Located about 40km northwest of Pretoria, Tswaing is a 1 946 hectare conservation area that is home to a meteorite impact crater and surrounding wetland, as well as the remains of an old salt factory. Tswaing, which means “place of salt” in Setswana, is the site where a meteorite half a football field in size slammed into the Earth 220 000 years ago, forming a crater 1.4km in diameter and 200m deep. This crater, formerly known as the Pretoria Saltpan (or Soutpan), is one of about 170 impact craters in the world and one of four known impact craters in South Africa. It's one of the invariable tourist attractions in South Africa.
The Tswaing Crater is surrounded by dense bush. Tswaing Lake, is 100m in diameter in the centre of the crater, and is filled by rainwater and a spring. The lake once contained high concentrations of salt and soda ash that were mined for 44 years until 1956. The remains of the factory still stand near the lake.
Just east of the crater is the Soutpanspruit, which feeds a rare wetland system that is home to game, a large number of bird species, smaller mammals such as otters, genets, brown hyenas, civets and steenbok, reptiles and frogs.
If you're looking for an unusual and interesting experience, then Tswaing Crater marks a definite 'X' on the Gauteng map. Visitors to the crater can follow the 7.2km Tswaing Crater Trail, one of three trails that lead to and from the crater rim. Different places of interest are well marked along the trail. Note that it can get extremely hot here during the summer, so if you plan to follow the trail take along plenty of water with you.
Admission to the reserve
Open daily from 7.30am – 4pm.
Closed on Good Friday, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
From the R80 towards Soshanguve, turn right on Mopanie Road/M35 and left onto Soutpan Road. The Tswaing Crater entrance is to your left, off Soutpan Road.