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TThe Mountain Sanctuary Park is a private nature reserve tucked away in the peace and quiet of South Africa’s ancient Magaliesberg mountains in North West province. Magnificent rock formations millions of years old have given rise to pristine pools flanked by indigenous vegetation, creating an Eden where you can shrug off the city grime.
The rocky terrain is pure mountain-bike heaven, with routes suited to all abilities. Barnardsvlei Road suits novices, while the physically demanding Breedt’s Neck Mountain Pass will test the mettle of experts. A demanding 12km trail also forms part of the annual Magalies Monster bike race.
Hiking is another favourite pastime here, with numerous trails that range from 15 minutes to 8 hours, traversing more than 1 000 hectares of countryside in total.
After a hard day’s hiking or biking, flop into the swimming pool set in a deck overlooking a picturesque valley. Then, when you’re cool and relaxed, throw some traditional South African boerewors on the braai, as the locals do.
Relaxing with a book under a shady tree is the best way to absorb the tranquillity that has become the hallmark of the Mountain Sanctuary Park. Strict rules and regulations, especially regarding noise, are enforced in the park – for instance, radios and TVs are banned – so the unbroken natural soundtrack of the wild bushveld stays intact.
If you’re very quiet, you might be lucky enough to spot endemic fauna such as klipspringers, monkeys, jackals, warthogs and an amazing array of birds and butterflies.
Come for the day – but be warned, it’s addictive, so rather set aside a weekend if you can.
For those with a head for heights, various abseiling sites are available, but guides and gear are required. Traditional rock climbing may also be enjoyed at designated points in the sanctuary.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Mountain Sanctuary Park
Tel: +27 (0)14 534 0114
How to get here
From Johannesburg or Pretoria, take the Sun City route on your maps app until Buffelspoort. After Buffelspoort turn left at the 3-way stop. After about 10km, turn left towards Maanhaarrand. Follow the Mountain Sanctuary Park signs. The road is tarred until the final 2.5km.
Around the area
Start exploring the park at Perderwater Groot or Fountain Pools, where the rock formations are stunning. Walking in the mountains and taking a dip in cooling streams or rock pools is great fun.
Tours to do
Discover our origins at the nearby Cradle of Humankind, where limestone caves reveal the fossilised remains of ancient hominids and hominins in humanity’s evolutionary lineage.
Once you’ve parked your vehicle, you won’t need it again until you leave. Walking, riding and hiking are your means of getting around while you’re here.
What will it cost
Prices for the chalets, log cabin, cosy huts and camping accommodation will adjust over time, based on inflation. Check the listed website for current entry, accommodation and activity fees.
Length of stay
At least 2 nights to enjoy the serenity of the park and the nocturnal call of the wild.
What to pack
A light backpack, sunhat, good walking shoes, sun protection, water bottle and camera.
Where to stay
In the sanctuary – 3-star accommodation includes log cabins with their own bathrooms, some of which are on stilts overlooking the valley. Braai facilities and indoor fireplaces are included, and linen and towels provided. The self-catering chalets are similarly appointed. Spacious campsites are also provided for tents and caravans, and the cosy huts are the in-between option for young families: with built-in kitchen appliances and a braai area, plus 2 single beds and a 2-bunk bed. Guests must provide their own towels and linen (or book it in advance from the park, at extra cost) and share the ablution block with the campers.
The annual Magalies Monster mountain-bike race is held in May each year.
The Hartbeespoort Dam Route is home to numerous roadside traders who sell a variety of goods including pottery, jewellery, crystals, sculptures and other craft items.