Hikes: Johannesburg

 

If you’re anything like me, you like being outside and experiencing all nature has to offer.

I’m never happier than when immersed in nature. I like to hike [and camp] to escape from the ‘real world’ and to remind myself of the beauty surrounding this city. These hikes are reasonably close to Joburg and well worth the effort to get to them.

Hennops Trails

The Hennops hiking trails are located about 45 kilometers north of Johannesburg. If you’re lucky, and it’s not too crowded, you’ll see anything from baboons to zebra to zonkeys (donkey-zebra hybrid!). If there’s no traffic you can get there in just under an hour. There are three trails of varying length and difficulty:

  • Krokodilberg trail: 10k, moderate (not suitable for the unfit), can be completed in 3 hours.
  • Zebra trail:  5k, easy-moderated (gradual slope), 1-2 hours.
  • Dassie trail: 2.5k, easy, children can do this one.

My personal favorite is hiking the Zebra trail to start, then connecting to the Krokodilberg and doing about 15k. The entire trail is lovely and interesting and well maintained. There is also a mountain bike trail (5-26km depending) and a 4×4 off-roading trail, for those who are keen. R70/Adult and R40/Child under 12, cash only. The fee includes access to a picnic spot.

Recommended you hike with at least two people.

http://www.hennopstrails.co.za/hiking-trail/

Rustig

This is one of my favourite places to hike near Johannesburg. It’s located on the North West/Gauteng province borders, north west of Joburg. The trails can be quite challenging but incredibly worth it. I recommend contacting them ahead of time, because sometimes they have bookings for large groups or events and you might want to plan around those. It’s also a bit of a journey to get there – it takes about 1.5 hours depending on traffic. That said, it’s 100% worth the effort. You can even plan a weekend and stay on the beautiful property. There are a few trail options (copied from their website):

Olivenhout Trail (Yellow)
3 km Day trail
R65 per person
No pensioner discount
R50 per person
R35 per persioner (midweek only)
Witstinkhout Trail (Red)
5 km Day trail
R65 per person
No pensioner discount
R50 per person
R35 per persioner (midweek only)
Karee Trail (Green)
13 km Day trail – Must be started by 9am to complete
R75 per person
No pensioner discount
R60 per person
R45 per pensioner (midweek only)
Karee Trail (Green)
13 km overnight trail
Only applicable to overnight hut, night before accommodation not include
R200 per person
No pensioner discount
R150 per person
R140 per pensioner (midweek only)
Magalieskraans (Blue)
15-18 km overnight trail (depending on route)
R250 per person
No pensioner discount
R180 per person
R170 per pensioner (midweek only)

My favorite is the Karee trail. This one takes you up and to the top of the mountain overlooking Rustig and surrounds. It is certainly possible to get “lost” on these trails if you don’t pay close attention to the signs. That said, you are provided with maps and all trails eventually lead back to the start, and they have “emergency exits” and “chicken runs” for those who want to avoid the longer or more challenging sections.

Even better is these trails are located both next to and within the game enclosures! I wasn’t lucky enough on either of my visits, but some of the trails take you over game fences, walking you through the enclosures (with antelope and other non-predator type, don’t worry!), and you could stumble across some of the wildlife they raise!

Two of the trails, Karee and Magalieskraans, offer the option of overnight camping. The trails stop half-way at well preserved cabins. You can pay an additional R50 to have your camping gear taken directly to the cabin for you, so that after you’ve hiked for the day, you just cook and relax! The cabin used for the Magalieskraans hike, the longest option, can hold quite a few people. When I was there, the cabin had bunks for over 10 and they were expanding. This includes access to a kitchen, fireplace, braai, and is right next to one of the game enclosures. I saw zebra, duiker, and many different birds while I was there!

You can safely hike alone here.

http://www.rustig.co.za/hiking-trails/

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

Located about 30-45 minutes south of Joburg, Suikerbosrand is an excellent hiking and cycling location. I first discovered their hiking trails, then started training on their 60k road route, and have returned many times since. They do provide overnight accommodation for longer hikes and camping. There are over 200 species of birds in the reserve, as well as a large variety of mammals: eland, zebra, wildebeest, red hartebeest mountain reedbuck, common duiker, steenbok, grey duiker, baboon, oribi, blesbok, springbok and kudu.

A lot of the information available online about the hiking trails at Suikerbosrand seems to be outdated. From what I’ve seen, there is no longer any 17k trail. I believe this is due to past fires. There is the Cheetah trail, which is 3.7k, and there are two longer trails, one that is 10k and one that is 11.5k. The entrance fee for the park is based on a fee per car, and then per person. Last time I went it was R55 for two people.

Recommended you hike with at least two people.

Cradle Moon

Cradle Moon Lakeside Game Lodge is found on the loop road in the Cradle of Humankind. On a weekday without traffic it takes about 45 minutes to arrive at the entrance gate from Johannesburg. The lodge has 50 thatched bungalows, many of which overlook the lake/dam. As you drive onto the property, springbok, sable, zebra and impala eye you with indifference. The animals are extremely used to human activity.

There are many activities on the property, including game drives, swimming, fishing and boating, but I have only ever tried the mountain bike and hiking trails. These overlap – so if you’re there on foot on a weekend you will have to be very careful not to get run over. The hiking trails are 4k and 10k, although staff told me you could continue to follow the bike trails for longer if you desire. The trails are quite flat, with just a bit of undulation. The cycling trails have more climbing as they go to the highest point on the property.

As you hike or run on these paths you will go by the dam, which is rather beautiful when at it’s highest level. Along the trails you will see many antelope and zebra, which again are not bothered by human presence and will stand close to the path as you go by. Makes for excellent photography!

Entry fee for activities (hiking/running/cycling) includes the conservation fee and is R50.

You can safely hike alone here.

https://www.cradlemoon.co.za

The Braamfontein Spruit

I chose to include this because it’s easily accessible and it’s also the longest municipal park in the world at 32k long! I think that’s pretty amazing. Granted, it isn’t consistent in beauty, safety or accessibility, but it’s amazing nonetheless. It’s also free to get onto the Spruit, although you may want to park your car somewhere safe and tip the car guard. 🙂

I actually live right off the Spruit near Delta Park, which is one of the safer areas to walk the Spruit. I recommend starting at Delta Park. You can also connect to Emmarentia Botanical Garden by following the Spruit south from Delta Park for about 4k. There are sections that go through tunnels under roads. You can easily go over those tunnels if they make you uncomfortable. There are a couple that are too dark to walk through safely anyway.

Hike in groups of three or more during daylight hours.

 

4 thoughts on “Hikes: Johannesburg

  1. Duncan says:

    Great info and an insiders view of what hikers can get done. Thanks for the great information and site and I wish you the best of luck as you move forward.

    Like

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