Expert Reviews – Spioenkop GR
Philip is an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the Bradt guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa.
Low-key game viewing in the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg foothills
I would bit recommend this as a wildlife destination per se. There is a good chance of seeing white rhino, giraffe and a long list of antelope (including the endemic blesbok) on the small road circuit through the reserve. It also offers some pretty good birdwatching. But the nicest aspect of Spioenkop is the scenery, comprising a lovely dam surrounded by dense acacia woodland at the base of Southern Africa’s largest mountain range, the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg. It is particularly recommended as a low-key wildlife break to hikers and walkers exploring the uKhahlamba-Drakensberg area, especially on a cold winter’s day, when the mountains themselves may be a rather chilly prospect. If you fall into that category, don’t miss out on the 1-2 hour hiking trail through lakeside hills studded with tree aloes that bloom bright orange in winter.
Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
Spioenkop, a place to relax by the lake
This little park is mostly visited by South Africans for fishing and boating on the dam. There are some barbecue spots around the lake and during holiday time and weekends these are usually all occupied by midday. There is however also a little game drive circuit and there are quite a good number of grazers that can be spotted here. Giraffe, eland and blesbok are common and greater kudu can sometimes be spotted in the thickets. There is a small population of white rhino in the park as well. They often retreat to areas of the park inaccessible to the public, but at dusk you have a good chance of encountering them on their way to drink at the dam. There is a small hiking trail, which is spectacular in early winter when the very abundant tree-sized Aloe marlotii are flowering.