Morning Sun Nature Reserve

The Call of Nature

Be one of the few to enjoy the solitude of this untouched bush.

Explore and discover the natural beauty and wonders of this natural heritage site, Morning Sun Nature Reserve in a malaria free area. From the spectacular scenic Soutpansberg Mountains and valleys, streams and rock pools, diverse wildlife and plant species to past Venda culture and mythology.

Walk freely through the reserve and study the diversity of plants and trees, variety of antelope and other mammals, and the abundance of birds. Join our resident guide who will share his knowledge of this intricate ecosystem and share stories of the Venda people and their use of nature in a sustainable and responsible manner for medicines and food.

Morning Sun Nature Reserve falls within the projected Soutpansberg Biosphere region and forms part of the envisaged Golden Horse Shoe Nature Conservation and Peace park Complex. Included in this complex is Mapungubwe National Park, which is an archaeological World Heritage Site.

The reserve offering stunning scenic views, indigenous forests, waterfalls, rivers and rock pools is situated just North of Louis Trichardt and in the heart of the Soutpansberg Mountains.

Location

Being just off the N1 makes it ideal for those passing through, on business or wanting to experience nature in our 3000 ha Morning Sun Nature Reserve or to explore the area.

Being close to Louis Trichardt and accessible from the N1, Mashovhela Lodge is tucked away in a beautiful valley in the heart of the Soutpansberg Mountains, in Morning Sun Nature Reserve an area which has been declared a Natural Heritage site.
Venture into this mythical wilderness, with misty peaks, deep valleys, sparkling streams and rock pools, unique in its grandeur and scenic beauty.

The Soutpansberg Mountains dominate the Northern reaches of South Africa. A paradise with many endemic trees, plants and butterflies interwoven with Venda culture, sacred forests and hidden lakes.

Temperatures

In the Soutpansberg temperature is strongly associated with seasonal conditions and topography of the mountain range. 

Warm Wet Season (WWS) —end of Dec–end of Feb. Temperatures are relatively warm, ranging from 20 degrees Centigrade to 35 °C.

Cool Dry Winter Season (CDS) — June–Aug. Temperatures range from 12–25 °C. Cool during the day and sometimes chilly cold at night.

Rainfall Season

The area receives one cycle of rainfall that can start from October of the previous year but usually only start as from January and ends in March. The dry season runs from April to October (Or even until December)

Rainfall distribution is greatly influenced by the Soutpansberg Mountain. In the eastern part of the Soutpansberg’s annual rainfall can reach 2 000 mm (Sacred forest region) and in the western part of the Soutpansberg rainfall can be as low as 340 mm.

Morning Sun Nature Reserve lies in the centre of this mountain range thus enjoys an average of 1000mm during January to March when the rain is at its peak season.

Geology

Experience the scenic beauty of the Soutpansberg Mountains, one of the oldest mountain ranges in Africa

The extremely hard reddish brown quartzite rocks, cliffs of which dominate the landscape of Morning Sun Nature Reserve, were deposited about 1 800 million years ago in the form of sandstone and bands of conglomerate which underwent intense metamorphism. The red colour is formed by iron oxide. This is evidence of the earliest known occurrence of oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere caused by the evolution of plant life capable of photosynthesis.

In places the quartzite is interrupted by several intrusions, mainly of dolerite (diabase), the weathering of which gave rise to localised rich clay soils.

The Soutpansberg Mountains were formed by successive ESE-WSW faulting, which began 2 700 million years ago by the seismic action of the Limpopo mobile belt. Much more recent block-faulting, less than 150 million years ago caused the strata to dip to the north and rise in the south, forming the main cliff lines which are south-facing, with northern sides dipping at about 45.

The Soutpansberg strata became overlain by mostly softer Karoo sediments which became eroded away, in part by rivers flowing in a northerly direction. When these rivers wore down to the hard Soutpansberg strata, they continued along their original paths, giving rise to gorges traversing the E-W-striking hard quartzite ridges. The Sand River to the west and Wyllie’s Poort to the north-east of Morning Sun Nature Reserve are examples of this phenomenon, likewise the southern arm of the stream feeding the big waterfall and from there leading via Mashovhela rock pool towards Wyllie’s Poort.

 

Biological Diversity

The Soutpansberg Mountains is recognized as a centre of endemism and biodiversity with nearly 600 different trees, of which almost 400 occur in the Reserve, as well as thousands of other floral species.

Due largely to two decades of research by Dr Norbert Hahn, the Soutpansberg is now recognized as one of the world’s top biodiversity hot spots. As one of the earliest registered Natural Heritage Sites (No. 89), Morningsun Nature Reserve is proud to share in this distinction.

Flora: 595 tree species identified in the region, almost 400 of which occur in the Reserve. 1066 floral genera, close on 3000 taxa.

Walk freely through this reserve in the Soutpansberg Mountains and study the vast diversity of plants and trees.

Wildlife

Discover the big, the small and the fascinating animals essential to this natural ecosystem in the Soutpansberg.

Morning Sun Nature reserve is home to a wide diversity of wildlife from the massive eland to the small elephant shrew all playing a vital role in this unique ecosystem.

The lesser known zebra, namely the Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra roam the hills and Dassies sun bath on the cliffs minding the attention of the Black Eagles soaring above.

As the sun begins to set the more secretive nocturnal animals, such as Leopard, Brown Hyena as well as Bush Pig, Porcupine, Aardvark and Pangolin, become more active and the cute bush babies can be seen and heard foraging in the trees.

Our Extended Family

  • Antelope: 19 species sighted on Morningsun Reserve alone (including rare Sharp’s Grysbok, Red Duiker, Sable, Tsessebe and Cape Eland)
  • Predators: Leopard, Brown Hyena, Honey Badger and numerous other feline and canine as well as mongoose and other species.
  • Primates: 5 species regionally and 4 locally (namely charismatic Greater and Lesser Bush Babies, Vervet Monkeys and Chacma Baboons)
  • Zebra: Hartmann’s Mountain Zebra
  • Pigs: Warthog and Bush Pig
  • Hyrax: Rock Dassie, Yellow-spotted Rock Dassie and Tree Dassie
  • Erdvark: (antbear, aardvark)
  • Pangolin: (M. temminckii)
  • Rodents: porcupines, giant rat (C. gambianus), greater cane rat (T. swinderianus), numerous smaller species of the rat and mice families, ground and tree squirrels, shrews (including rare four-toed elephant shrew (P. cearadactylus beirae)
  • Bats: numerous species
  • Reptiles and Amphibia: Tortoises, Lizards, Geckos, Chameleons and Frogs, of which at least 8 are endemic to the region.
  • Insects, spiders and scorpions: The diversity of butterflies in the region mirrors the diversity of its plant life. More than 300 species of butterflies occur in the region of 95 genera, 6 main families and 19 subfamilies. As regards moth species, as many as 3000 species are believed to exist in the region