Near Johannesburg in South Africa’s Gauteng Province lies Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve, popular with hikers and cyclists. Among its gorges, grasslands and kloofs are many game species, including predators and 200 species of birds. 

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You can see the skyline of Johannesburg from certain ridges within this nature reserve.

About an hour's drive from Johannesburg, the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve offers a delightful wilderness experience within relatively easy reach of the city.

This 11 500-hectare reserve plays a crucial role in environmental education, resource management and outdoor recreation with its winding hiking trails and variety of natural habitats which traverse valleys and grass plains.

Some of the wildlife which can be spotted include zebra, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, mountain reedbuck and even brown hyena.

The reserve's diverse habitat makes it botanically rich, and it gets its name from the Transvaal suikerbos, or sugarbush (Protea kaffra) which can be found on the sandstone ridges.

Among the habitats you'll find here are Bankenveld grassland, fynbos ridges and acacia woodland which provide refuge for some 200 species of birds.

Tree species that occur here include white stinkwood, the Highveld cabbage tree, ouhout and sweet thorn.

Suikerbosrand is particularly popular with hikers and offers day trails and overnight options with its network of some 66km of hiking trails criss-crossing the reserve. Day visitors can hike the Bokmakierie Trail (17km or 10km) or settle for the shorter, interpretive 4km Cheetah Trail. For hikers wishing to tackle longer routes, there are four overnight huts, called Springbok, Blsebok, Eland and Duiker, offering basic facilities.

There are no other overnight options available as the Kareekloof camping facilities are presently closed.

Those who prefer to view the reserve by car can drive a 60km tourist route (the same tar road that is popular with cyclists). However, visitors are urged not to litter as antelope in the reserve have previously died due to cyclists dropping gel packages which they ingested.

As you walk or ride, keep your eyes open for the wide range of animals and birds that inhabit the grassy plains and rocky gorges of this beautiful landscape that has dwindled under the pressure of urban development.

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