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Mount Sheba Nature Reserve

Mount Sheba Nature Reserve - Escarpment, Mpumalanga  © Bernard DUPONT, Copyright

Mount Sheba Nature Reserve

The magnificent Mount Sheba Nature Reserve in Mpumalanga Province, lies on the road from Pilgrims Rest to Lydenburg, and serves as an extrmely popular bird watching destination and is regarded as one of Mpumalanga's premier forest-birding destinations. The reserve is privately owned, however it is open to the public, many of whom take delight in the excellent walking trails, and rich plant and bird diversity of the reserve. Mount Sheba lies nestled in a series of majestic mountains which overlook the historic mining town of Pilgrim's Rest, and covers a total surface area of just over a thousand hectares.

The Mount Sheba Nature Reserve features steep hilly terrain blanketed by dense Afro-montane forest on the upper reaches, tracts of thorny thicket on the lower slopes, river valleys and magnificent gardens. The reserve is covered by a network of scenic walking trails ranging from fairly strenuous to easy, which allow visitors to fully explore the beauty of the forest and grassland, as well as a number of beautiful waterfalls.

Mount Sheba's gardens are not only an attraction for visitors, but draw a wide variety of birds to the region. These gardens feature a variety of beautiful flowering plants, fruit trees and open lawns, and numerous rare and interesting plant species which include the clivia caulescens, gladiolus varius and disa extinctoria. The higher altitudes of the reserve feature a series of rocky outcrops and open grasslands which are also home to an interesting variety of Protea.

Keen bird watchers can look forward to a wide and impressive variety of species which include both typical escarpment and more localized specials. The upper slopes of the reserve attract birds such as the African cuckoo hawk, the forest canary, the Africa emerald cuckoo, Cape eagle-owl, blue-mantled crested flycatcher and Gurney's sugarbird. Other species found throughout the reserve include African Crowned Eagle, Redwing Francolin, Cinnamon Dove, Knysna Lourie, Bush Blackcap, Barratt's Warbler, Bush Shrike, Red-necked Spurfowl, Lemon Dove, African Emerald Cuckoo, Narina Trogon, Olive Woodpecker, Yellow-streaked Greenbul, Orange Ground-Thrush, Buff-streaked Chat, White-starred Robin, Yellow-throated Woodland-Warbler, Mountain Wagtail, and Black-fronted Bush-Shrike. The gardens at Mount Sheba offer visitors a brilliant opportunity, especially early in the morning, to view the elusive southern double-collared sunbird and the Knysna turaco.

The rich and diverse indigenous vegetation of the Mount Sheba nature reserve is also home to a variety of mammal species which include oribi (Ourebia ourebia), klipspringer (Oreotragus oretragus), the rare Samango monkey(Cercopithecus mitis labiatus), and African wild cat (Felis lybica).

For those visitors interested in the local history of the region, Mount Sheba also houses a series of Gold diggings and wagon trails which date back to the early 1900's. The awe-inspiring and picturesque landscape of the Mount Sheba Nature Reserve also offers a variety of outdoor activities which include superb mountain bike trails and trout fishing in the well-stocked dam. Visitors who wish to fish can obtain a valid fishing license from the Reception. (R25 p/d and R150 per week. All fish must be weighed in - cost is R50 per kg.

The reserve also houses a hotel, and conference and function venues for weddings, gala dinners & product launches. For more information contact Mount Sheba Nature Reserve on (013) 768-1125.

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