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The Art Galleries of the Waterberg, 6 Days

The Art Galleries of the Waterberg, 6 Days

$ 3995 / per person
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Rock Art, Iron & Stone Age Sites


6 Days / 5 Nights
Valid August ’22 – May ’23


The Waterberg (or Thaba Meetse, which in the Northern Sotho language means the ‘water mountain’) is an area of dramatic mountains, hills, gorges and cliff-face landscapes.  Over many hundreds of millions of years, this red sandstone environment has been carved out by rivers that run through it.  The Waterberg derives its name from the way in which newly-fallen rain water quickly seeps out of the rock through cracks and joints, running into and feeding the many perennial rivers which have their source on the Waterberg plateau.  It is a place untouched and exquisite, a complete natural showcase and a cultural experience for those who seek to satisfy a curiosity for knowledge.


Human occupation of The Waterberg goes all the way back to the middle & late stone ages (the San Bushmen & Khoi Khoi) and the iron age (Bantu).  San rock art dating back hundreds, perhaps thousands of years, have been found throughout the greater Waterberg area.  More recently the San were followed by the arrival of a variety of Bantu speaking tribes, originally descending out of Central Africa.  Migratory behaviour of the San, specifically to the Waterberg area, both from before and after the settlement of the Dutch & French Huguenots during the 16 – 18th centuries in the Cape, is evident.


Within the Waterberg there are archaeological finds dating to the stone age, and nearby (The Makapans Valley) are early evolutionary finds related to the origin of humans.  There is also a variety of rock art to be found  – made both by the San (or Bushmen) and the Northern Ndebele farmer communities.  These ancient rock paintings and carvings are found in caves and on rock shelters.


The paintings of the San take on a dramatically different form to that of the Ndebele.  The artwork of the San is greatly refined compared to most others, and speaks of life, indigenous animals, people, non-human beings, hunters, half-human-half-animal hybrids, human interactions and animal interactions.  A great sense of spiritual belief is reflected as well.  The animal mostly depicted in the Waterberg is the kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) – fondly referred to as “The Dancing Kudu of the Waterberg” by Jeremy Hollman (WITS Honorary Research Fellow).  ** Eastwood’s work on kudu paintings in Limpopo (Animals behaving like people: San rock paintings of kudu in the central Limpopo basin, southern Africa. South African Archaeological Bulletin 61(183): 26–39 [2006]).  The Ndebele would draw with the finger and use white clay.  Their artwork includes mostly animals and it is believed to have formed part of their initiation rituals.


As culturally rich – and unexposed – as the Waterberg is, it boasts an equal wealth of untouched ecology (wildlife & natural resources), topography, geology, history, conservation and community!  You will truly find yourself in a very unique bubble of the African landscape as you dwell into what really can only be described as the Waterberg’s African Art Gallery!




With all the inclusions of a luxury safari to South Africa, the cultural content of this experience is equally matched, as it is derived from our Cultural Academic Programmes.  The focal point of this special interest package is therefore devoid of any cosmetic entertainment.  Instead you are accompanied throughout your tour by a specialist guide who is particularly well-versed in the cultural landscape of the Waterberg.


Learning content and interpretation of information shared stems from many years of research, surveying, documenting and management of the fragile cultural resources of the Waterberg.  The area’s most prized cultural resources include rock art, iron age, stone age and initiation sites.  Insightful interpretation and consideration in accommodating the initial understanding of such resources is what sets this programme apart from most others . . . for eg. rock art is seldom what it appears to be at first glance.


Much of what we know about our origins has been learnt from fossils of our ancestral species and their relatives, known as hominins.  Throughout the tour, starting in Sterkfontein (The Cradle of Humankind), you will enjoy specialist presentations taking you into this life of ancient existence.  These include:

  • A University of the Witwatersrand (WITS Evolutionary Studies Institute) presentation at the Sterkfontein Caves on the broader Cradle of Humankind landscape and the importance of the fossil finds and rock art in South Africa.
  • Local researchers or academics who will present and deliver privately guided site visits to a carefully selected range of rock art and archaeological sites as they lay scattered across the Waterberg landscape.
  • A presentation by Mr Richard Wadley on the geology of the Waterberg and its unique ecology in order to put the scenery and remarkable biodiversity of the region into context.
  • A conversation with Mr Glenn Phillips (CEO of the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve) on the wildlife, conservation activities, communities and The Lapalala Wilderness School – the initiative of world-renowned conservationist, Mr Clive Walker.
  • Finally, a lasting impression made by a South African legendry conservationist and speaker – Quinton Coetzee.  A naturalist and adventurer, Quinton motivates, encourages and takes us back to basics!  His presentation is raw, yet powerful using spectacular visuals of wildlife and the tribes of Africa, as he shares with us Lessons taken from “The First People” – the San Tribes of Africa.  Our Ecology has become our Economy – Evolution to Revolution.


Your trip will include a perfect blend of luxury road transfers, accommodation & meals, game viewing and activities, 4 x 4 safari vehicles and of course the special interest cultural content.  You will also enjoy a dedicated driver / guide and a Safari Odyssey tour leader to manage the logistics of the tour.


** A copy of the book Waterberg Echoes, a history of the Waterberg, written by Richard Wadley, will be included per sharing travel package.

** Reference The Evolutionary Studies of Life & Death, written by WITS Researcher Pierre M. Durand from the Evolutionary Studies Institute.


NOTE: The broad generic term “Cultural Heritage Resources” refers to any physical and spiritual property associated with past and present human use or occupation of the environment, cultural activities and history. The term includes sites, structures, places, natural features and material of palaeontological, archaeological, historical, aesthetic, scientific, architectural, religious, symbolic or traditional importance to specific individuals or groups, traditional systems of cultural practice, belief or social interaction.



*** This is an optional add-on day & night at the start of the tour



  • *** Early morning hot air balloon safari if staying over in Magaliesburg the night before
  • *** Breakfast included as part of the hot air balloon safari
  • Transfer to the Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, Waterberg
  • Visit two known rock art sites under the leadership of a renowned local Archaeologist
  • Star-gazing evening presentation
  • Overnight @ Laluka Safari Lodge (5*), Welgevonden Private Game Reserve, 2 nights
  • Twice-daily game drives
  • Day 1: Breakfast at De Hoek Country Hotel, lunch & dinner at the Laluka Safari Lodge
  • Day 2: Breakfast, lunch & dinner at the Laluka Safari Lodge



  • Breakfast at Laluka Safari Lodge
  • River Lodge House, SwebeSwebe Nature Reserve
  • Visit to the rock art site known as Baboons’ Cave
  • Twice daily game drives / ecological activities
  • Lunch & dinner at the River Lodge House, SwebeSwebe





  • Goudrivier Private Game Reserve, rock art sites under the leadership of a renowned local Archaeologist
  • Breakfast at Tintswalo Lapala & lunch at the Seringa Cafe in Vaalwater
  • Return to Johannesburg / Pretoria
  • Destination
  • Departure
    Pretoria, Gauteng
  • Departure Time
  • Return Time

Tour Plan


ADD-ON DAY: WITS Origins Centre & Cradle of Humankind, Sterkfontein, Swartkrans & Malapa Caves (Hominin Fossil sites)

  • BREAKFAST: Athol Place House, breakfast in the garden.
  • TRANSFER: Sandton to Sterkfontein within the Cradle of Humankind area,
  • AM ACTIVITY & SITE VISIT: One of the highlights of this tour is your time spent at the Sterkfontein, Swartkrans and Malapa Caves, with presentations and privately guided tours by researchers who enjoy much experience from years of working in the area.  The University of the Witwatersrand is the Guardian of these sites and remains actively involved with research and excavation activities within this hominin fossil landscape.
  • LUNCH: Lunch at the local restaurant - Roots, Forum Homini. Set in the most tranquil of locations, all produce used in Roots is locally sourced, but more specifically from the direct surrounds.
  • PM ACTIVITY: A demonstration and the opportunity to try your hand at the art of stone tool making - under the guidance of a leading stone tool expert.
  • TIME FOR A BEER: By now you have probably had quite a day!  Just so happens that there is an artisanal craft brewery & distillery on the way to your hotel . . .  Black Horse Brewery & Distillery.  Time allowing, we can enjoy a quick (or not so quick) distillery tour, gin, beer and snack before heading onto dinner at the hotel that you will be staying at for the evening.
  • CHECK-IN: De Hoek Country Hotel (5*), Magaliesburg.
  • DINNER: Conservatory Restaurant at De Hoek.
  • OVERNIGHT: De Hoek Country Hotel, standard rooms, sharing.
  • MEALS: Breakfast at Athol Place House / lunch at Roots Restaurant, Forum Homini / dinner at Conservatory Restaurant at De Hoek.
  • BEVERAGES: Beverages during lunch and dinner include water, juices, soft drinks, select wines, spirits & beers, tea & coffee.
  • YOUR HOST FOR THE DAY: A WITS Evolutionary Studies Institute Academic / Researcher.
  • OVERVIEW OF THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF THE CRADLE OF HUMANKIND: The original Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site (excluding Taung and the Makapans Valley) stretches over an area of 470km² and includes an estimated 300 caves. Within this landscape palaeoanthropologists have discovered thousands of hominid fossils and other animals, dating back about 4-million years, said to be the birth-place of humankind. The most famous of these fossils are “Mrs Ples”, a skull which is more than 2-million years old, and “Little Foot”, a skeleton which is between 4-million and 3-million years old. Archaeological finds at the Cradle of Humankind include some of the oldest recorded stone tools in Southern Africa, such as 1.7-million-year-old stone tools. At Swartkrans, near Sterkfontein, a collection of about 270 burnt bones indicate that our ancestors could manage fire more than 1-million years ago.

DAY 1: Laluka Safari Lodge, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve (Rock Art sites)

  • *** SAFARI: Early morning hot air balloon safari over the Cradle of Humankind area- if staying over in Magaliesburg the night before
  • *** BREAKFAST: Breakfast is included in the hot air balloon experience.
  • TRANSFER: Morning transfer from Pretoria to The Welgevonden Private Game Reserve with a travel time of appoximately 3 hours / 235 kilometers.
  • CHECK-IN: Laluka Safari Lodge (5*)MORNING: Upon arrival enjoy a welcome drink and check-in to your accommodation. A short while before lunch, your guide and local researcher will meet with your group and chat about the cultural landscape, history, ecology, geology and conservation activities of this reserve. There will be much to explore and learn about in this area, along the same trend as what you will find throughout the rest of the Waterberg.
  • LUNCH: Light, delicious and beautifully prepared by the chef's of Laluka Safari Lodge, most of the fresh products are produced by Laluka themselves.
  • AFTERNOON: Excursion to the first rock art site. This site requires a short walk, and is located at a rock overhang overlooking a valley stretching to the north of the reserve. The site is approximately 50 meters across with a number of rock art panels.
  • PM GAME DRIVE: Game drive and sundowners before returning back to the lodge.
  • DINNER: Laluka Safari Lodge's restaurant is cosy and initmate and even offers the opportunity for guests to sit alongside the kitchen (with a wine or cocktail) and watch the most magnificent chefs at work as they create a delicately placed dish for every course served!.
  • OVERNIGHT: Laluka Safari Lodge, fully inclusive.
  • MEALS: Breakfast at Marataba Mountain Lodge / lunch & dinner at Laluka Safari Lodge.
  • BEVERAGES: Beverages during lunch and dinner include water, juices, soft drinks, select wines, spirits & beers, tea & coffee.
  • OVERVIEW OF THE WILDLIFE & ECOLOGY OF THE WELGEVONDEN PRIVATE GAME RESERVE:  Welgevonden is home to more than 65 mammal species. While these include the famous Big Five, it is the rare and unusual species like cheetah, brown hyaena, caracal, aardwolf and aardvark that make game drives exceptionally exciting. Welgevonden sports a diverse range of habitat types which support a riot of biodiversity, including over 300 different birds! From cheetah-loved grasslands and savannahs to leafy wooded mountains cut by deep rocky ravines, Welgevonden has it all!

DAY 2: Laluka Safari Lodge, Welgevonden Private Game Reserve (Rock Art sites)

  • AM ACTIVITY: We suggest you make an early morning rise and spend some time at Laluka's "underground" hide. The hide is sunken so that your view is at eyelevel with the ground with a beautiful of the valley stretching far out in the background.
  • BREAKFAST: Breakfast starts with a delicate selection of starters followed by a choice of various main courses, cold and hot beverages. You may enjoy breakfast on the deck or lower down near the boma with the most beautiful look-out point over the valley!
  • MORNING: Today you will visit the 2nd rock art site within the reserve. Set alongside the Sterkstroom river, we will enjoy a few snacks and beverages before heading back to the lodge.
  • LUNCH: Lunch will be served back at the lodge.
  • AFTERNOON: After lunch you can enjoy the lodge pool or your own splash pool back at the room, a refreshing outdoor shower or a quick nap.
  • PM GAME DRIVE: Afternoon game drive with sundowners followed by an evening's star-gazing with a local presenter.
  • DINNER: Dinner will form part of the star-gazing experience, weather permitting, a barbeque down at Laluka's boma!
  • OVERNIGHT: Laluka Safari Lodge, sharing, fully inclusive.
  • MEALS: Breakfast at / lunch & dinner at Laluka Safari Lodge.
  • BEVERAGES: Beverages during lunch and dinner include water, juices, soft drinks, select wines, spirits & beers, tea & coffee.
  • YOUR HOST FOR THE DAY: A local rock art / archaeology researcher.
  • OVERVIEW OF THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF THE WELGEVONDEN PRIVATE GAME RESERVE: There are two rock art sites of interest. Both sites contain San fine-line paintings & later finger paintings. At one of the sites are handprints, walls are densely painted and in some areas there are at least two layers of paintings. At the other site there are designs that belong, possibly, to a later herder tradition of painting. Some of the images are fairly well preserved while others are quite faded and indistinct, a result of the art being a few thousand years old and of exposure to weathering and other natural elements.

DAY 3: SwebeSwebe Nature Reserve (Rock Art & Ecology)

  • BREAKFAST: Enjoy a leisurely breakfast at Laluka Safari Lodge.
  • TRANSFER: After breakfast you will be transferred to SwebeSwebe Nature Reserve (located on a private estate), an approximate 2 hours drive & 135 kilometers to the north of Welgevonden.
  • CHECK-IN: Your accommodation - River Lodge House - for this evening, is self-catering, set on a private estate and amongst the most breath-taking topography.  Although the house is self-catering you will be fully cared for with your own private chef and butler, who will be on call for the duration of your stay.
  • LUNCH: Enjoy a specially prepared picnic lunch at SwebeSwebe.
  • AFTERNOON: For the afternoon the end destination is Baboons's Cave, an impressively large overhang, in order to view a series of rock art paintings.  Getting to the site requires a short, scenic walk to where the softly flowing river collects in a little dam at the foot of the overhang.  En-route, and back, you will enjoy a wonderful conversation on the fauna & flora of Swebe, especially on the birdlife as well as trees, plants & "veld" flowers together with some folklore on the medicinal use of some of these.
  • DINNER: Dinner will be served on the verandah of River House Lodge.  This natural setting will certainly entertain you with the song of evening birds and insects, perhaps even the odd antelope making their way through the shrub below.
  • OVERNIGHT: River Lodge House, sharing & fully inclusive.
  • MEALS: Breakfast at Laluka Safari Lodge / lunch & dinner at River Lodge House, SwebeSwebe.
  • BEVERAGES: Beverages during lunch and dinner include water, juices, soft drinks, select wines, spirits & beers, tea & coffee.
  • YOUR HOST FOR THE DAY: A local rock art / archaeology researcher.
  • OVERVIEW OF THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF SWEBESWEBE: SwebeSwebe is located in an area of vast topographical variances, and with this it is most likely that cultural sites would be found along the river that cuts through its landscape, at times with massive cliff-faces on either side of the river. Not many sites have been identified, however, there is a site of particular interest since it contains three different painting traditions. This is rare in the Waterberg, and this particular site turns out to be one of the finest examples found in the greater Waterberg area.

DAY 4: Tintswalo Lapalala Game Lodge, Lapalala Wilderness Reserve (Rock Art & Iron Age sites)

  • AM GAME DRIVE: You will have noticed by now that early morning is one of the most beautiful and serene times of the day to be out and enjoying the beauty of your natural surrounds.  Your morning drive will again deliver a little bit of everything made ever more interesting by your local guide, Andre, a natural soul himself, he beams with enthusiasm in sharing his knowledge on the environment.
  • BREAKFAST: Last breakfast at the lodge.
  • TRANSFER: You will depart from SwebeSwebe to transfer even further into the heart of the Waterberg - the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve - which forms part of the Waterberg Biosphere.
  • CHECK-IN: Tintswalo Lapalala Game Lodge (5*).
  • TRANSFER TO LAPALALA WILDERNESS RESERVE:  120 Kilometers / 1 hr 45 minutes' drive time from Welgevonden to the Lapalala Wilderness Reserve.
  • LUNCH: Lunch upon arrival at the Tintswalo Lapalala Game Lodge.
  • PRESENTATION: Mr Richard Wadley - The geology of the Waterberg as well as its unique ecology in order to put the scenery and remarkable biodiversity of the region into context.
  • PM ACTIVITY: Your afternoon game drive will take you into the dazzling starry Lapalala Wilderness evening.
  • DINNER: Dinner at the lodge.
  • OVERNIGHT: Tintswalo Lapalala Game Lodge, including Explorer suites, sharing, double or twin, all meals, 2 game activities daily.
  • MEALS: Breakfast at Laluka Safari Lodge / lunch is a packed picnic lunch / dinner at Tintswalo Lapalala
  • BEVERAGES: Beverages for lunch and dinner include water, juices, soft drinks, select wines, spirits and beers, tea and coffee included for lunch and dinner.
  • YOUR HOSTS FOR THE DAY: A locally based archaeological researcher and Mr Richard Wadley.

DAY 5: Tintswalo Lapalala Game Lodge, Lapalala Wilderness Reserve (Rock Art & Iron Age sites)

  • AM ACTIVITY: Early morning game drive or safari activity of your choice.
  • BREAKFAST: Served on the deck once back at the lodge.
  • SITE VISIT: Enjoy a presentation on the rock art of the Lapalala Wilderness area followed by a drive to visit a local site.  The ancient rock paintings and carvings are found in caves and on rock shelters. The artwork depicts indigenous animals, non-human beings, hunters, and half-human half-animal hybrids.
  • LUNCH: Picnic lunch en-route back to the lodge.
  • CONVERSATION with Glenn Phillips, CEO of the Lapalala Wilderness, on their Wild Dog Tagging programme, conservation activities and more interesting topics about Lapalala and the Wilderness School.  
  • PM ACTIVITY: Late afternoon star-gazing presentation with Dr Philip Calcott.  Snacks and bush dinner and then snuggle up with your blankets, a hot water bottle and a mattress - in the open, right underneath the clean open skies of the Waterberg.  Venture on a cosmic journey as the sun sets and the sky changes into a glistening star struck universe.
  • DINNER: Served as part of the star-gazing experience.
  • OVERNIGHT: Tintswalo Lapalala, including Explorer suites, sharing, double or twin, all meals, 2 game activities daily.
  • MEALS: Breakfast, lunch and dinner served at Tintswalo Lapalala.
  • BEVERAGES: Beverages for lunch and dinner include water, juices, soft drinks, select wines, spirits and beers, tea and coffee included for lunch and dinner.
  • YOUR HOSTS FOR THE DAY: Local Rock Art Presenter, Dr Philip Calcott as your star-gazing Guide and Glenn Phillips, CEO Lapalala Wilderness.

DAY 6: Goudriver Private Game Reserve (Rock Art sites)

  • BREAKFAST: You will enjoy your last country breakfast at Tintswalo Lapalala
  • TRANSFER: Transfer from Lapalala to Goudrivier Private Game Reserve.
  • PRESENTATION: Upon arrival enjoy some refreshments while receiving a presentation on the Rock Art sites of Goudrivier.  A drive out to the rock art sites follows and you will need to walk a little through some brush so please keep your hiking shoes and sunhat closeby.
  • LUNCH: Later afternoon lunch stop at The Saringa Cafe, Vaalwater en-route back to Pretoria /Johannesburg.
  • TRANSFER: Late afternoon transfer from Vaalwater back to Pretoria / Johannesburg.
  • MEALS: Breakfast at Tintswalo Lapalala & lunch at Saringa Cafe.
  • BEVERAGES: Beverages during lunch and dinner include water, juices, soft drinks, select wines, spirits & beers, tea & coffee.
  • YOUR HOST FOR THE DAY: A local rock art / archaeology researcher.
  • OVERVIEW OF THE CULTURAL LANDSCAPE OF THE GOUDRIVIER GAME RESERVE: The rock art sites of Goudrivier, the number of paintings and -their state of preservation, is without parallel in the Waterberg. This site was documented by the WITS Rock Art Research Institute in 1999. It is believed that the rock art resources of the Goudrivier area are pivotal in concluding the interpretation of the rock art as part of the greater Waterberg area.


  • 5 Nights', 4 & 5* accommodation, sharing.
  • 6 Days transfer in luxury minibus.
  • Dedicated driver / guide.
  • Specialist guide and tour leader.
  • Cultural content, site visits, presentations & discussions.
  • Meals & beverages as indicated.
  • Game viewing activities in 4 x 4 safari vehicles as indicated in the itinerary.
  • Hot air balloon safari in Magaliesberg.*** included in optional add-on day
  • Hotel & airport porterages.
  • Tips for drivers, guides and trackers.
  • A copy of the book "Waterberg Echoes", a history of the Waterberg, written by Richard Wadley.


Tour Location

Your visit to South, and the rest of Africa, can enjoy a richness that takes you beyond your exposure to, and understanding of, everyday routine-type travel.


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