The Blog

Bloemfontein Wildlife at Franklin Game Reserve

On a recent visit to Bloemfontein, I learned about the location of the Franklin Game Reserve. I’d always imagined it on the outskirts of town – a natural addendum to the city’s attractions – but then happened to discover, completely by chance, that it’s actually located in the heart of the city! I travel here frequently – I know, I know, don’t judge me for not paying attention all the previous times – and chanced to book my accommodation in Bloemfontein near Naval Hill. One of the B&B’s boasted having a view of the Franklin Nature Reserve, and that’s when the penny dropped…

The Franklin Game Reserve is one of the iconic gems of Bloemfontein. It is only the second instance in the whole world where a nature reserve is located at the heart of the city – the other instance being in Hong Kong. As soon as you know this, it’s difficult to consider it any other way – how could a 250 hectare reserve do so well in an urban area? But it does.

Animal spotting and wildlife tracking is very popular at the Franklin, but it’s also an ideal place to get a handle on all the indigenous plant and bird life here. I never thought of myself as such an avid birder, but I bought a pair of binoculars and I doubt they’ll leave my side while I’m here… I might also just stay an extra day to take advantage of the fact that I’m so close to the wild animals and see if I can spot them all.

Speaking of which, it’s possible to walk around in the reserve and spot animals on foot, but the reserve people do advise to pair up and walk with at least two people for the sake of safety. There are beautiful giraffe and zebra, as well as springbuck and blue wildebeest in the park… oh, and a white horse. The Wiltshire White Horse was constructed out of rocks and painted white to let the British cavalry (in the Anglo-Boer War) know which way to go.

While we’re talking about the war, it’s also quite cool that you can take a day drive up Naval Hill, from where you experience an amazing view of the whole city and beyond. This really is a beautiful place – a nature reserve right in the middle of Bloem. Maybe I’ll ask work to transfer me here for good…