The Waterberg is more than three million years old, as confirmed by archaeological finds and San paintings. Parts from an Iron Age mine-shaft found in the Rooiberg area west of Bela-Bela gave a radio-carbon date of approximately 1500 AD.
The Waterberg region is one of the richest areas of mineral deposits in the world, and forms part of the Bushveld Igneous Complex – a unique complex of volcanic rocks formed more than 600 million years ago – considered to be one of the geological wonders of the world.
The region has a long history of human occupation and has been inhabited by a succession of people over hundreds of thousands of years. From Stone Age people, to the San (Bushmen), Khoikhoi herders and Iron Age people, all have left their traces in the form of paintings or iron smelting furnaces.
The San people entered the Waterberg region around two thousand years ago. They left their wondrous rock paintings in the Waterberg, including depictions of rhinoceros and antelope.
The Waterberg is rapidly emerging as one of the most important San rock art sites in South Africa
The first white settlers arrived in 1808 on course of their Groot Trek (the Great Trek) northward.
The African Ivory Route, which has its origins in the legendary exploits of early ivory hunters and gold traders, runs through the Waterberg region.
Today the route is an important ecotourism and 4×4 adventure destination. Passing through rugged terrain and stunning wilderness areas, the route offers scenic camps, exciting off-road tracks and various additional adventure opportunities for safari enthusiasts. The route will appeal especially to those who love the allure of the African wilderness. There are many curative hot mineral springs throughout the Waterberg region, where visitors can relax and enjoy a sense of well-being.