Wildlife Sanctuaries and Game Lodges

ID #3788

Willem Pretorius Game Reserve, Ventersburg, Northern Free State.

The oldest nature reserve in the Free State. Two of the Big5 can be seen on this reserve of 12000-Ha, which is divided by the Sand River and the Allemanskraal Dam.  Doringberg and Bekkersberg shape the hilly and densely vegetated northern part of the reserve, providing a habitat suitable for baboon, mountain reedbuck, kudu and duiker.  Huge white stinkwood and karee trees adorn the shady kloofs, which abound with many bird species such as Natal francolin, Rameron pigeon and fairy flycatcher. On the southern side, eland, blesbok, springbok, black wildebeest and Burchell’s zebra roam the open plains while white rhino and buffalo occur throughout the reserve. The reserve boasts having the largest black wildebeest population in existence and was instrumental in saving the species from extinction. One of the largest herds of foot-and-mouth and corridor disease-free buffalo occurs in the reserve. It also contains the largest population of white rhino in the Free State. Other game includes sable, roan and klipspringer.  The plains are also home to many birds such as the whitequilled (black) and blue korhaans, Orange River francolin, ant-eating chat and several species of lark.  Reptiles are well represented in the reserve, and include leopard tortoise, leguaan (monitor lizards), scarce sungazers (ouvolk) and various snakes and lizards.  Poisonous snakes include the puffadder, rinkhals and Cape cobra. The reserve lies in the mixed grasslands of the highveld, with trees and shrubs against hillsides and in the kloofs. Red grass (Themeda triandra) and turpentine grass (Cymbopogon plurinodis) are the dominant grass species, while weeping love grass, wire grass, finger grass and three-awn grasses are abundant.  Trees include white stinkwood, taaibos, wild currant, karee, buffalo thorn, blue bush, wild olive, bastard olive, bush guarri and highveld cabbage tree.

Ghoya huts on the northern ridge are reminders of early Sotho groups. The ruins are on the high-lying areas of the reserve and on the slopes of the Doringberg and Bekkersberg.  One has been restored and is now a national monument. It has not been possible to establish when they moved into the Free State but it is thought to have been between 1450 and 1700.  Extensive villages were built on the higher ridges, the main feature being a corbelled hut.  They were built entirely of untrimmed stone.  The small size and narrow entrances to the huts suggest that they were small, but this was not the case.  They were small due to the simple construction methods used and the narrow entrance allowed better protection against marauding lions and leopard. They were polygamous, and each wife had her own hut with a “lelapa” or courtyard. Although more exposed to wind and further from permanent ware sources, they were built on hills to allow for better observation of approaching danger. They were virtually exterminated in 1836 when more aggressive nations moved through the area.

Accommodation and facilities:

• Five 4-bed and five 5-bed chalets
• Fully equipped bush camp, with toilets, showers and a communal kitchen, stove and fridge, and braai facilities. Located in natural surroundings in the Donkerkloof and  sleeps sixteen
• Group quarters
• Single quarters
• Lapa with catering on request
• Caravan park
• Modern conference centre


• Game viewing and birding
• Angling competitons
• Water sports including waterskiing, winsurfing and paragliding
• Sundowner cruises on the dam
• Tennis, swimming pool
• Restaurant and curio shop at the Education Centre offers a la carte, menu and takeaways.

Ventersburg is on the north of Bloemfontein, which is at the intersection of the N1 with the N6 and the N8. Travel south from Ventersburg on the N1. Turn east towards the reserve gate after crossing the Sand River. BCWillem

Contct:   Tourism Officer
Willem Pretorius Game Reserve Education Centre
Private Bag X7 Ventersburg 9450
+27 (57) 651 4003 telephone
+27 (57) 651 4005 fax


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Last update: 2014-05-15 23:14
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.1

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