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. 

Did you know?

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.

Travel tips & Planning info

Who to contact

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve
Tel: +27 (0)11 439 6300
Cell: +27 (0)71 602 7581

How to get here

The nature reserve is well signposted. From Johannesburg, follow the N3 to Heidelburg, exit at the R23 and turn right (south). Suikerbosrand is on the right.

Best time to visit

All seasons have something to offer, but spring and autumn are particularly pleasant for hiking.

Around the area

Nearby Heidelberg has historic buildings of interest, and a Transport Museum.

Tours to do

A self-drive 60km loop of the Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve.

Get around

The Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve can be explored on foot, by bicycle or in your car.

What will it cost

It costs R22 per person to enter the reserve and R11 per vehicle.

Length of stay

A half to full day is enough, but longer stays are also possible

What to pack

If staying overnight you'll need to be self-sufficient and bring your own cooking utensils, food, bedding and wood or charcoal. Day and overnight visitors should pack hiking boots, binoculars, water, and a camera.

Where to stay

A network of 66km of backpacking trails have been established and overnight huts are available on the reserve. Only four of these hiking huts are currently available. These are called Springbok, Blesbok, Eland and Duiker.

What to eat

Bring your own picnic, or if you're staying overnight cater for all your meals whilst in the reserve.