The Adventures of Komati Gorge

20 July 2015 by Iga Motylska

The Komati Gorge Wildlife Reserve in Mpumalanga is found on Carolina's doorstep. It is renowned for its bird watching, game spotting as well as various adrenaline-pumping and family-friendly outdoor activities.

The sandstone cliffs of the Komati Gorge Wildlife Reserve. Photo credit: Iga Motylska   

There are but a few places in South Africa that can rival a sundowners picnic from atop the golden illuminated sandstone cliffs of the Komati Gorge Wildlife Reserve, as the Komati River carves its way through the valley below and a Cape Vulture circles overhead. The privately-owned Komati Gorge Wildlife Reserve is characteristic of Mpumalanga’s Highveld grasslands, which makes it renowned for bird watching as well as game spotting. Don't forget to take along your binoculars and telephoto lens as more than 130 bird species nest in the region, from the Secretary Bird and ostrich to Rudd's Lark and five species of kingfisher. 

While the four-star accommodation at the Komati Gorge Wildlife Reserve is a peaceful retreat, don't expect to spend too much time inside as there is so much to keep you busy, especially if you love the outdoors. Water activities are a much-loved pastime here, from attempting to catch yellowfish in the river to trout fishing in one of the three dams and canoeing or paddle boating. Those who prefer to unwind by the water's edge can do so in the warm waters of the swimming pool, located at the foot of the gorge, before digging their feet into beach sand, while relaxing on a deck chair beneath the thatched gazebo


  The riverside beach is the ideal place to relax. Photo credit: Iga Motylska


Adrenaline junkies can find their energy fix by rock climbing or abseiling the vertical, sandstone cliff face and there are 19 trail running routes that vary in length and difficulty from 4.2km to 20km. On either of the two hiking trails – the two-hour Ibis or the four-hour Aloe – you'll come across the well-preserved stone ruins of the Bakoni civilisation or 'the forgotten people of Mpumalanga' as they are known. The Bakoni, who ruled over large portions of Mpumalanga's escarpment for 500 years until the early 19th century, built concentric stone-walled enclosures of flat rocks that are balanced one on top of the other. 


You'll find stone circles built by the Bakoni in the surrounding area. Photo credit: Iga Motylska                  


After a day of game watching on either horseback or quad bike, share stories of your sightings with other visitors around the bon fire by the babbling river's banks. Cell phone reception in the gorge is poor, which is the ideal excuse for a digital detox and to remind yourself why you escaped to this tranquil natural setting in the first place.


The Komati Gorge sandstone cliffs overlook the swimming pool, braai area and bonfire. Photo credit: Iga Motylska             


Because the reserve is pet-friendly, you won't have to leave your best friend behind, after all it's only a three-hour drive from Johannesburg and less than two hours from Nelspruit. If you drive from Carolina, along the R36, you'll know you're almost there when you see the sandstone Grobler Bridge – built in 1897 and now a national monument – on your right. Adventure awaits you at Komati Gorge!

Contact Details

Komati Gorge Wildlife Reserve   
Gps: -25°53'37.8924"S, 030°17'00.9564"E,(-25.893859, 30.283599)
Website: www.komatigorge.co.za 
Tel: (017) 843-1497 / (017) 843-3920
Cell: 082-927-1336 / 082-800-7442