Expert Reviews – Weenen GR
Lizzie is a reputed guidebook writer and author of the Footprint guides to South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
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A pleasant bush drive in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands
The small Weenen Game Reserve covers an area of typical inland KwaZulu Natal acacia grassland, and the distant blue peaks of the Drakensberg make a pleasant backdrop. Weenen is an excellent example of how a severely degraded habitat can be successfully rehabilitated – it’s hard to believe this natural-looking place was once overgrazed farmland. It has a fair amount of common species of game; warthog, giraffe and zebra are usually quickly seen from the circuit road and numerous antelope to look out for include eland, kudu and red hartebeest. Rhino are far more elusive though; preferring their hideaways in the thickets, but birdwatchers will enjoy the bird hides overlooking the dams and may spot blue crane; South Africa’s national bird. It’s not a standalone reserve, don’t make a special effort to get here, but Weenan is a good place to enjoy a short game drive and perhaps a picnic.
Ariadne is a renowned African wildlife photographer whose work is featured in many well-known guidebooks and magazines.
Being in the bush in Weenen Game Reserve
My recent visit to Weenen Game Reserve was slightly disappointing. The small park only has a very short driving circuit. I completed the same circuit several times, but didn’t see much except from some giraffe in the distance, warthogs and a few eland. After that I settled down in a hide overlooking a very scenic waterhole. Although it was in the middle of the dry season, the only animals that came to drink during the 4 hours I waited were a warthog and one waterbuck. I did enjoy the numerous terrapins swimming around the hide. A sign asking not to feed the terrapins made me realize, they were begging for food. Although rather featureless, the pristine looking “Valley Bushveld” dominated by acacia species, is my favourite vegetation and conjures up an immediate feeling of ‘being in the bush’. Birding tends to be good in this environment as well.