|THE SUIKERBOSRAND NATURE RESERVE
ACCOMMODATION IN SUIKERBOSRAND
The Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve covers an area of 13,337ha and was named after the Transvaal Suikerbos, (Protea Caffra).
The reserve is within an hours drive of Johannesburg and lies close to the town of Heidelberg. The main feature of the reserve is the Suikerbosrand Mountain Range that forms the backbone of the reserve and varies in height between 1,545m and 1,917m above sea level.
The list of MAMMALS to be found in the reserve is quite long and includes Eland, Zebra, Black Wildebeest, Red Hartebeest and Brown Hyena.
A network of 66km of BACKPACKING HIKING TRAILS have been established, plus a short, 4km long interpretive trail (Chetah Trail) and a 17km (10km shorter option, Bokmakierie) day visitor trail. There is also a 60km long motor vehicle tourist route.
The OVERNIGHT HIKING TRAILS span most of the reserve. Hikers start their chosen trek from the reception desk at the information centre where permits are issued and a key given for the overnight huts. It should be remembered that there is almost 5km to walk to the closest hut so daylight hours need to be taken into account in order to arrive a your first hut before nightfall.
Blesbok is one of the closest huts to the Diepkloof starting point and so is popular with hikers.
All the HUTS are similarly designed and laid out, with beds and mattresses, hot showers and chemical toilets. Undercover braai facilities are provided. The huts are all situated in secluded areas. Water must be used sparingly as it has to be pumped to a tank at the hut from a tractor pulled water tanker.
An early start is advisable, especially in summer as the area can be very hot at midday and is subject to violent thunder storms in the afternoons.
ELECTRICITY FOR LIGHTING AND HOT WATER IS SOLAR POWERED
The variety of landscapes is quite remarkable, varying from craggy rock formations to grassy plains and wooded kloofs.
Both Duiker and Hartebees Huts provide a challenge for the fit hikers to do in a day from or to Diepkloof. In fact if one chooses to crisscross the reserve it is possible to hike for six days of fairly exacting hiking.
There are a kettle and basic cooking pots provided but it would be a good idea to take along your portable gas stove and a couple of pots. The management asked me to mention that under no account are hikers allowed to take their cars to overnight facilities. Should any difficulties arise at a hut then staff should be notified and appropriate action will be taken.
During a night in the reserve, the sounds of the bush can easily make one forget how close one is to the major metropolises of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
The FLORA in the reserve is surprisingly varied and include a large number of grass species. Trees include the White Stinkwood (Celtis africana), Highveld Cabbage Tree (Cussonia paniculata), Ouhout (Leucosidea sericea), Sweet Thorn (Acacia Karroo), Highveld Protea/Suikerbos (Protea caffra) after which the reserve is named and the Common Guarrie (Euclea undulata).
Wild flowers include the Agapanthus (Agapanthus campanulatus), Disseldoring (Berkeya seminivea), Wild Sweat Pea (Sphenostylis angustifolia), Orange River Lily (Crinum bulbispernum) and the Large Witchwood (Striga elegans).
The GEOLOGY of the region consists of two systems, the Ventersdorp and the Witwatersrand systems. The Ventersdorp system consists of Igneous rocks, called basalt formed millions of years ago after molten rock had congealed on or in the earth's crust.
The Witwatersrand system is mainly sedimentary sandstone deposited in horizontal layers. Proteas are mainly to be found in this system.
When planning your next hiking trip, why not give the Suikerbosrand a try, I don't think you will be disappointed.
The best time to hike hear is Spring and Autumn. Be prepared for extremes of weather whatever time of the year you do the hike.