Wildlife & Flowers of the Soutpansberg

Adventure through the Soutpansberg:

The Soutpansberg this and the Soutpansberg that… How many times I had heard that word during my childhood. Like is was a fantastic place. Then I had a chance to go there. I must say springtime is the best time… to go there!

Soutpansberg mountains

A5 watercolour: Late afternoon view of the Soutpansberg mountains

The Soutpansberg is found in the Limpopo area, of northern Transvaal, South Africa.

Our eldest daughter took my husband and myself to the Kruger National park more than ten years ago and instead of going straight home to Johannesburg, we detoured back home through the Soutpansberg.

Soutpansberg is in Limpopo

Map of the Limpopo province of Northern Transvaal, South Africa

One of the places we visited was the Spring Festival in Haenertburg.

Not only did we see the flowers, arts and crafts at the hotel and beer garden marquees, we also spent a lot of time at the Cheerio Gardens.

Spring time in the Soutpansberg

Photo of poppies at the Spring Festival.

The Cheerio Gardens are so beautiful.

You’ll find mass of azaleas there, nestling between trees and around ponds. The tranquility of the stream running through the farm and its vegetation brings peace to the soul. It’s a ‘must see’ place to go to.

To see what more the place offers, check out http://cheeriogardens.co.za/

Azaleas at Cheerio Gardens, Soutpansberb

A5 watercolours of Azaleas in the Cheerio Gardens farm.

The Soutpansberg climate:

  • Summer time: 340-2000 mm rain and temperature 16-40°C
  • Winter time: Dry weather and temperature 12-22°C

Rock art & archaeology:

  • The rock art consists of engravings and paintings: found mainly in the western section of the mountains.
  • Archaeology: Evidence of early Stone Age up to the late Iron Age.

Culture & natural talent:

Potters, drum makers, bead workers and dressmakers

Nature reserves in the Soutpansberg:

There are many nature reserves in the Soutpansberg. The following list of wild animals and wild life may vary according to each reserve. So check out what you want to see before booking into a reserve.

  • The big five: Elephants, rhino, lions, leopards, wildebeest
  • Buck: Kudu, impala, eland, waterbuck, gems buck, sable, nyala and roan antelope
  • Other wild animals: Warthog, bush pig, hyena, wild dog, buffalo, giraffe, crocodile and hippo
  • Also: Indigenous birds, reptiles and fish.

Have you ever been to the Soutpansberg?

Just pop your comment in the comments block at the bottom of this blog post. Love to hear from you.

Want to see more paintings and places in South Africa?

Click on the two categories below. They are found in the left sidebar of any one of the menu pages you click on:

Wild Natural Reserve Painting

Wild open space behind our cottage:

Ever wanted to have a wild open space behind your house? We did.

When we first came up to the Transvaal in 1980, from Durban, we stayed in a small village south of Johannesburg. During the time we were there we had temporary accommodation in a cottage at the bottom of Kibbler Park.

Wild natural reserve

A5 watercolour: Cattle grazing area, near the Klip River, Eikenhof. south of Johannesburg.

Wild life at the bottom of the garden:

Beyond the fence, behind the cottage, there was a wide open space where we often took walks. Even though it was set aside as a natural reserve, it wasn’t attended by the parks board or by the Eikenhof municipality. So it was completely wild, with long grass, weeds and wild flowers.

We enjoyed watching the weaver birds busily nesting in the tall reeds and willows bordering the river. Along that section of Klip River, there were so many reeds you couldn’t even see the river or get close to it. You could only hear the water as it passed through the reeds. Been in the wilderness, in all its wild state, it’s so invigorating. Especially for me! I suppose been an artist I see beauty all around me.

I love been in wild places where you feel like no one has been there before. You have the privilege of soaking it all in, without the sound of cars switching by or hooting.

The atmospheric conditions at sunset are truly amazing. You watch the sun go down over the horizon and its rays creating halos on the grass seeds.

If you keep still and absorb the existence of wild life around you, you can hear the bees humming. And if you look closely at the little wild flowers hidden in the thatch grass, you’ll also discover little creatures going about their own lives. Gosh, I really enjoyed showing my children this underworld of activity. How many of us take time out to really observe what is around us, let alone what the ‘little people’ are doing?!

Wild natural reserve

Photo of the grazing area, that I painted from.

Our Eikenhof scene:

One day I went a little further and came across this scene in the photograph. Here the grass was thinned out because it was wintertime and a cattle grazing area, away from the river.

  • Photos don’t really capture the true essence of a scene. And as artists it would drive us mad if we tried to put in every detail we saw in photos, or try to reproduce exactly what God so cleverly created.
  • It is our job then, to translate what we see, according to our observations and abilities. During location fieldwork, our creativity of the scene tends to take on its own presentation. Often it’s because you can’t judge a colour. Because the sun is too bright to evaluate the true shade or tint. Also the wind gives you so much hassles, that you work quickly in your endeavour to work with fluidly.

So as it turns out:

You do your best outdoors, splashing paint on; in the hopes you captured things okay. And then go home to do adjustments where necessary in more favourable light conditions. The results are something else; your interpretation.

To hang how your painting turned out. The whole point of the exercise is to enjoy the outing. Life is to enjoy. And been out in Nature’s cradle is the best part.

If You would like to see other paintings of places I have been to,

  • Check out the ‘Location Adventures’ and ‘Photo Demos’ category, in sidebar of one of the pages on this site.
  • The Road to Drakensburg Gardens, Natal South Africa, tells of the time when I did my first location oil painting and my start of doing location fieldwork.

Road to Drakensburg Gardens

Location adventures:

The road to Drakensburg Gardens was the start of my I love for doing location work. Doing fieldwork is like going on an adventure. You never know who you’ll met or what you’ll see around the next corner, in the most unexpected places.

Alongside the road to Drakensburg Gardens

A5 watercolour: Winter time. The river alongside the road to Drakensburg Gardens, Natal, South Africa.

This blog is about the time spent in the Drakensburg years ago.

When our children were young, we often visited my parents during the time they lived near Sani Pass. Their house was situated on the main road into Himville. And their lounge had a fantastic panoramic view of the Drakensburg mountain range. Every afternoon you could witness the dramatic brewing of clouds and impending storms garthering over the expanse of the berg.

Can you believe it; my father at the age of eighty had built that house, including its large underground reservoir, out of bricks he had made himself! The house had an ingenious heating system. Shame, they went through such hardships to complete that house.

My sister also lived in Himeville at the time, in the house they built themselves as well. Their house wasn’t on the main road.

So it goes without saying, we had many a happy time with family gatherings. Going for walks, picnicking and swimming in rivers together! I remember a time when our girls had fun making mud pies and dressing up in old clothes.

Location experiences there:

My first oil painting was done at my parent’s dining room table. Looking down the street of Himeville, I did a location painting of a house behind a tall hedge. I still laugh, even today… In my painting, the roof of that house looked like a hat sitting on the hedge! Yes you are allowed to laugh.

Most people would have given up there and then. But then, I’m not everyone.  I’m plain stubborn. I still continued to persist in painting! Guess one learns a lot through each and every experience.

When the family went picnicking, ten to one, I would be taking photos of the scenes round about or do location work while they were frolicking in the nearby stream.  Other times we went for country drives just for the fun of it, and out would come my old fashioned camera.

Along the road to Drakensburg Gardens:

The photos and paintings in this blog:

  • The first were of a time when my father went with me, to see what I could find along the road to Drakensburg Gardens to paint. Sorry that the photos you see here, are rather blurry. They are very old photos. And the watercolour painting is an old one too, done about 1974. As to Drakensburg Gardens, it is a tourist resort, see map of the area provided.
Road to Drakensburg

Drakensburg Gardens. Beautiful place isn’t it!

  • And the second lot was from a time when my sister and her husband took us to see a farm along that same road to Drakensburg Gardens.
Huts on a farm, road to Drakensburg Gardens

A5 watercolour, painted later from a photo: Round huts on the farm we visited.


The watercolour of the round huts (called rondawels) was painted from the scene we came across in a clearing surrounded by eucalyptus trees, on the farm we visited with my sister. I presume the huts were for staff or used as a storeroom for farm equipment.

We were also shown the spot where the farmer’s family used to enjoy swimming down by the river. Can you spot the farmer’s pet dog down by the river in the photo? In the old days we didn’t have cameras that took panoramic scenes! We would have to join them to get panoramic views.

Road to Drakensburg

Joined-photo, taken of a stream running through their farm

Afterwards, the farmer showed us his dairy herd of black and white Friesland cows. I will never forget how large and magnificent that bread of his was. They seemed to tower above us as they passed us on their way through, into the milking parlour!

Results of my Drakensburg experiences:

Sorry I can’t show you more of the paintings I did in those days we spent in the Drakensburg Mountains and surrounding area. They were sold in a gallery, in Pine Street, Durban, Natal.

Even though I’ve moved since then from Durban, I guess my love of doing location fieldwork started way back then in the days that my folks lived in Himeville.

Oh what fun I’ve had:

To find scenes to paint I’ve been willing to climb down into rocky gorges, through fences and over boulders in my endeavours to trail through streams or venture along seashores. Not to mention the thrill of walking through forests and climbing up steep rocky hillsides to get a better panoramic landscape views. (Of cause I have a much better camera today).

You can have these types of adventures too, if you are willing to` go the extra mile’ and ‘do your thing’. No one ever experiences anything without making the effort, no matter what you have to do to achieve what you’re most passionate about.