River of dreams…

Here at Abelana Game Reserve we are lucky enough to have 10km of the beautiful Selati River on our property, with permanent water all year round thanks to a series of weirs that provide a home to a wide variety of aquatic and semi aquatic species, from hippos and crocodiles to a host of birdlife.

The Selati is a seasonal river that rises on the rugged, western slopes of the Wolkberg – part of the Drakensberg chain found some 20km south east of the town of Tzaneen. It flows for around 140km before joining the Olifants River near Abelana just south of the town of Phalaborwa. Although dry for most of the year away from the weirs, the Selati flows strongly in the rainy season, bringing life-giving water to the parched bushveld on its way to the Olifants, the mighty Limpopo and ultimately, the Indian Ocean.

On Abelana Game Reserve the Selati means life in all its abundance, from the lush riparian forests that blanket both of its banks to the beds of reeds that grow at its edges and the myriad pools that form both upstream and downstream of its weirs. Towering trees provide oases of shade – shelter to a wealth of wildlife species from the beautiful kudu and other antelope species to giraffe and elephant alike. It’s beneath these beautiful shade trees that you’ll find Abelana River Lodge, opening in January 2020. This 40-bed luxury safari lodge is the second accommodation offering on Abelana Game Reserve and will take full advantage of the Selati and the wildlife it attracts, with morning and afternoon game drives each day exploring the beautiful forests and glades along its banks and into the reserve beyond.

All of the rooms at Abelana River Lodge open out onto private decks overlooking the river, where guests will have the chance to see exciting endemic bird species like the African fish eagle and Pel’s fishing owl, as well as a variety of kingfishers, storks and other riverine birds. More than this, guests at Abelana River Lodge will experience the magical, calming effect that being on the water lends to an African safari – an experience all too rare in this water-scarce and largely arid part of South Africa. The rains usually come in November each year, bringing with them a period of intense greenery and new life, as the bush thickens and most of the animals give birth, taking advantage of this time of plenty. During the rainy season the wilderness is transformed from the parched hues of the dry season to lush shades of emerald and green, with trees and shrubs flowering everywhere. The air is full of life with insects and summer migrant birds arrive to help the local birdlife feast on them. This is when the rest of Abelana catches up to the Selati, and joins it in a festival of abundance. It’s a wonderful time to visit, especially for birders, so we hope you can join us and enjoy it with us.

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