The Waterberg Area

The Waterberg is a large natural area in Limpopo Province of roughly 14 500 square kilometers. The Waterberg mountains, which surround a vast inner plateau, were created by the weathering of shale and sandstone beds laid down 1,8 billion years ago, when the area was a system of great rivers and inland lakes. The conglomerate rock (below) which can be found in Waterberg hillsides today was formed from the sedimenting of eroded pebbles and rocks in these ancient rivers.Today the area is fed by 4 large rivers as well as many other smaller ones and has many water catchment sites.

The diversity of habitats of the Waterberg region made it an Eden for wildlife; glimpses of this are seen in the rock art of the first human inhabitants of the area, the San Bushmen. The latter moved away, possibly after the area was settled by Sotho-speaking tribes, and later by Ndebele, fleeing from the upheaval in Zululand. Both peoples left the remains of their Late Iron Age stonewalled sites, pottery and iron smelting activities in many areas of the Waterberg.

During the 19th century the area was regarded by white settlers as a "theatre of manly adventure" since its wildlife, particularly the elephants, provided a paradise for adventurers and ivory hunters. It was the field laboratory of Eugene Marais, storyteller, and morphine addict. Marais studied baboon troops in the Waterberg and wrote "The Soul of the Ape", which is regarded as the first scientific study of animal behaviour.

Hunting and farming activities depleted the wildlife of the Waterburg, but today large species such as elephant, rhino, and lion are being returned, as the area becomes one of the most important conservation and wildlife tourism areas in the country.