An hour’s drive from Johannesburg, near the town of Heidelberg, lies one of the most idyllic games reserves in Gauteng, the 11 595-hectare Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve. The flora and fauna in the reserve are extensive which makes it a popular spot for hiking, cycling and picnicking. The 200 different species of South African birds that have made the reserve their home has made Suikerbosrand a firm favourite with birdwatchers too, earmarking this area as a prime birdwatching spot on the Gauteng map. The Reserve gets its name from the Transvaal suikerbos or sugarbush that is found in abundance here.
Some of the wildlife which can be spotted include zebra, black wildebeest, red hartebeest mountain reedbuck, common duiker, steenbok, grey duiker, baboon, oribi, blesbok, springbok and kudu. The flora is surprisingly varied and includes a large number of grass species. Trees include the white stinkwood (Celtis africana), highveld cabbage tree (Cussonia paniculata), ouhout (Leucosidea sericea), sweet thorn (Acacia karroo), and the common guarrie (Euclea undulata).
Open grassland, wooded gorge, acacia woodland, marshland and rare Bankenveld grassland are all part of the reserve’s dense vegetation. A network of 66km of hiking trails has been established, which include a short, 4km interpretive trail (the Cheetah Trail) and a 17km day visitor trail. There is also a 60km motor vehicle tourist route, which is also suitable for cyclists.
The geology of the region consists of two systems, the Ventersdorp and the Witwatersrand. The Ventersdorp system consists of igneous rock, called basalt, which formed millions of years ago from molten rock. The Witwatersrand system is mainly sedimentary sandstone deposited in horizontal layers.
Admission is R22 per person to enter the reserve and R11 per vehicle.
Gates are open from 7am to 6pm
From Johannesburg, take the N3 highway towards Heidelberg. Take the R550/Alberton Road off-ramp and turn right, across the highway. Turn left to the reserve.