What Is Sondela Nature Reserve?

Alex Paul

The Sondela Nature Reserve is an animal welfare center and tourist attraction in South Africa. Its main purpose is to rehabilitate injured or sick animals — especially those that have been orphaned in the wild. Tourists can visit the sick animals to learn more about them and take part in a number of activities, such as quad biking and paintballing. Full accommodation for tourists is provided at the reserve, and it is one of the most luxurious nature reserves in the country.

Archery is an activity found at the Sondela Nature Reserve.
Archery is an activity found at the Sondela Nature Reserve.

Situated toward the north of South Africa, Sondela Nature Reserve is said to be one of the most popular inland tourist attractions in the country. The reserve is around a 90-minute drive from the city of Johannesburg and is part of the Bushveld — a woodland region of South Africa. It also is within an area of Africa that’s free from malaria, which significantly reduces tourists' risk of disease.

Located in northern South Africa, Sondela Nature Reserve is one of the most popular inland tourist attractions in the country.
Located in northern South Africa, Sondela Nature Reserve is one of the most popular inland tourist attractions in the country.

Although the Sondela Nature Reserve plays an important role in conserving wildlife and educating people on how to care for injured animals, it is primarily a tourist attraction. For this reason, it includes a number of adventurous activities, such as quad biking and archery. It also is possible to go on a horse safari, which includes activities such as rounding up cattle, staying out in the field overnight and learning how to cook using nothing but a fire.

There are a number of high-quality lodges and other types of accommodation within the Sondela Nature Reserve. The chalets at the park have been given a four-star rating, and there also is an area for trailers. For those who want a more luxurious experience than most African nature reserves are able to provide, there is a salon and beauty parlor on site. Other attractions at the Sondela Nature Reserve include a farm — where visitors can meet a number of farm animals — a heated swimming pool and organized games for entertainment.

The main purpose of the wildlife center at the Sondela Nature Reserve is to care for animals that are injured or sick. It also provides an opportunity for tourists to get close to animals that are either sick or have been raised as orphans in captivity after being found in the wild. The wildlife center is one of the biggest attractions at the reserve, providing visitors with a rare insight into the lives of wild animals that are otherwise usually only seen from a distance.

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Discussion Comments


@jmc88 - I agree with that assessment and feel that the issue of unscrupulousness among nature reserves in Africa is a bit blown out of proportion. However, what I will say about these nature preserves is that I feel that they do not necessarily provide a true African experience and instead provide a more tourist-like way of viewing the savannah of Africa.

Seeing the amenities that are provided by this particular nature preserve shows that they see this as a marketable enterprise that provides for the interest of the tourist in their curiosity expressed towards the animals and their willingness to pay a lot of money to see them, without sacrificing luxury in order to do so.

I can see that a lot of the money is probably used to fund the facility, but in the end it is still a business and the people working need to be paid. The Reserve is still a place of business and it all comes down to what the priorities of the facility are and how close they follow them.


@cardsfan27 - I have heard of instances where very small nature preserves in Africa are used in an unscrupulous manner in which they simply exploit the animals for monetary gain and do not adequetely provide for their needs.

However, this is extremely rare and it is not at all common for this to happen so most of the nature reserves in Africa are on the up and up.

I would say there are a lot of international agencies that are out there to provide the necessary administration in order to make sure that the animals are properly cared for and it is not really a front just to make money.


@matthewc23 - I agree with you to a certain extent. Most of the nature reserves in Africa look to provide a service to the animals and try to keep them around in the wild and they only capitalize off of people's curiosity towards the animals by accepting the money they pay to run the facility and provide care for the animals.

Although I am sure there are some places in Africa that care for animals that are unscrupulous, for the most part they do see this as a legitimate business enterprise as well as a service that they need to provide for the animals.


I think that it is fantastic that this nature preserve provides both a serious area for science to help treat sick animals in Africa as well as provide an experience for tourist to see the animals and learn more about them.

I usually feel like places like this in Africa tend to exploit the animals in order to cash in on the tourists fascination with animals that are only native to Africa. However, this is obviously not the case as this particular nature preserve provides a service to both nature and for people's entertainment and curiosity.

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