Did you know?
The fairy elephant's foot, a succulent with vivid pink flowers and leaves, is endemic to the Magaliesberg Mountains.
Famous for their dramatic quartzite cliffs, the Magaliesberg Mountains offer an abundance of valleys, ravines, cliffs and waterfalls for the pleasure and indulgence of nature lovers.
The Magaliesberg range begins near the Bronkhorstspruit Dam in the east, and extends 120km to Rustenburg in the west. Proclaimed a protected natural environment in 1977, the 2,300-million-year-old mountains support a variety of different habitats, from grasslands and bushveld savannah to inaccessible forested kloofs where 130 tree species and a variety of flowers, ferns, grasses and fungi proliferate.
These mountains were once home to roaming elephant herds, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, large felines and a variety of antelope, but today it's the smaller species that are likely to be seen. Porcupine, polecat, bushbaby and mongoose roam the forest, along with vervet monkey, duiker, genet, baboon and klipspringer. Elusive leopard also live here, but their reclusive nature and wonderful camouflage means they're seldom seen during the day.
The mountains are also a birder's delight, with over 300 bird species recorded. Cape vulture and Verreaux's (black) eagle nest in cliffside colonies with jackal buzzard, falcon and swift. During winter flowering red aloes attract iridescent sunbirds, while summer warmth lures migrating storks. You'll be able to tick off starling, robin, cuckoo, barbet, owl and many other bird species.
The Magaliesberg is a wonderful retreat for humans too, with deep gullies and clear waterfalls tumbling down to pools below creating idyllic conditions for climbers and hikers. Many trails, ranging from gentle walks to strenuous hikes, allow for leisurely exploration while mountain biking, horse riding, abseiling and white-water rafting are more recent pursuits.
Rich in geology, biodiversity and human heritage, there are plans to have the Magaliesberg declared a UNESCO biosphere, thereby ensuring the preservation of this ancient natural treasure for future generations.