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Situated in a remote area of the Witteberge (white mountains) of the scenic Eastern Free State Highlands of South Africa is a hidden magical place called Thaba Thabo Nature Reserve which is a spectacular 1 500 hectares nature reserve and working farm.

The sandstone mountains offer breathtaking views in every direction…. over the reserve and beyond and including the Maluti mountains in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho. The reserve is renowned for its scenic setting and boasts numerous wildlife species which include eland, black wildebeest, blesbuck, zebra, warthog, mountain reedbuck, red hartebeest, duiker, ostrich, steenbuck, etc.

Many towering sandstone cliffs, fountains and perennial and seasonal streams are found on the reserve.  A waterfall drops into a deep wooded gorge.

There are deep valleys with towering sandstone cliffs, some hidden caves with bushman paintings, seasonal wildflowers as well as seasonal and perennial streams and waterfalls that make hiking on one of four guided trails a wonderful, invigorating pastime.  Guests are also welcome to walk wherever they want on the reserve.

There are ruins of early Sotho huts on the reserve. Some of the huts are corbelled and are believed to be at least 300 years old.

Most of Thaba Thabo is on top of the mountain range with the lowest point being at 1 700 metres above sea level and the highest point at 2 158 metres.  The sandstone-basalt contact is almost exactly at 1 900 metres and forms a convenient altitude reference.

Thaba Thabo has a good rainfall more uniformly distributed throughout the year than that of the rest of the Highveld.  It normally has snowfalls each winter.  Crystals such as agath and crystallite are found in abundance on the ridges.

Biologically it lies in a major ecological transitional zone resulting in a great diversity of habitats (both Drakensberg and Free State High Veld vegetation) and rare plant and animal communities with an affinity for rocky places, water courses and mixed vegetation, e.g. baboon, caracal, serval, genet, jackal, fox, otter, mongoose, dassie, porcupine and many others.

Many mammals on the reserve are nocturnal or crepuscular and are not often seen.

Four dams offer area shelter to an abundance of bird life. There are also many bird species associated with high mountains such as grey-wing francolin, ground woodpecker, stone chat, rock thrush, orange breasted rock jumper, rock kestrel, malachite and great double collared sunbirds, bald ibis, gymnogene and black eagle. Lammergeyer are occasionally seen flying along the edge of the high krantzes.

The large dams offer good carp fishing.

Area Info:

The Eastern Free State, is undoubtedly the core of the Free State province, encapsulating the essence of its diversity.

It is here that the Maluti Mountains meet those of the Drakensberg to form a rugged sandstone backdrop to an area that contains charming towns; despite the distance between them that include Clarens; undulating hills, battle sites, first rate fly fishing, the Golden

Gate Highlands National Park, and the annual Ficksburg cherry festival.  Be sure to visit Fouriesburg, 2013 town of the year.

Resting between the Orange River in the south and the Vaal River in the north, the Eastern Free State (Thabo Mofutsanyana) boasts a rugged and mountainous area in the east that is completely contrary to the Free State image of endless maize fields and dry, blue skies.  These served the Basotho people (people of the peaks) who used the caves and slopes of the Maluti Mountains as hideaways and a means of defence in years gone by.  The valleys, by contrast, are densely vegetated, through which hiking trails effortlessly provide one with breathtaking scenery.  The Golden Gate National Park, the Free State’s only national park, lies in the rolling foothills of the Maluti Mountains, close to Clarens.

The Qwa-Qwa National Park, which merged with Golden Gate Highlands national park, includes the Basotho cultural village and other historical highlights such as the Van Reenen family graveyard.  Some twenty seven farms near Fouriesburg claim instances of Bushman rock art, Tweespruit boasts the Claerhout Art Gallery, Bethlehem, the commercial centre of Thabo Mofutsanyana is also home to the Wolhuterskop Nature Reserve, and November is the time to visit Ficksburg for the famous cherry festival.  Thaba Thabo Private Nature Reserve is renowned for its scenic setting and can serve as a convenient base camp from which to explore the rest of the area.

The charming town Rosendal with its well known theatre was originally a farming town and just across the border from Ficksburg is Lesotho which offers numerous attractions like the Katse Dam and Afri-Ski Resort. 

A feast for the eye, soul and gastronome. Cherry orchards cling to the sides of flat topped sandstone mountains which reflect the different

colours of the sunrise and sunset, as you gently meander along the border between South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

The Southern Highlands are on a main route linking the Cape and Garden Route, to KwaZulu Natal, Gauteng and Mpumalanga (Kruger Park). The Southern Highlands also link South Africa and the mountain kingdom of Lesotho.

Apart from cherries, other deciduous fruit and asparagus thrive in the champaign climate, making spring and early summer a feast of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Many people visit the area especially for its picturesque beauty. But no matter whether you are driving through, en route to somewhere, or just retreating from the rat race for a couple of days, you will be tempted to linger a while longer.

Each season offers its own attractions; roaring, open log fires in winter, cherry blossoms and then the succulent fruit in spring, hot summer days and golden autumn sunsets.

The entire region borders the scenic mountain kingdom of Lesotho, which is known for its majestic beauty, simplicity and serenity.

The Southern Highlands is the land of a thousand pictures.


It is important to note that we do not provide equipment for any of the activities. Guests are required to bring their own equipment.

There are four loop-trails starting and ending at the base camp. The trails have been designed for hikers of all abilities and to include as many natural features as possible.  An important consideration in the design was that visitors could return at different times of the year to see seasonal changes in plants and animal behaviour.  The trails are guided and each has its special attractions, details of which are described below.  Visitors may also walk anywhere else on the reserve on their own if they prefer unguided hikes.  Please click on the link below to download the map and descriptions.

Due to the terrain and the exceptional beauty of the reserve, hunting on Thaba Thabo is a very unique and special experience.  We encourage walk and stalk and do not allow hunting from vehicles.  We offer hunting opportunities for both local and international hunters.  Professional hunters and guides are welcome to contact us if they are looking for a hunting venue.  Hunts outside of season and hunts without a Professional Hunter or guide could be considered.  Please contact us to discuss.

Very good carp fishing is available. It is believed that there is also bass in the dams. Feel free to bring a small fishing boat!

The annual Witteberg Mountain Bike Challenge traverses through Thaba Thabo and is arguably the most beautiful route in the country.  Cycling on the reserve as well as on the roads in the area is the ideal way to explore the unique beauty of the Eastern Free State highlands.

Thaba Thabo is approved by the NHSA (National Hunting & Shooting Association).  You are welcome to do your practical compliance shoots on Thaba Thabo.  Long distance shooting is also possible.  The more casual shooters are also very welcome….. bring your firearms, bows, paintball guns, airguns & have fun!

Off Roading
Due to the mountainous terrain, off roading with motorcycles & quad bikes is great fun. We are planning to develop two 4×4 trails for motor vehicles but development is still in an early stage. There are developed 4×4 trails in the area.

Game Viewing
Plains game is plentiful on Thaba Thabo.  We do not keep any dangerous animals and game could therefor be viewed by foot, bicycle, motor cycle, quad bike or by vehicle.

Bird Watching
Four dams offer area shelter to an abundance of bird life.  There are also many bird species associated with high mountains such as grey-wing francolin, ground woodpecker, stone chat, rock thrush, orange breasted rock jumper, rock kestrel, malachite and great double collared sunbirds, bald ibis, gymnogene and black eagle. Lammergeyer are occasionally seen flying along the edge of the high krantzes. 

Abseiling & Climbing

Many cliffs offer opportunity for the more adventurous!

Due to most of the reserve being on top of a mountain range it is ideal for paragliding or hang gliding enthusiasts.

Rowing & Swimming

Cool down in any of the four dams.  The largest dam being 400 metres in length and 50 metres wide.

Horse Riding

Horse riding is offered by a neighbouring farm.  Booking in advance is essential.


With clear, unpolluted skies stargazing is a real treat!


Few areas offer so much beauty and diversity in landscape as the Eastern Free State.  A photographer’s dream come true!


Use Thaba Thabo as a base from which to explore the magnificent Eastern Free State.

Why do anything if you can just relax?  Have a braai with your loved ones or alone!  Enjoy the magnificent sunsets, clean air and pure water.  Wake up to the crowing of roosters.  Take a break on Thaba Thabo, relax and heal.

Rooms and Units Available:

Accommodation is rustic, self catering, serviced daily and available in the form of three Oaktree rondavel style chalets and Gumtree dormitory style accommodation.

MTN cellular reception is available everywhere on the reserve and Vodacom is available only on the ridges. WiFi is available at the accommodation and is free and uncapped. All geysers, fridges and stoves are operated by gas. We offer electrical plugs for charging purposes but due to the electricity being generated by solar power please leave items like electrical blankets and hairdryers at home. We do not have television available which makes Thaba Thabo the perfect breakaway from city life. The tap water is of exceptional quality and visitors are encouraged to fill all their empty containers prior to departure.


Gumtree offers rustic dormitory style accommodation and consists of three bedrooms, open plan living area and kitchen, two showers and several toilets.  It has a fridge, gas stove with oven and a wood stove for heating.  It can house up to 14 guests but is also ideal for smaller groups or even only a couple.  It has a boma braai area with firepit.

Sleeps 14 Adults


Oaktree consists of three rustic and cosy rondavel style sandstone chalets.  Each consists of one double bed, kitchenette, double gas plate, fridge and a Dover wood stove for heating or alternatively a gas heater.  The bathroom consists of a shower, basin and toilet.  Also enjoy the outside braai area or have a braai next to one of the dams.

Amount of similar units: 3
Sleeps 2 Adults and 2 children

Facilities & Services available:

Children under 12
Self-Braai / Barbecue
Parking (off-street - covered)
No Pets Allowed
4x4 Routes
Mountain Biking

Cancellation Policy:

A non-refundable 25% deposit is required to secure a booking. 


Thaba Thabo Nature Reserve can be found and navigated to on Google Maps.

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  • Accommodation Type: Backpacker, Game Lodge, Guest Farm, Private Game Lodge and Self-Catering
  • Malaria Area: No
  • Sleeps: 20
  • Check-in: 12:00 PM
    Check-out: 10:00 AM