 3 km outside town on the road towards Modimolle. It is open from 09h00 to 17h00 and you could exchange your old books here and browse through the arts and crafts items for sale.
FOR SOME LOCAL CULTURE, I LIKE TO GO TO visit to the authentic Pedi Cultural Village at Entabeni Safari Conservancy where you can gain a glimpse into the lives, celebrations and traditions of the Pedi people over four periods of their history aligned with the archeological and anthropological heritage of the area. For a gourmet experience with a difference, you could join a dinner party with authentic Pedi dishes on the menu, such as bogobe (mealie pap) cooked on open fires on the earthen floor of the village’s central lapa, maize kernels, chicken feet and mopani worms from calabash shells. Traditional Pedi dancers will entertain you and drumming is part of the dinnertime ritual to celebrate and share the end of a day in the Bushveld with those closest to you.
TO RELAX AND RESTORE MY SOUL, I LIKE TO visit the Shakama Spa on the Alma Road, set in a gourgeous spot with a jacuzzi overlooking a dam with the girls doting on you. Remember to first check on the condition of the dirt roads before you set of in your BMW.
MY FAVOURITE HIKE IS the Green Flag Weiland Bush Trail situated on the R516 Bela Bela road. This beautiful 2-day trail in a pristine Bushveld environment, runs over mountains, through gorges with huge indigenous trees and criss cross the Blinkwaterspruit. The comfortable tented base camp is only reachable by 4×4 vehicle. The observant hiker will encounter a lot of game eg. Kudu and Klipspringer. The camp consists of a kitchen with crockery, flush toilets, showers and hot water boiled in a donkey.
MY FAVOURITE golf WATCHING SPOT IS spot is from the deck of the Elements Golf Clubhouse, watching the superb 18-hole PGA Championship Golf Course and its magnificent mountain setting. Elements golf course was ranked number 9 in Golf Digest 2008, Top Ten 100 Golf Course Awards and can be reached via the Alma Road or a 10 km back road that runs from the Zebula reserve in which we are situated. Zebula offers another stunning golf course option with animals often frequenting the fairways to observe you in action.
IF YOU’RE HERE IN May, JOIN IN THE FUN AT the Bela Bela Lion Man Mountain Bike Race will take you through the rolling hills of the Big 5, Mabalingwe Game Reserve. Choose between the 35 km race (recommended for younger cyclists and families) or the 80 km race for more experienced cyclists. The Bela Bela Lion Man Mountain Bike Race is the only race of its kind where the full race takes place within the boundaries of a Big 5 Reserve. Bring your whole family, we will keep them entertained while you are out enjoying the race.
MY FAVOURITE MUSEUM IS the Melkrivier School Complex, a beautifully restored farm school of the 1930’s. The complex is home to the Waterberg Biosphere Museum that offers fascinating information on the cultural history of the area, the Rhino Museum devoted to the conservation of rhinoceros, an Art Gallery, the Wayside pub, restaurant and tea garden that serves as the veritable oasis for the area.
TRAVELLING WITH CHILDREN? A FUN OUTING : Consider the 2-hour guided tour walk at Bambelela Wildlife Care Farm, where they can learn all about the Vervet Monkeys, one of SA’s five indigenous primates. Bambelela Wild Life Care Farm is a self-funding, non-profitable wildlife care farm 20km outside of Bela Bela and takes injured, orphaned or wild animals that are brought to them for nursing and rehabilitation.
BEST CHEAP AND CHEERFUL OUTING would be a day trail option on the Stamvrug Hiking Trail in the Bataleur Nature Reserve, which in turn forms part of the UNESCO proclaimed Waterberg Biosphere Reserve. There are several trail options available to the hiker, from half-day trails to a two day backpacking trail. The trail runs through the mountains that skirt the basin in which the Bateleur Nature Reserve is situated. Along the trail there is opportunities for swimming, especially during the summer.
WHEN MONEY’S NO OBJECT, I LIKE TO treat my friends at the L’Orange Bleue restaurant.
THE MOST UNUSUAL THING I SEE IN THE AREA ARE the white lions that were rescued by Thandeka. Happily settled at Thandeka and no longer caged, you can book their guided Big 4 game drive that includes cheetahs but no elephants and off course view their magnificent white lion and his lionesses. Truely exceptional specimens!.
MY FAVOURITE WEEKEND GETAWAY IS is to take a drive with my 4×4 here on the back roads at Zebula into the foothills of the Waterberg. I am always struck by how untouched and wild it still is out here and how game and wildlife are still part of the natural landscape.
WHEN I WANT TO GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY, I like to assist the local Bela Bela township orphanage, e.g by booking them a table at the Bela Bela Tourism annual “A Night under a 1,000 Stars” event to provide them with a netwotking platform to promote their orphanage and to create awareness for their cause and their needs.
Another worthy cause that I like to promote is the work done at the Bambelela Wildlife Care Farm. You could help by becoming a “Guardian Angel” to an orphaned vervet monkey baby as a passive care giver. Guardian Angels can give their monkey a name, have free visiting rights and get monthly updates and photos e-mailed to them.
I Love Bela Bela BECAUSE there is so much to do and we have a wonderful community!
Useful Bela Bela Links
- Bela Bela Attractions
- Bela Bela Accommodation
- Bela Bela Guest Houses
- Waterberg Accommodation
- Limpopo Accommodation
- Limpopo Hotels & Lodges
Mabula Private Game Reserve: +27 (0)21 794-9050
Bela Bela Waterfront: +27 (0)14 736-3694
Ocean Basket Bela Bela: +27 (0)14 736-3760
Strawberry Kaya: +27 (0)14 736-4307
Peet’s Road Stall: +27 (0)71 699-2543
Bela Bela Boat Club: +27 (0)14 736-4090
Entabeni Safari Conservancy: +27 (0)14 743-6000
Shakama Spa: +27 (0)12 460-6679
Weiland Bush Trails: (0)12 347-2951
Elements Golf Club: +27 (0)82 490-4735
Zebula Golf Club: +27 (0)14 734-7700
Bambelela Wildlife Care Farm: +27(0)14 736-4090
Thandeka Lodge: +27 (0)76 062-1199