Gauteng Tourist AttractionsThe Magaliesberg
The Magaliesberg mountains are of the oldest in the world. They extend across Gauteng and the North West provinces west and north from Pretoria to just south of the Pilanesberg, and east of Pretoria to the Bronkhorstspruit Dam.
Formerly known as the Cashan Mountains the Magaliesberg stretch for over 120 kilometres, separating the highveld grasslands to the south, from the bushveld savannah of the north.
Aside from their milestone age - they are a hundred times older than Everest and half the age of the earth – these mountains and the surrounding area also possess a rich biodiversity (the Aloe Peglerae and Frithia pulchra are unique to this area), and the bird life in the mountains and the surrounds is almost unparallelled - 46.6% of Southern Africa's bird species live here.
Over time the drama of the mountains' unique geology, in the form of its quartzite cliffs, have been shaped by water runoff to form deep gullies and magnificent kloofs (a few of them over 100 metres deep), with gushing perennial waterfalls and streams that make the place a treasure for hikers and climbers who explore the forested kloofs dripping with water, ferns, flowers, grasses and fungi.
The Magaliesberg region is recognised as the birthplace of mankind, and visitors from all over the world head to Maropeng, the visitor centre at The Cradle of Humankind. Excavations continue to uncover ancient skeletons, like Little Foot – the nickname given to a nearly complete four million year-old Australopithecus fossil skeleton that still lies partially in breccia, under excavation.
It's likely that when fully excavated it will be more complete even than the Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, Lucy, in Hadar, Ethiopia.
Because of their uniqueness the mountains are a pivotal feature in the recently proclaimed Magaliesberg Biosphere Reserve that protects 360 000 hectares between Pretoria, Johannesburg and Rustenburg.
For overworked city folk, though, the Magaliesberg is a welcome respite and a chance to escape into nature over weekends. Just over an hour's drive from both Pretoria and Johannesburg the mountains provide a range of retreats and guest houses, the Crocodile Ramble, and the Magaliesberg Meander.
Popular Towns in the Magaliesberg Region, Gauteng
Cradle of Humankind
Stay? Accommodation Cradle of Humankind
The Cradle of Humankind Site comprises a strip of a dozen dolomitic limestone caves containing the fossillised remains of ancient forms of animals, plants and most importantly, hominids. The dolomite in which the caves formed, started out as...
More info and photographs: Cradle of Humankind Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Doornhoek
Doornhoek lies in the heart of the Magaliesberg, close to the little village of Hekpoort that nestles on the gentle southern slopes of the mountain range, just north west of Johannesburg. Most of the area is used for agriculture in this corner...
More info and photographs: Doornhoek Information
Stay? Accommodation Hartbeespoort Dam
Roughly 45 minutes' drive from Johannesburg and Pretoria, surrounded by the beautiful Magaliesberg mountain range, Hartbeespoort Dam, or Harties to locals, has become a hive of activity and is a very popular weekend getaway for the two...
More info and photographs: Hartbeespoort Dam Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Hekpoort
Nestled on the southern slopes of the Magaliesberg Mountain range is the predominantly farming area of Hekpoort, only a short drive from Hartbeespoort Dam and accessible from the south via a pass through the Daspoortrand, hence the name...
More info and photographs: Hekpoort Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Kromdraai
Kromdraai falls within the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, proclaimed such by UNESCO in 1998. It’s one of the most famous valleys in the world filled with palaeontological sites rendering ancient relics of mankind that are millions of...
More info and photographs: Kromdraai Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Magaliesburg
The sleepy little village of Magaliesburg lies in the Witwatersberg - the actual Magaliesberg Mountains are a further 8 kilometres or so north of here - its nearest neighbours the unassuming towns of Doornhoek and Hekpoort, an easy hour’s drive...
More info and photographs: Magaliesburg Information
Overnight? Accommodation Renosterspruit
Set in a valley through which the Crocodile River meanders in the foothills of the Magaliesberg, is Renosterspruit. Renosterspruit lies in a vital and natural green lung, encompassing farmland, small holdings and a number of reserves and...
More info and photographs: Renosterspruit Information
Overnight? Accommodation in Skeerpoort
Skeerpoort train station lies along the R560, west of Hartbeespoort dam and just outside the parameters of the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. If there is a town of Skeerpoort then it remains very well hidden in amongst the gentle...
More info and photographs: Skeerpoort Information