Ecology & Reserve
Tillietudlem is a part of one of the most threatened eco-systems in Africa – the mist-belt (or mountain) grasslands. A huge proportion of the grasslands biome has already been modified, mostly under forestry or arable agriculture, and only 2,2% of the South Africa’s montain grassland biome is under formal conservation, despite it being one of the world’s most bio-diverse habitats, hosting a plethora of wild flowers and grasses, greater than the acclaimed cape fynbos. The bio diversity of the eco-system support a huge array of animal and bird species that come to feast on the treasures it holds.
The owner and management of Tillietudlem are passionately committed to protecting and encouraging the conservation of the area. Although the vast majority of Tillietudlem is in pristine virgin condition we have to continually fight the encroachment of invasive alien plants and are returning previously farmed areas to natural grassland.
A visit to Tillietudlem will expose you to much of this bio-diversity should you take even a short walk in the open grassland or indigenous forests. You cannot help but stumble across many of nature’s treasures here, from the largest of all antelope species, the gracious and majestic Eland, to the delicate wild flowers along the banks of the rivers.
Tillietudlem hosts most of the wild game that would have occurred in this area naturally, and it is managed to optimize the variety and well-being of all species.
The reserve is home to large herds of African game animals including eland, zebra, blue wildebeest, waterbuck, and blesbok, plus family groups of endangered small antelope species such as Oribi, Vaal Reebok and mountain reedbuck.
The quiet observer may have the chance to see some of our smaller no less interesting animals such as porcupine, ant bears and mongoose or illusive predators including: mountain leopard, caracal, serval, genet and black back jackal.
We are proud to be home to a large and healthy population of cape clawless and spotted necked otter species, which will often be found frolicking in the dams and along the rivers. Tillietudlem is one of the most pristine otter habitats in Africa and we are proud to help and protect our aquatic friends.
Tillietudlem is an official "Birder Friedly Establishment". Due to the diversity of habitats at Tillietudlem, including wetlands, grasslands, indigenous forest, open waters and rivers, the bird life is bountiful, from the tiny sunbirds to the commanding secretary birds.
Whether you are an avid twitcher or a novice birding enthusiast, you will definitely be able to add to your checklist, hopefully including a number of rare, protected or endangered birds which includes: crowned blue and blue cranes, blue swallows, cape parrots and half-colared kingfishers. It is remarkable to think that the reserve has 5 different king fishers and three species of sun birds.
For those interested in raptors Tillietudlem is truly a Pandora’s box with more than seven species of eagles, five species of buzzards, kites, harriers, kestrels, hawks and vultures. You may even be fortunate enough to see the massive secretary birds hunting as they stride through the grassland.
Even a short walk from the Ogram’s lodge along otter creek and waterbuck dam will provide the chance to see unique and fascinating birds who nest and feed in the area. Perhaps you will witness the first flight of a newly reared spoonbill chick, or a raid on a colony of market weavers by a hungry gymnogene, while the eerie cry of a fish eagle fills the air.
Flowers & Trees
Tillietudlem has to be one of the destinations for the keen botanist, keen on exploring the area for the rarest and endangered species, and Tillietudlem is acclaimed as hosting one of the richest and most diverse flora sanctuaries. However, even the casual walker will be enthralled with the variety of wild flowers that abound the grasslands, river banks and wetlands. Every season seems to introduce a new set of blooms, making a visit at any time of the year a pleasure.
Tillietudlem is truly a wonderland for the keen botanist with many thousands of different wild flowers, shrubs, trees and grass species many of which have been exported around the world (agapanthus, gladioli, arum lilies, grass orchids and Watsonias).
The reserve has several areas of indigenous hardwood forest with a wide variety of trees, shrubs and plants which thrive in the climate of the area. For those prepared to walk into the mountains there is the prize of seeing the protea forest and the aloe gorge. Come and be amazed by this secret jewel of nature.
Tillietudlem boasts 4 fine dams with strong, healthy rainbow and brown trout.We have a catch and release policy, and request fishing with barbless hooks. Our record to date is a 4.2 kg rainbow, but many a bigger fish has been lost (according to the fisherman!).
If you are not a fisherman, then perhaps a gentle ramble over the hills on horseback would be your first choice. (We recommend that our horses are not for complete novices though)
The sparkling waters of Tillietudlem will have you dipping into the rivers and dams on a hot summers day - there is nothing nicer!
DirectionsSOUTH GATE (RECOMMENDED ROUTE) - From N3 - Take the Howick South/Underberg (exit 99)off ramp and head for Underberg (via Boston) on R617 - Pass through Boston village and after 6 kms turn right onto Impendle Road (signposted Impendle) - After 6,5 kms pass Coquidale Farm on your left - Continue for another 500 metres and the South Gate is on your right (please be careful as this turn off is on a corner) IMPORTANT - the South Gate is usually locked and arrangements must be made with Tillietudlem management for it to be unlocked (033 234 9045) NORTH GATE: Take the Howick North/Tweedie off ramp from the N3. Turn towards Nottingham Road/Mooi River. At Lions River, on the R103, take the Dargle/Impendle road, (P130), and continue for 19 km along a tar road. After the road turns to gravel, travel a further 6km, pass the Boston Underberg Turnoff. Travel a further 5 km and take the D522 turnoff and travel another 7km to Tillietudlem Trout and Game Lodge.