Natural Heritage Sites

A number of registered Natural Heritage Sites are located within less than 30 minutes drive from Graskop - some of which are featured on this page.

The South African Natural Heritage Programme (SANHP) is a voluntary programme and participation is at the sole discretion of the land owner.

The qualification criteria for registration include stands of special plant communities, good examples of aquatic habitats, sensitive catchment areas, habitats of threatened or endangered species, as well as outstanding natural features.

Agapanthus inapertus "Graskop"
Photo: Prof. BM Herbst
More info on the 
"Graskop" Agapanthus

Natural Heritage Sites
Mondi/Global Indigenous Forest Reserve
Mondi/Global Tree Fern Reserve
London Nature Reserve
Paradise Camp
Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve

Webmaster's Note:
All the Natural Heritage Sites are on private land and permission to visit it, if at all, is at the sole discretion on the landowner.

Please do not enter
without permission

Mondi/Global Indigenous Forest Reserve (SANHP Site # 50)
This 52 ha reserve in the Pilgrims Rest area of largely undisturbed forest (Acocks Veld Type 8) protects large specimens of yellowwood (Podocarpus sp.) and red stinkwood (Prunus africana).  Rare vertebrates include Natal ghost frog (Heleophryne natalensis), red duiker (Cephalophus natalensis) and narina trogon (Apaloderma nerina).  The area is well watered, and as a result there are numerous streams, waterfalls, and drip-maintained rockface communities.
Contact: Global Forest Products on (013) 764-1011


Mondi/Global Tree Fern Reserve (SANHP Site # 51)
In this 3,3 ha reserve in the Pilgrims Rest area there are 1 226 tree ferns (Cyathea dregi) ranging from 1 m to 5 m high.  This could well be the greatest concentration of the species in the world.
Contact: Global Forest Products on (013) 764-1011

London Nature Reserve (SANHP Site # 132)
The vegetation of this 948 ha reserve north of Graskop consists of North-Eastern Mountain Sourveld (Acocks Veld Type 8), with pockets of indigenous forests.  A well-developed wetland system is found along parts of the Treur River and parts of the catchment area of the Treur and Blyde Rivers.  Rock ash (Ekebergia pterophylla) and silver sugarbush (Protea roupelliae) are some of the tree and shrub species.  The vulnerable fish species Treur River barb (Barbus treurensis) and the endangered blue swallow (Hirundo atracaerulea) are also found on this site.  Outstanding natural features are the cliffs enclosing the valley and the cascades and pools of the Treur River.
Global Forest Products on (013) 764-1011

Paradise Camp (SANHP Site # 196)
The veld type on this 57 ha site near Graskop is Acocks Veld Type 8  (North-Eastern Mountain Sourveld).  Red Data Book plants Erica rivularis (endangered) and the orchid Angraecum chamaeanthus as well as Streptocarpus pogonites (rare) and Polystachya transvaalensis occur on this site.  Red Data Book birds like the blue swallow (Hirundo atroccaerulea), striped flufftail (Sarothrura affinis) and Stanley's bustard (Neotis denhami) are also present.  Approximately 15 larger mammal species, some of which are listed in the South African Red Data Book, are sporadic visitors to the site.  The scenic beauty of the escarpment is an important feature of the area.
Contact: Ken Gamble on (013) 767-1118

Malidyke (SANHP Site # 293)
This 248 ha site between Graskop and Sabie is essentially a rolling open primary grassland comprising of North Eastern Mountain Sourveld (Acocks Veld Type 8) which is known for its high level of endemism and floristic diversity.  The site forms part of the catchment of the MacMac River, which in turn feeds the Sabie River.  Malidyke is also known to be a breeding site for the highly endangered blue swallow (Hirundo atracaerulea).  Other bird species sited in the area includes lesser striped swallow (Hirundo abyssinica), helmeted guineafowl (Numida meleagris), hoopoe (Upupa africana) and long-crested eagle (Lophaetus occipitalis).
Contact: Global Forest Products on (013) 764-1011

Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve
Copyright: SA Tourism Although not a registered SA Natural Heritage Site, the world renown Blyde River Canyon deserves to be included here. 
The reserve is located north of Graskop and covers an area of 22 664 ha, extending from the Pinnacle Rock in the south to beyond the Blyderivierspoort Dam in the north.

The Blyde River Canyon is the third largest canyon in the world and was formed by rivers cutting deep into the escarpment and eroding millions of tons of rock which were carried to the Lowveld and beyond to the Indian Ocean.  The reserve (administrated by the Mpumalanga Parks Board) is known primarily for it's outstanding natural beauty, as well as for the numerous endemic and endangered fauna and flora species that occur on the reserve.

Five of the 71 different veld types of South Africa occur on the reserve.  These include Mixed Bushveld, North Eastern Mountain Sourveld, Lowveld Sour Bushveld and Lowveld Mixed Bushveld.  The reserve represents a transitional zone for the flora of these five veld types, including their associated fauna, which migrate along the escarpment from as far south as the Southern Cape; plants from KwaZulu-Natal; sub-tropical plants from the Lowveld and plants from the central bushveld, which follow the Ohrigstad and Olifants River valleys into the canyon.  The rich and varied plant life is influenced by the specific climate, altitude and soil conditions.

Red Hot Poker (Photo: Willie Jacobs)These rich and diverse plant communities support, in turn, an equally rich and varied fauna.  The montane grassland provide suitable habitat for grey rhebuck (Pelea capreolus), the rare oribi (Ourebia ourebia), a variety of seed eating birds, rodents, reptiles and an abundance of insects.  Klipspringers (Oreotragus oretragus) and hyrax (dassies) (Procavia capensis) find food and shelter in rocky areas while mountain reedbuck (Redunca fulvorufula) and kudu (Tragelaphus strepsiceros) prefer wooden bushveld where patches of dense cover also shelter the rare red duiker (Cephalophus natalensis).  Bushbuck (Tragelaphus scriptus) and bush-pig (Potamochoerus porcus) feed on the luxuriant growth on the banks of the rivers and streams.

A variety of aquatic animals including waterbirds, fish, otters, hippo and crocodile live in and around the dam, rivers, mountain streams and wetlands.  Birds of grassland, woodland, forest and scrub occur, with all three the indigenous loerie species present.  All five of South Africa's primates are found in the reserve, including the rare samango monkey. The nocturnal bushbabies (Galago crassicaudatus), as well as vervet monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops) and chacma baboons (Papio ursinus) are often seen.

An interesting variety of small mammals include the yellow footed squirrel, honey badger, aardvark, aardwolf, porcupine and various mongoose species.  On top of the food chain is the leopard, as well as smaller carnivores such as the spotted genet, civet cat, serval and caracal.
Contact: Mpumalanga Parks Board at Bourke's Luck Potholes on (013) 761-6019

Recommended books about the fauna and flora of the area:

  • Transvaal Lowveld and Escarpment including the Kruger National Park. South African Wild Flower Guide 4. By Jo Onderstall.  ISBN 0 620 07749 2.

  • Wild About the Lowveld. All-in-one Guide to Common Animals and Plants of the Kruger National Park, Wildlife Reserves and Escarpment Foothills.  By Duncan Butchart.  ISBN 1 86812 596 3.

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