Verloren Valei Nature Reserve

Verloren Valei is a closed nature reserve situated on the Steenkampsberg Plateau near Dullstroom in Mpumalanga, South Africa. The two farms, Verloren Valei and Wanhoop, were bought with the help of the WWF and the Rupert Family and the 6055 ha reserve was proclaimed in 1983. In 2003 the Verloren Valei wetland system of approximately 850 ha of wetland was declared a Ramsar* site. The Ramsar site boundaries correspond with the boundaries of the reserve.

For South Africa this is a high altitude reserve with the lowest point at about 2050m above sea-level and the highest point at 2214m. The reserve falls in the summer rainfall climate region of South Africa and consists mainly of montane grassland. Montane grassland is considered as one of the most threatened biotopes in South Africa. These grasslands are rich in plant and animal species, with many of these species being endemic.

Friends of Verloren Valei Non-Profit Organisation 162-813 NPO
WESSA Affiliation No. MB 1241427

 Verloren Valei Smaller 01

A Biodiversity Hotspot among Trout Dams?

Plant Life

The grasslands consist of mainly so called sour grass. This means that the grasses draw the nutrients down into the roots towards late summer and the grasses then have very little nutritional value. With these drawn down reserves the grasses are able to sprout very quickly in spring - especially after a fire. They then also have great nutritional value to browsing animals..

Although these areas are referred to as grassland, the veld also contains a large number of other plants and forage herbs. Verloren Valei itself is very rich in plant diversity ranging from aloes and arums to proteas and orchids.

The wetlands of Verloren Valei exhibits a near-pristine state of vegetation and include good examples of a natural wetland characteristic of the Steenkampsberg Plateau.



Only terrestrial orchids occur in Verloren Valei. It is too cold in winter for any significant number of trees and epiphytes to grow in the reserve. About 55 species of orchids in 11 genera have been recorded in the reserve. Some of the species occur in large colonies. The conservation status of this area has helped in increasing the number of colonies as well as the number of plants in a colony. New species are discovered nearly every year even though the survey was already started in 1989. Certain areas have not yet been properly surveyed due to inaccessibility.

One or two species of orchids start flowering at the end of September. Different species flower at different times right from September right up to the end of April. The peak flowering time is from the end of December to the beginning February.



Theoretically Verloren Valei is easy to access by the public, but in practice the reserve is difficult to visit. It is a closed reserve, which means an appointment has to be made to visit the reserve and a guide must accompany visitors. The guide should theoretically be provided by the reserve. In many cases the telephone does not work at Verloren Valei. There are no guides available and one is dependent on a guide from another area. In reality only one guide exists and he is the previous reserve manager. He resides in Dullstroom and is not always available as he has a full-time job with the Mpumalanga Tourism and Parks Agency (MTPA) and he has to act as a guide in his own time. Three specialists orchid guides exist, but these reside in Nelspruit, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

The entrance to the reserve is on the De Berg road. The turn-off from the Dullstroom Lydenburg road is about 7 km outside Dullstroom. The entrance is about 8 km along this road on the left just after passing a dam on the left and another one on the right. The road up to this point is reasonable but may be difficult to drive on when wet. If one passes the reserve entrance gate on the left the De Berg road passes through the reserve and one of the best spots to look for orchids is on the edges of the vlei on the left of the road. Unfortunately the road from the entrance gate turn off can be muddy in wet weather and getting stuck with a vehicle is a distinct possibility.


Species List

Verloren Valei Orchid Species List and flowering times Verloren_Valei_Species.pdf


Verloren Valei Guided Field Trips

It is with great pleasure that we announce the following dates for Guided Field Trips to Verloren Valei. Verloren Valei is a closed reserve which means visits can only be made by appointment and under the control of a guide. We are hoping that we will be able to train up resident guides over this summer which will make visits a lot easier.

We will limit the size of groups to a maximum of 25 people. Bookings can be made through Joey Kok This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Joey will confirm your bookings and send the consolidated list to Gerrit This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. or Frans This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. as the case may be. The cost of the visit will be R150 per person,which includes entrance to the reserve. Please pay the guide cash upon arrival.

Travel time to Dullstroom from Pretoria or Johannesburg is 3 hours and we will meet at Milly's (details later ) at 9 am and depart in Convoy to Verloren Valei. Visitors should depart not later than 3 pm to arrive home when it is still light. Try and make up parties of 4 people to share transport costs. 

The new guide Flowers of Verloren Valei by Gerrit van Ede illustrates and describes 114 wild flowers and 66 orchids that occur in the reserve. The price of the guide is R170 and will be available from Gerrit or Frans. The proceeds of sales goes to Friends of Verloren Valei to improve the reserve.


1 December 2018:  Susan Abel and Geoff Lockwood offer an opportunity to come to grips with the birds and wildflowers of Verloren Valei.
8 December 2018:  Lepidopterists’ Society of SA leads a group to explore the butterflies of summer.
26 January 2019:    Enjoy “A Botanical Ramble in Verloren Vallei with a Plant Enthusiast”. The plant enthusiast in question is John Burrows. John is the managing trustee of Buffelskloof Private Nature Reserve near Mashishing, and has authored several papers on botanical subjects, as well as books and chapters in books.

Visiting Verloren Valei

Verloren Valei is a RAMSAR Wetland site.

Please be aware that the weather conditions in the reserve are extremely variable from hot dry weather to cold misty or rainy weather.

We recommend you take the following items with you if you are visiting the reserve.

  • Binoculars
  • Hat
  • Windbreaker
  • Raincoat / Jacket
  • Lunch pack / snacks
  • Sufficient liquid refreshments to keep hydrated
  • Gumboots and/or sturdy walking shoes
  • Change of clothes and a set of warm clothes
  • Sunscreen
  • Walking stick
  • Camera


The meeting point at Milly’s is in the Critchley Corner parking area at the end of town opposite Rose Cottage Restaurant and petrol garage. We will proceed to the reserve in convoy from the meeting point.

Corner of Hugenoten Street (main road through Dullstroom ) & Teding van Berghout Street.

GPS Coordinates:

Degrees, Minutes, Seconds: 25o 25’ 02.20” S; 30o 06’ 32.16” E
Degrees, Decimal Minutes 25o 25.038’ S; 30o 6.535’ E

Friends of Verloren Valei Non-Profit Organisation 162-813 NPO
WESSA Affiliation No. MB 1241427

Verloren Valei Reserve Manager Tel:0132540799 or 0836086883

Guide at Dullstroom : Mr Frans Krige Tel:084 2322 902

The Convention on Wetlands of International Importance is called the Ramsar Convention. It is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources.

 Information and photo supplied by Gerrit van Ede


For more information regarding the preservation of South Africa's wild Orchids or if you would like to get involved please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or complete this short form Contact Us and we will contact you.

Help support our conservation objectives on by making a donation.