Magoebaskloof is a beautiful mountainous area in the Limpopo Province at the very North Eastern tip of the Drakensberg mountain range. Fondly called "The Land of the Silver Mist" by historians and locals alike, the mountains and valleys of the area are regularly shrouded in a soft mist. This mist belt has resulted in the lush afro-montane forests that make the area a welcome green oasis in the Limpopo bushveld.
The name means Magoeba’s Valley, but the Magoebaskloof is in fact a series of valleys named after a tribal chief who had his head chopped off by warriors serving under Boer commander Abel Erasmus in 1895.
The indigenous forest is thick and tangled, full of liana’s, fungi, ferns, and spliced by crystal clear streams that flow through rocks pools. It is home to Woodbush State Forest, the largest indigenous forest in Limpopo Province, De Hoek plantation, Dap Naude Dam and the spectacular Debegeni Falls. These forests host popular birding, hiking and mountain biking routes and a strange rock that makes a sound like a gong when you hit it and is called The Crying Rock. Picnic sites are available at Dap Naude Dam and Debengeni Falls.
As a result of the climate the area has become home to commercial forestry plantations of pine and eucalyptus and various fruits including avocados, raspberries, blue berries and kiwi fruit. It has also allowed the development of ornamental gardens, open to the public, hosting plants more suited to colder climates like Japanese maples and flowering cherry trees and azaleas. These gardens are spectacular in Spring and Autumn when the vibrant colours are on display.
The Magoebaskloof Pass runs between the towns of Tzaneen and Haenertsburg on the R71and offer stunning views over the kloof. The pass leads from the highveld down the escarpment to the sub-tropical Lowveld, dropping about 600m over a distance of just 6km.
Wolkberg and Georges Valley
The Drakensberg mountain range meets the Strydpoort Mountains in the Wolkberg Wilderness area with great, vertical quartzite krantzes, countless kloofs, cool, deep and densely forested ravines, massive buttresses and folded and interlocking spurs. The reserve extends for almost 22,000 hectares consisting of extensive indigenous forests and pristine grasslands. The range forms a high plateau reaching up to 2126 m in height at the Iron Crown, above Haenertsburg. Other conspicuous peaks are 2050 m high Serala, 1838 m high Mamotswiri, 1667m high Magopalone and 1611 m high Selemole. Access to the reserve entrance at Serala Forest station requires a high clearance vehicle. There are no trails and hiking should only be undertaken by experienced hikers.
The Wolkberg is the source of many small mountain streams, as well as the Mohlapitse and the Ga-Selati River, tributaries of the Olifants River. However the major river for which it is a source is the Great Letaba River. This is the major feature of George’s Valley and at it’s southern end the gorge through which the river flows is breath-taking. As the gorge is largely inaccessible, a visit to Magoebaskloof Adventures is a must to see the dramatic cliffs and waterfalls on a hiking trail or adventure activity.
George’s Valley runs North East from Ebenezer Dam to Tzaneen Dam. It is named after George Denys who built the road (the R528). The road is considered an alternative to the R71 to travel from Haenertsburg to Tzaneen. It is an equally scenic trip and linking the 2 for a round trip is well worth the drive. New Agatha State Forest is also accessible from the R528 (high clearance vehicle required).
Known as the capital of the Land of the Silver Mist, Haenertsburg lies between Polokwane and Tzaneen on the slopes of the Wolkberg. Turn off the R71, 60km from Polokwane and turn into the village which nestles under the granite massif of the Iron Crown Mountain. Surrounded by lush plantations and forests the Village offers visitors a rare opportunity to really unwind - a luxury in today's hectic and busy life.
Haenertsburg is fast becoming a hub for food lovers, book lovers and anybody who want to experience authentic village life. Our shops offer a variety of gifts, antiques, collectibles, second-hand books, Afrikana, jewellery and clothing. A good selection of restaurants and coffee shops will not leave you wanting for refreshments and good food. The village also has a well stocked grocery store, ATM, post office, bottle store, petrol station and café for those last minute purchases. It has three churches – the Mount Carmel Catholic Church, St Paul's Church (inter-denominational) and the Haenertsburg Christian Church.
The Berry Festival in February, Haenertsburg Food, Wine and Beer Festival at the end of April and Spring Festival in September are getting increasingly more popular and visitors are treated to a rare experience of fun, high quality goods an a wonderful festive atmosphere.
For the energetic the Louis Changuion Hiking Trail offers an exhilarating walk through the unique Haenertsburg Grasslands. The cemetery above the village is also worth a visit. Not only is the view of the surrounding area spectacular but there are many historic graves to be seen.
History of our Area
Haenertsburg was born in the Gold Rush days and is now more than 125 years old but it has certainly not been left off the map. The village, named after Carl Ferdinand Haenert who hailed from Eisenach in Germany has seen its fair share of excitement and romance, including the Makgoba War and the Anglo Boer War. The township of Haenertsburg was proclaimed on September 13, 1887 and was measured out in Cape Feet with each erf being only 50 sq feet – enough space to put up a tent or a small shack. In 1890 a census showed that Haenertsburg had 186 inhabitants of which 16 were adult women and 131 adult men.
Today Haenertsburg has a population of about 500. It has three churches – the Mount Carmel Catholic Church, St Paul's Church (inter-denominational) and the Haenertsburg Christian Church. Haenertsburg has a colorful history Visitors can visit the open-air museum in Mare Street above the Municipal Offices. Various books has been written by local historian Louis Changuion and are available at the memory Hold-the-door book shop in Rissik street.
Descriptive plaques tell the history of the area dating from the Makgoba War to the Anglo-Boer War and the more recent involvement in the Border Wars of the 1970s? There are also remains of the last Long Tom gun.
A collection of memorabilia including items from the Anglo Boer-War can be seen in the museum at the Pennefather Complex.
For the energetic the Louis Changuion Hiking Trail offers an exhilarating walk through the unique Haenertsburg Grasslands.
The cemetery above the village is also worth a visit. Not only is the view of the surrounding area spectacular but there are many but this is where many of the pioneers of the area were laid to rest.
What is so special about the grassland?
The grasslands around Haenertsburg are officially known as the 'Woodbush Granite Grasslands'. They are the most threatened vegetation type in Limpopo Province, and the highest conservation priority, according to SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria). What this means is that no forest, no tract of bushveld, no wetland in Limpopo is more important botanically, or more threatened, than these grasslands. They have an amazing diversity of plants and animals, with many medicinal plants which are used by traditional healers. Rare birds, mammals, amphibians and insects are found here too.
Grassland declared a Nature Reserve
FANTASTIC news is that in March this year, Limpopo MEC Seaparo Sekoati declared the Haenertsburg grassland a fully-fledged nature reserve, recognised by the province as such and subject to LEDET legal protection. We were delighted with this good news after a 10-year battle, and everyone involved should be heartily congratulated. This means that any ecological infringements on the Townlands grassland will now be prosecuted by LEDET themselves. Even better, FroHG was asked to submit a formal application to LEDET to be assigned the Management Authority of the reserve. We are currently awaiting the final documents in order to be assigned this authority. This step will be followed by publication in the Government Gazette, which will complete the process of the declaration. Read more......
Friends of the Haenertsburg Grasslands
Friends of the Haenertsburg Grasslands (FROHG) is a group of volunteers dedicated to conserving the grasslands around Haenertsburg. We are also interested in related ecosystems such as forests, wetlands and rivers in this area, but the grasslands are our main focus
What does FROHG do?
FROHG members help to maintain the Louis Changuion Hiking Trail, which is frequently used by tourists. We have begun rehabilitation work, with the support of Haenertsburg Rotary, on a large donga which periodically gushes mud into Georges Valley Road and which is steadily eating back into the grasslands, with loss of plants and topsoil. We remove alien invasive plants and litter from the grasslands. We engage with traditional healers in matters concerning plant extraction and utilization. And we are investigating ways to place plant utilization on a more sustainable footing. This may involve building a greenhouse/ nursery, with the help of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC). More information on: www. haenertsburg.co.za/FrOHG
Getting here: Take the N1 north from Gauteng to Polokwane, exiting onto the R71 towards Tzaneen. You will find the Village of Haenertsburg about 60km from Polokwane. It is about 4 hours drive from Johannesburg and en-route to the Phalaborwa Gate into the Kruger National Park and various other game and nature reserves.
Download printable map here for Magoebaskloof Area and Haenertsburg Village with reference numbers for accommodation establishments.