One hour’s drive from Johannesburg and Tshwane lies the Magaliesberg – one of the oldest mountain ranges on Earth. An estimated 100 times older than Mount Everest, the mountain range extends over 120km from Bronkhorstspruit Dam east of Tshwane to Rustenburg in the west.
Over the years, different groups have waged war to lay claim to this unique part of Africa, which was proclaimed a World Heritage Site in 1999.
The Magaliesberg region is the official birthplace of humankind, a discovery celebrated by the establishment of Maropeng – The Cradle of Humankind – a tourist attraction that showcases the history and development of humans as a species.
Apart from its mountain scenery, the Magaliesberg region is home to diverse flora and fauna. More than 130 species of trees as well as flowers, ferns, grasses and fungi grow in a variety of habitats in the area.
Hundreds of years ago the Magaliesberg was populated by elephant herds, rhino, buffalo, giraffe, large felines and antelope. Today, private game lodges are preserving this natural land in small enclaves throughout the region.
Of particular significance is the reintroduction of the sable antelope, which can be seen together with roan antelope, gemsbok, wildebeest, giraffe and zebra in the Rustenburg and Silkaatsnek nature reserves.
Porcupine, polecat, bush baby and weasel roam wild. In the forest you might spot vervet monkeys, duiker, tree squirrel and genet. Five mongoose species live on the slopes of the mountains, and the cliffs are home to dassie and klipspringer. Baboon troops descend to the lower slopes to forage during the day.
The Magaliesberg is a favourite getaway for twitchers – 300 bird species are found here. The Cape vulture nests in cliffside colonies, while black eagle, jackal buzzard, falcon and swift soar above. Winter-flowering aloes attract iridescent sunbirds, while in summer migratory stork species inhabit grasslands.
Cuckoo, starling, robin, babbler, barbet, finch, owl and many other endemic birds can be seen. In October, the exquisite paradise flycatcher moves into the area to breed and rear its offspring before returning to the tropics in winter.
The Magaliesberg offers adventures and activities to suit all ages, including micro lighting, canopy tours, horse riding, bird watching, hot-air ballooning, abseiling, rock climbing, river rafting, hiking and game driving. Cheese-making, an art gallery and the oldest gold mine in Gauteng are added attractions.
The out-of-town visitor has a selection of accommodation from which to choose, including country conference venues, farm cottages, upmarket hotels, private guesthouses, self-catering venues, affordable bed-and-breakfast spots and tented bush camps.
There is no admission fee to the region itself. Each attraction or location charges individual rates.
The region is accessible throughout the year.