TAKE A HIKE
Admire the views from on top of the Magaliesberg.
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).