The Magaliesberg area is a uniquely South African natural treasure. Stretching between Gauteng and the North West province, it starts about an hour outside Johannesburg, and extends all the way to Pilanesberg and Rustenburg.
Its rich biodiversity offers a habitat for over 130 tree species. 90 mammal species. 80 reptile and amphibian species. and over 450 different birds (almost half of the avian species found in South Africa). It’s a favourite country escape for city dwellers. and offers a choice of woodland, mountain. savannah and bushveld terrain – making it a popular destination for mountain bikers, hikers and rock climbers.
The ravines and waterfalls are equally attractive for birders and nature lovers. while the overall scenic beauty makes Magaliesberg a top pick as a wedding destination. The highest point of the Magaliesberg is 7 852m. and it is nearly 7 00 times older than Mount Everest. The formation of the Magaliesberg region dates back over two billion years. making this area about half as old as our planet.
The Magaliesberg mountain range is almost 100 times older than Mount Everest
Mrs Pies was discovered here – the most complete skull of an Australopithecus africanus found in Africa, now located at the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site.
The Magaliesberg area has played a major role in the country’s diverse cultural history; the area was named after Chief Mogale.
It holds cultural significance for Sotho, Zulu, Voortrekker and British heritage, and served as a battleground during the Second Anglo-Boer War. The Boers used the mountains to launch secret attacks on the British, who in turn built blockhouses on top of the mountains to restrict Boer movement. Some of these ruins can still be seen in the area. Over 13 battles were fought in the Magaliesberg, but after the war, farming of tobacco and citrus resumed in the area.
Today, the Magaliesberg is mainly a collection of private and public reserves used for recreational purposes, with the Magalies Biosphere Reserve being one of the main attractions for nature lovers and one of South Africa’s most prolific environmental gems.
Unesco declared it a biosphere reserve on 9 June 2015. It has a 58 000-hectare core protection area, serving as a breeding place for the endangered Cape Vulture. It’s worth a trip to the Vulture Rehabilitation Centre in Hartbeespoort to see these magnificent birds.
In addition to the main attractions mentioned, the Magaliesberg is home to a number of secret spots. including lookout points and eateries. Plan a trip and explore to your heart’s content.
Things to do in Magaliesberg
- • Although the Magaliesberg area has become popular. many of the roads are untarred. so do your research before heading out. or play it safe and take an off-road vehicle.
- The cableway at Hartbeespoort Dam is a firm favourite for locals and tourists.
- On weekends it can get busy, so go early. Take a hike in Rustig – choose between a 3km. 5km. or 13km trail. The area surrounding this farmhouse has magnificent scenery and offers a true taste of the Magaliesberg. Stay overnight – there’s a variety of accommodation options to choose from. The gardens and views make it a wedding-venue favourite too.
- For farm-style accommodation. try the eco-friendly Thirsty Falls Guest Farm where the mountains serve as your backdrop. The absence of city lights is perfect for stargazing.
- For the more adventurous. Bill Harrop’s Original Balloon Safaris allow you to float over some of the best parts of the Magaliesberg.
- The Elephant Sanctuary at Hartbeespoort offers the opportunity to get up close to these majestic creatures.
Written by: Carina Borralho
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