Great hiking trails close to Johannesburg

Posted by David Henning on 6 October 2021

Working from home working on your nerves? Ryan Enslin investigates four options to get your greenery fix, beyond the potted geranium on your desk (aka dining room table).

Written by Ryan Enslin

Who doesn’t love the warmer months in South Africa? Spring shows up, more invites for braais and we can finally pull out those shorts. Here in Joburg, spring has not just sprung, it has been leap-frogged by summer and the days are magnificent. Life looks rosy again, blossoms bloom and a wonderful array of green hues return to the dry and dusty Highveld.

Joburg is known as one of the most treed cities in the world and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to walks in nature. But take a slightly longer drive in just about any direction from the CBD and you will find hiking trails that lead you right into nature.

Here are my favourite four.

Africaland

If you are a lover of the great outdoors, then this lesser-known spot is ideal for you. A mere 45-minute drive north-west from Joburg anf you’re in the bliss of the Phaladingwe Nature Reserve. Africaland has three hiking trails ranging from 3.5km, 6.8km and 9km with stunning views as you traverse the Magaliesburg Mountains.

You can also mountain bike, fish, abseil and go river rafting or quad biking in this haven of all pursuit’s nature. Keep an eye out for Impala, Kudu, Nyala, Eland and Duiker as you explore to your heart’s content.

Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve

I have been going to Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve since before I can remember. Often my place of choice on a Sunday with no specific plans, this place holds fond memories for me. A mere 35-minute drive south of Joburg you will find a 19 000-hectare reserve where the remnants of an ancient Tswana city were discovered.

Suikerbosrand has three hiking trails with 17km, 10km and 4.5km variants plus a wheelchair-friendly 1km trail. Overnight facilities are available for weekend hikes; they have an extensive range of mountain bike trails plus there are 60km of tarred roads for self-drive adventurers.

Mountain Sanctuary Park

Also in the Hartbeespoort area, Mountain Sanctuary Park is a privately owned, 1 000-hectare reserve. Well known for its natural rock pools, this is the spot to take time out from city life on a warm summer afternoon. The closest pool is a mere 20-minute walk.

Although Mountain Sanctuary Park no longer takes day visitors, there are an array of overnight hikes to choose from (with an equally extensive range of accommodation) plus they offer guided day-hikes, either a 3-hour or a 4,5-hour route. A well-maintained pool and grassy picnic area are available for that braai tradition.

Be sure to book as Mountain Sanctuary Park limits visitor numbers.

Ezemvelo Nature Reserve

Hiking, mountain biking, game drives, fishing and bird watching will keep you busy at Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, just outside Pretoria. The reserve also has an abundance of game including zebras, wildebeest and red hartebeest to truly give you that out in the bush feeling.

Three hiking trails are available – 4km, 14.5km and 21km for the adventurous at heart. Overnight options are also available. Be sure to book in advance of your adventure as only 50 entrance permits (one permit per car) are issued daily.

A day out in nature is great nourishment for the soul. Just don’t forget to take lots of water and sunscreen to protect yourself against the notorious African sun.

Happy hiking!

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