The 530-ha Modjadji Nature Reserve, situated in the Bolobedu district of Lebowa north-east of Duiwelskloof, boasts one of the most fascinating population of plants seen in Southern Africa. Once the main diet of the prehistoric mammal-like reptiles that lived here, the Modjadji cycad (Encephalartos transvenosus) forms a unique natural forest which can be viewed in its prehistoric state thanks to its strict protection by succeeding generations of modjadji ('rain queens'), the hereditary rulers in the area.
In fact, here the visitor has the privilege of experiencing the 'Alice in Wonderland' atmosphere of the largest concentration of a single cycad species in the world. These protected plant species not only grow in profusion in the area, but are giants in the genus of 29 species, with specimens up 10-13 m high, and bearing cones that may weigh up to 34 kg. December to February sees many of these strange plants in seed.
The setting is superb. When mist does not obscure the view, the visitor gazes over the cycad forest to the lowveld and the Kruger National Park. Approximately 12 km of well-constructed walks drop from the cycad forest to the acacia and grassveld below where large game such as blue wildebeest, waterbuck, nyala, impala and bushbuck, and over 170 species of birds live.
The lands of the Modjadji tribe, a matriarchal society that has produced five rain queens (only women are allowed to enter the village), surround the reserve, and the traditional vernacular, architecture and culture seen on the reserve's periphery add interest to your visit. Permits must be obtained at the entrance to the reserve. Facilities include an information centre, kiosk, picnic and braai sites.