TAKE A HIKE

Ad­mire the views from on top of the Magaliesberg.

go! - - Contents - shel­ter­rock.co.za – Lawrette McFar­lane

The Shel­ter Rock Trail in the Magaliesberg is about an hour’s drive from Jo­han­nes­burg and Pre­to­ria – climb to the top of the moun­tain for a hard-to-beat view and take a dip in the splash pool.

SHEL­TER ROCK TRAIL, MAGALIESBERG While the Magaliesberg can’t re­ally hold a can­dle to the mighty Drak­ens­berg, it’s only a 90-minute drive from Joburg. That must count for some­thing! The Shel­ter Rock Trail also gives you the chance to climb to the top of a moun­tain – and it’s only 8 km long. It’s a nice out­ing if you live in Gaut­eng and you want some­thing to do on a sunny Satur­day morn­ing. The trail starts at the re­cep­tion of­fice and park­ing area at Shel­ter Rock farm, west of Hart­beespoort Dam. The path is well marked and the lower slopes are cov­ered in ka­ree and thorn trees. It’s cool un­der the canopy and ferns spring up all over dur­ing the rainy sea­son. Just af­ter you pass a car wreck, you leave the canopy be­hind. The trail climbs to­wards the Shel­ter Rock for­ma­tion, which is about 2,4 km from the trail­head. There’s a big wild fig tree there. The tree is a good spot to sit for a while and eat a snack. Scram­ble up the for­ma­tion to see the view from the top of Shel­ter Rock. Now fol­low the red dots up the slope and through the sugar bushes to Twee­boom­nek. Re­mem­ber to oc­ca­sion­ally look up from your feet – we saw a

Ver­reaux’s ea­gle, a south­ern boubou, a blue wax­bill and a flock of Euro­pean bee-eaters pre­par­ing to fly over­seas. On the trail you can also see the ru­ins of some old Bri­tish forts. One is about 100 m east of Twee­boom­nek; the other is about 300 m fur­ther. You have a wide view from the sum­mit (about 4,3 km from the start of the trail). Rusten­burg lies to the north-west – on a clear day you can see Sun City. Madibeng (Brits) is to the north-east, and the scenery di­rectly north is dom­i­nated by or­ange and blue­berry or­chards, granite kop­pies and plat­inum mines. Hart­beespoort Dam shim­mers to the east. If you squint, you can even see the high-rises of Sand­ton. At the sum­mit, the trail turns north and does a short loop through a sand­stone rock gar­den where agama lizards scurry about. Af­ter the rock gar­den, the trail veers to the right and you walk along the sum­mit be­fore de­scend­ing along the same route you came up. You can stop at Shel­ter Rock again on the way down – there’s no rush. Then head south to the re­cep­tion of­fice where you can have a dip in the splash pool.

Dis­tance: The trail is 8 km long in to­tal, marked with red dots painted on rocks and signs, and well main­tained. It takes about four hours. How high do you climb? My watch mea­sured an el­e­va­tion gain of 442 m. The trail starts at about 1 300 m above sea level and the high­est peak is at 1 711 m. High­lights? The views are ex­cep­tional. You have a good chance of see­ing Cape vul­tures at the sum­mit. Wa­ter? Take drink­ing wa­ter – there is no wa­ter on the trail and it can be very hot in sum­mer. Map? When you get your per­mit at the of­fice, you’ll also get a handy pocket guide with a map. Where? Shel­ter Rock is half­way be­tween the vil­lage of Ma­galies­burg and Hart­beespoort Dam. The turn-off is on the R401. Trail open­ing times: Daily from 7 am to 5 pm from 1 Septem­ber to 30 April; 7.30 am to 5 pm from 1 May to 30 Au­gust. If you want to hike dur­ing the week, or if your group is big­ger than 15 peo­ple, you have to book and pay be­fore­hand. Cost: R80 per adult, R40 per child un­der 16, free for chil­dren un­der 6. Con­tact: 071 473 6298 (Corry);

EV­ERY­ONE IS WEL­COME. You don’t need to be su­per fit to walk the Shel­ter Rock Trail; it’s a fam­i­lyfriendly hike that even the kids will man­age and en­joy.

MAGALIES MAGIC. The trail winds through ka­ree and thorn trees on the lower slopes and through sugar bushes higher up, near Twee­boom­nek (top left). You’ll have to climb over this fence near Twee­boom­nek (above). You might have to chan­nel your in­ner dassie when you clam­ber up Shel­ter Rock, but the views from the top will make it worth­while (above left). The trail is marked with red dots so you won’t get lost (left). On a hot day, you’ll wel­come a dip in the pool back at the re­cep­tion of­fice (be­low left).

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