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.
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 Agulhas Wine Triangle.
Our Nuwejaars Wetlands Wildlife Guided Tours – Tours Closed for the winter season
Join our Nuwejaars Wildlife Guided Tours, close to Africa’s southernmost tip – the ONLY tours in the Overberg to provide wildlife experiences with big game like Buffalo and Hippo.
You’ll head into a secret wetland and lake expanse, where game, birds and flora flourish. This photographic tour is on private land – and is not otherwise open to the public. The Nuwejaars Wetlands SMA is one of the largest private conservation ventures in the district, sharing a border with the Agulhas National Park.
The Wildlife Guided Tours are led by a trained guide. (And be sure to bring your camera, binoculars, walking shoes, and maybe your raincoat, just in case.)
Tours closed for the winter season
Morning Wildlife Tour
(R400/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
(R450/person, and R200 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).
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.
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
The 2.30am sighting that had visitors flocking to the SMA
Farmer Liohan Giliomee (a member of the Nuwejaars SMA) saw them for the first time at 2.30 in the morning. He was preparing his land to plant grain on it.
The survival of the bontebok: A Bredasdorp success story
The bontebok is one of a handful of antelope species endemic to South Africa. It was once considered to be the rarest antelope in the world. But few people realise there is a local
Our changing Agulhas Plain: Life and extinction
The Palaeolithic Period covers the time from 2,5 million years ago to about 10 000 years BCE which was also the middle stone-age period. The graph below shows how during the last 300 000 years
Every day we ...
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.
Traditionally private landowners in the Overberg have made their income from agricultural activities, like grain and livestock farming.