Spread over more than 8 800 hectares of malaria-free unspoiled bushveld, Mabalingwe Game Reserve is situated in the majestic Waterberg Mountains 28km west of Bela Bela, Limpopo. With only a 2-hour drive from Johannesburg, Gauteng, it is the ideal weekend getaway for family and friends alike.
Mabalingwe is known for its beautiful Big Five, and with its rich biodiversity and abundance of wildlife, magnificent sunsets, and starry nights, nature is left to be itself. The peace and tranquility of the bushveld is to be enjoyed, embraced and to be remembered.
With different accommodation options and adventurous activities to choose from, you are sure to be entertained and left in awe with all nature has to offer.
The hospitality of our staff combined with the wonders of the wild, will ensure you leave Mabalingwe with unforgettable memories and the realization that you had the opportunity to form part of Mabalingwe’s legacy in conserving Africa’s wildlife.
A dream that started off as a maize and cattle farm of just over 2 133 ha named Boschpoort, bought by Willem Petrus Wessels in 1972, situated below the beautiful Waterberg Mountain range just west of Bela Bela, later became the internationally well-known Mabalingwe, famous for its Big Five game.
1972 - 1986
Boschpoort remained a maize and cattle farm and at this time a Brahman stud was established.
Basie Wessels, the son of W.P. Wessels, moved to the farm Boschpoort and assisted in the development of resorts in the area including Dikhololo Resort and Mabula Lodge.
Basie applied for development rights for Boschpoort at the then-known Transvaal Provincial Administration and the application was approved early in 1988. It was Basie’s vision to create a reserve where the spirit of Africa could be captured by giving guests.
The first project was launched in July when the first timeshare chalets, the W.P. Wessels dam, and the recreational area was built. Later that year the main gate was built, and the Mabalingwe share block scheme’s first members meeting was held.
Mabalingwe opened for occupation for the first time early in that year and developed at a fast pace to keep up with the time share sales. In the same year hippos, buffalo, white rhinos, and sable antelope were introduced to the reserve.
All the chalets in Ingwe camp were built.
The development of Kubu Camp, Phiri camp, and Kwalata camp followed.
Hannes Wessels, an architect and now business owner, developer, and game farmer by profession, moved back to the Reserve and continued to develop Mabalingwe alongside his father. In that year they submitted their application to register sectional title schemes in Mabalingwe and it was approved in 1997.
a Herd of elephants was rescued from the Kruger National Park and brought to Mabalingwe.
the farm Olievenfontein was bought from the owners of Bonwa Phala and now forms part of the fourth sectional title scheme on which the Mabalingwe Caravan Park is situated.
The Caravan Park opened its gates for the first time.
The Caravan Park received an award as one of the top 10 caravan parks in the country. At the time a buffalo breeding project was started in Hoedspruit where disease-free buffalo from the Kruger bloodline were bred and introduced to the reserve in 2002.
Mabalingwe Caravan Park was awarded the best caravan park in the country. Lions were also introduced to Mabalingwe for the first time and slowly but surely the reserve grew to more than 40 different mammal species and 220 bird species.
Mabalingwe Country Club, now known as Zebula, opened its doors. It was developed by Dale Hayes, Steve Dunn, Hannes Wessels and Dr Dirk Snyman. For a number of years Zebula formed part of the greater Mabalingwe, expanding the reserve to over 12 000 ha, but now it operates as a separate entity.
In April Basie Wessels tragically died in a gyrocopter crash on Mabalingwe along with a young female photographer who was filming for the African Travel Channel.
TO BELA BELA
Mabalingwe is one of the larger reserves in the area and had a tremendous impact on the tourism industry in the late 1990’s to early 2000’s. Mabalingwe and other resorts like Forever Resorts, drew a lot of attention to Bela Bela, making it one of the top tourist destinations in South Africa, stimulating the growth of the town. Hannes Wessels served on the tourism board from 1998 – 2006 and in this time not only Mabalingwe, but also Bela Bela, was marketed at almost every tourism trade and travel show and expo in South Africa. This included the Travel Indaba show and the Getaway Expo.
Mabalingwe created a lot of job opportunities for residents of Bela Bela and also sponsored various events in the local community including schools and the famous Warmbad Sonskynfees. Donations were made to various institutions and businesses in Bela Bela, and overall Mabalingwe formed an integral part of the Bela Bela community.
The reserve hosted events like the Mabalingwe Lion Man Mountain bike race which at most hosted 3000 cyclists. This not only filled accommodation at Mabalingwe, but also to surrounding reserves and resorts.
The Wessels family is still involved in the management of Mabalingwe, with the fourth generation residing and working on the reserve with a vision to not only restore Mabalingwe to its former glory, but to take it to new heights with the focus on conservation and sustainable tourism.
Over the last 20 years Mabalingwe continued to grow, new companies were established, and there are more stakeholders involved than ever before. This makes Mabalingwe not only the beautiful reserve we know today, but also an investment, a retirement, an escape, a home, and to many of us, a way of life. Being 34 years old, Mabalingwe is a household name in the tourism and estate living industry and the diversity of accommodation, commercial activities, wildlife and conservation projects, caters for every nature enthusiast and tourist. Mabalingwe is a way of life, come live your dream.