Water gives us life.

At the southern tip of Africa, people and wildlife depend on an intricate water network.


The Nuwejaars wetlands, and the rivers and underground water arteries that feed them, are at the heart of this network.


A group of worried landowners and Agulhas Plain residents in South Africa saw how these wetlands started disappearing. And how nature and people suffered.

And so we formed the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area.

Today we have 25 landowners, and the town of Elim, working together over 46,000 hectares in the Plain, to protect our water systems, and the biodiversity-rich landscapes all around them. The Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area (or SMA) is a new way of protecting nature and all its complex ecosystems on private land in the Overberg municipal region.

It’s a conservation model new to South Africa.

We’ve committed to conservation and sustainable farming by signing title deed restrictions. That means that we’ll forever protect this biodiversity hotspot, while still supporting food security in South Africa through our sustainable farming. While we’ve tested the model here in the Overberg, it’s now being replicated in other parts of South Africa – with wonderful success.


Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of our connected communities are jobless, and are going hungry. Urgent action is needed.


To help bring stability to people in the Agulhas Plain, we MUST stand together. As the NWSMA, we want to partner with YOU, to bring hope to society. And we can do this THROUGH NATURE.

That’s why we’re launching 2 innovative programmes:

  • To provide 30,000 NUTRITIOUS MEALS PER MONTH to the most vulnerable of our communities at Africa’s southernmost tip;
  • Creating jobs opportunities

But now we need YOUR help make this dream blossom.




You’ve got to see this area for yourself.

If you love the outdoors, the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area offers a natural world you won’t see anywhere else. It’s a paradise for birders, with the Agulhas Plains birding project identifying 235 species. There are a range of places to overnight – from more rustic and private accommodation, to luxurious homes and cottages. The Nuwejaars Wetlands members include wineries in the Elim Wine Route.

Our Nuwejaars Wetlands Wildlife Guided Tours

Experience the magical natural world of the Nuwejaars Wetlands. Join our Wildlife Guided Tours, close to Africa’s southernmost tip. TOURS RUN TWICE A DAY, EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK. 

See big game ‘up close’, like Buffalo and Hippo (both reintroduced here, after being hunted to extinction 200 years ago). See smaller game, like Bontebok and Rau Quagga. Wonder through bursts of ethereal colours in our Fynbos landscapes. Or enjoy this birding hotspot, with species like Black Harriers and Blue Cranes.

The Wildlife Guided Tours are hosted by the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area, and are led by a trained guide. (And be sure to bring your camera, binoculars, walking shoes, and maybe your raincoat, just in case.)

Our Nuwejaars Wetlands Wildlife Guided Tours are suspended:

In the light of the threat of the #Coronavirus, the NWSMA team has cancelled the Wildlife Tours for the time being; as well as our Environmental Education tours. We’ll keep a close eye as to when we can relaunch these.

During these uneasy and testing times, we hope that you’ll stay safe.

Here’s the schedule:


Morning Wildlife Tour

(R350/person, and half price for children aged 12 and under)

Meet at the Black Oystercatcher at 8.30am, for a 2-3 hour trip through the Nuwejaars Wetlands SMA, including coffee and rusks – overseen by our trained guide. 

Sunset Wildlife Tour

(R400/person, and half price for children aged 12 and under)

Meet at the Black Oystercatcher at 5pm, for a 2 hour trip to a lovely, secretive lake, including sundowners at this sunset viewpoint. Hippos live in this lake, and could pop by for a visit (this trip is overseen by our trained guide).


THE TOURS RUN THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, 7 DAYS A WEEK (except on 24 & 25 December, and 1 January). 

Booking is essential

  book@nuwejaars.com
  076 833 6341

School outings to experience the Nuwejaars nature


The Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area is home to awe-inspiring animals and plants. That’s why we want to showcase our natural world, to provide children with the chance to experience these wonders for themselves.

From rural farm schools, to larger Overberg-based schools, we’re hosting outings for school groups to connect with nature. Children can enjoy a full outdoors programme organised by our Nuwejaars team, which includes safe, age-appropriate and interactive lessons and adventures.

Why is the Agulhas Plain so important?

The Cape Floral Kingdom covers much of the landscape around the Nuwejaars wetlands and rivers.

Highly threatened lowland fynbos grows here – home to plant species found nowhere else in the world.

This critical habitat also gives life to globally threatened birds. Birds like the Southern Black Korhaan, Secretarybird and Hottentot Buttonquail thrive here.

 That’s why the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area forms part of an Important Bird and Biodiversity Area.

The Special Management Area is the original home of the Bontebok – once nearly extinct. Now we’ve brought them back.

And we’ve reintroduced Buffalo, Hippo and Hartebeest – once extinct on the Agulhas Plain.

Conservation Highlights
A good news story: The Agulhas Long-billed Lark

A good news story: The Agulhas Long-billed Lark

For the FIRST TIME, a detailed study has sought to capture the number of Agulhas Long-billed Larks (Certhilauda brevirostris) that remain in the world today.The Agulhas Plain is a stronghold for

Conservation Corridors: Look what we found

Conservation Corridors: Look what we found

If we know how animals are moving across the landscape, we can protect those secret corridors they make use of. And it allows us to improve highly degraded corridor links, in order to reconnect

SMA Annual Report 2019/20 available

SMA Annual Report 2019/20 available

“2019 must surely go down as one of the most exciting years for the Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area. Globally this has been a time of extreme loss: natural habitats are being removed

Every day we ...

Protect our nature

The Nuwejaars Wetlands Special Management Area (SMA) is found within a biodiversity hotspot – the Agulhas Plain, at the southernmost tip of Africa.

Support social wellbeing

The Nuwejaars Wetlands SMA employs six people permanently, two Conservation Managers and four in our maintenance team.



Promote Tourism

The region's rare fynbos and renosterveld, and distinctive wildlife are ideal for nature lovers. The cultural heritage of the Plain is rich, with the missionary town of Elim a must-see for tourists.




Access our biodiversity

If we want to reach social and environmental sustainability, the Nuwejaars Wetland Special Management Area must achieve economic sustainability.


Teaching about nature

School outings are now being hosted to the Nuwejaars Wetlands SMA, where children can connect with this wondrous, intricate natural world.  


Sustainable Agriculture

Traditionally private landowners in the Overberg have made their income from agricultural activities, like grain and livestock farming.

Thank you to our sponsors


Thank you to our sponsors

Harry & Dorinda Moore

We work with


We work with


We work with


We work with