Did you know?
The fairy elephant's foot, a succulent with vivid pink flowers and leaves, is endemic to the Magaliesberg Mountains.
These mountains formed more than two billion years ago, making them nearly 100 times older than Mount Everest, but don’t let their age fool you – walking through their valleys, hiking up their cliffs and cooling off by their waterfalls will keep you young at heart.
It all begins near the Bronkhorstspruit Dam in the east and then extends 120km to Rustenburg in the west. This 2300-million-year-old mountain range supports a variety of different habitats from grasslands and bushveld savannah to inaccessible forested kloofs with over 130 tree species and an astounding variety of flowers, ferns, grasses and fungi. In 1977, this area was officially named a protected natural environment.
The mountains were once home to roaming elephants, rhinos, buffaloes, giraffes, large cats and a variety of antelope, but today it's the smaller species that are likely to be seen. Porcupines, bushbabies and mongooses roam the forest, along with Vervet monkeys, Duikers, Genets, baboons and Klipspringers. Leopards also stalk these lands, but their shyness and ability to camouflage means they're seldom seen during the day.
If you’re a bird watcher, the mountains also have something for you. Over 300 somethings – as there’s over 300 bird species that call the area home, including the nesting Cape vultures and Verreaux's eagles, as well as Jackal Buzzards, falcons and swifts. During winter flowering red aloes attract dazzling sunbirds, while the summer warmth lures migrating storks. You'll also be able to tick off Starlings, Robins, Cuckoos, Barbets, owls and many other bird species.
Magaliesberg is a wonderful retreat for humans too, with deep gullies and clear waterfalls creating the perfect conditions for climbers and hikers. Many trails ranging from gentle walks to hardcore hikes allow for leisurely exploration, while mountain biking, horse riding, abseiling and even white-water rafting call to the more adventurous.
Rich in geology, biodiversity and human heritage, there are plans to have the Magaliesberg declared a UNESCO biosphere, as this will ensure the preservation of this ancient natural treasure for future generations.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
How to get here
The Magaliesberg Mountains can be reached via the N14/R512 from Johannesburg/Krugersdorp, and via the N4/N14 from Pretoria.
Best time to visit
The Magaliesberg Mountains are a year-round destination. As with all mountainous environs, visitors should be aware of sudden changes in the weather, possible rockslides and uneven terrain.
Around the area
Animal sanctuaries, adventure sport operators, fruit farms, Hartbeespoort Dam, restaurants, farm stalls, curio shops, art galleries, golf courses, wellness spas and a mampoer (local fruit brandy) distillery at Groot Marico.
Tours to do
A canopy tour across the Ysterhoutkloof is a popular activity. Harties aerial cableway will give you a bird's-eye view of the mountains and Hartbeestpoort dam.
You’ll need a car or motorcycle to explore the area. Roads leading to the Magaliesberg are in good condition and are clearly signposted. Sedan cars are advised not to take shortcuts using unmarked gravel roads or to attempt to cross Breed’s Nek pass.
What will it cost
Various nature resorts and tour operators provide access to the Magaliesberg mountains. Enquire with the individual operator for prices. Mountain climbing permits are available from the Mountain Club of South Africa.
Length of stay
From half a day to a week.
What to pack
If you plan to hike or walk in the Magaliesberg Mountains wear suitable shoes, a hat, carry a warm weatherproof jacket and sufficient water. Sun protection, insect repellent and a mobile phone are advisable.
Where to stay
There are self-catering lodges and campsites within the Magaliesberg Mountain Reserve, and numerous B&Bs, guesthouses, cottages and five-star country hotels in the general Magaliesberg area.
What to eat
There are countless places to eat in the Magaliesberg, from fast food outlets to fine dining restaurants.
Local fruit, vegetables, and nuts grown in season. Local crafts, art, and curios.