The Magaliesberg Mountains, Gauteng and North West
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 2 000-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.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)83 259 0444
The Mountain Club of South Africa
Tel: +27 (0)11 807 1310 (8am-10am weekdays)
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.