Cobham Nature Reserve Hot
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Cobham Nature Reserve is located in the southern Maloti-Drakensberg Transfrontier Park that encompasses afro-montane and grassland habitats. The Maloti-Drakensberg is known for its rugged and spectacular mountain scenery and is a haven for hikers.

In addition to its spectacular scenery the region is also well rewarded as being one of only 23 sites in the world that holds prestigious World Heritage Status for both its biodiversity and for its cultural heritage. It has also been identified as one of seven world Biodiversity Hot Spots and is an international RAMSAR wetland site, supplying water to a large percentage of the South African population.

The weather plays an extremely important role in the shaping of the basalt and sandstone formations that stand out proud in the landscape at Cobham Nature Reserve. In summer, dramatic thunder and lightening operas play along the escarpment, while during the winter month’s snow and fire can ravage across the landscape.

These weather patterns also play a huge part in the structure of the two main vegetation zones each with their own unique plant communities – these are namely the Alti-montain Biome, which ranges from 2500m – 3480m above sea level and the Afro-montane Grassland Biome, which ranges from 1700m – 2500m above sea level. Within each of these zones different bird species occur.



Best Time to Photograph
Spring and summer are definitely the best for birding as this is when many species are displaying for breeding and the migrants are also present. Late summer is also an excellent time for viewing and photographing the wide variety of flowers that are present. Winter provides different scenery and although being generally dull and drab is particularly worthwhile when heavy snows fall.
Type of Photography
  • Birds
  • Flowers
  • Landscapes
  • Insects
Best Time of Year
  • Summer
  • Spring
Photographic Tips
Given that there are no access roads into the Drakensberg apart from the road up Sani Pass, hiking with a backpack is the only way to reach suitable photographic spots. It is therefore worth planning well in advance exactly what you wish to photograph and then plan accordingly as to how long it will take to reach the location. It is worth rising early before the dawn to maximize the early morning light for photography. Birds are generally shy away from the campsites but rare or seldom seen species do make carrying long lenses worthwhile and where possible.
Recommended Gear
A good backpack is essential in the Drakensberg and zoom lenses minimize the amount of equipment that needs to be carried. Wide angled zooms are essential for landscapes as is a macro lens for flower and insect photography. Monopods are useful and can also be used as a hiking support stick. Given that weather conditions can change rapidly, always carry good water-proof coverings for your camera bag. Be well prepared at all times for changing weather and carry extra food, liquids, sunscreen, a hat and warm clothing.


Site Highlights
Pholela River valley
Sani Pass
Farm dams between Himeville and Cobham


Season and Weather
Summer months are warm with afternoon thunderstorms while winters are cold and heavy snows can fall. Be aware that weather changes rapidly in the Drakensberg and all four seasons can occur in a single day. Heavy snow has been recorded to fall in the middle of summer.
Other Activities
  • Bird Watching
  • Hiking
  • Flowers


Closest Town
Getting There
From the N3 take the R617 to Underberg and Himeville. On entering Himeville, follow the signage to Cobham and Sani Pass.
Cobham Nature Reserve


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Peter Chadwick
Author: Peter ChadwickWebsite: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
As a dedicated conservationist, Peter Chadwick has 30 years strategic and operational conservation experience in terrestrial and marine protected area management. He has worked within all of the major biomes in southern Africa as well as having provided expert conservation advice at a global level. His conservation and wildlife photography is a natural extension to his conservation work where he has numerous opportunities to capture photographs that showcase the beauty and complexity of the outdoors. Peter’s photography is internationally recognized, with this work appearing globally in a wide range of print and electronic media.