- Hans Merensky Nature Reserve
Proclaimed a nature reserve in 1953 the reserve has played an important role as a breeding area for sable and giraffe and as such has helped to stock other reserves in the province. You can walk most of it on foot, and despite its apparent flatness, there is the welcome relief of distinctive little mopane and combretun trees amongst others, and a range of low dolerite ridges along the eastern boundary of the reserve called The Black Hills.
In a small marshy area within the reserve a thermal spring bubbles to the surface at 104°C. This has long been used by locals as a source of salt and medicinal treatment, especially for sufferers of rheumatism. Today the spring feeds into an open-air swimming pool for all to enjoy.
Also within the Hans Merensky Nature Reserve is the Tsonga Kraal Museum, highlighting Tsonga culture through its arts, crafts and traditional huts.
The river on one side of the Hans Merensky Nature Reserve attracts a rich and varied collection of bird life even in winter, and evenings produce some really special sightings. Winters are best for game viewing, as the bush dies back.
Three exciting hiking trails include the Mopane Interpretive Trail, which is only about a kilometre long, the Letaba Trail along the River, where crocodile may be found basking in the sun while hippo relax in the quiet pools and is great for birding and the Giraffe trail, which is a 3-day, 32 km hike with overnighting in luxury huts. There are also mountain bike trails and horse riding.
A game-viewing self-drive that winds through the reserve may reward you with sightings of antelope, zebra, wildebeest, warthog and giraffe, or the more elusive nocturnal animals like leopard, jackal and hyena. A wonderful lookout point and picnic spot offers fantastic views of the Hans Merensky Reserve.
Snakes are common in the Hans Merensky Nature Reserve, although most of them are harmless and will avoid you long before you are even aware of them.
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