Short and medium hiking trails are available in the Village of Haenertsburg and Magoebaskloof. Some of the establishments also have short hiking trails on their properties (please enquire when you make your reservation).
The Swartbos trail winds its way very gently through the indigenous forest of Magoebaskloof and is a medium to difficult trail but is well marked and maintained. It starts across the road from Sandford Heights Nursery and next to Magoebaskloof Hotel. Maps are available from both these venues.
Some of the points of interest on the trail are:
The cathedral Tree - this is a strangler vine which straddled several trees and now reminds one of a cathedral vault.
Saw pit - 19th century woodcutters dug a pit beneath large felled trees so they could saw them into planks with one person below and one person on top.
The nose - a ridge jutting out between two river valleys.
The Pipe- a strangler vine where its tree victim has died and rotted away leaving only the tube formed by the vine.
The knoll - this is an unexpected hill in the middle of the Magoebaskloof. Enjoy the magnificent view both back towards the hotel and down the valley to the Tzaneen Dam.
Birds and animals on the trail include the Knysna Loerie with it’s distinctive croaking call. There is a troop of Samango monkeys in the forest. At certain times of the year, when food is available, the rare Cape Parrot will be seen and heard in this area. Their call is a distinctive shriek and they fly in flocks of 20 or more. But come and look for yourself and experience the freshness of mountain air in our forests. Maps available at Sandford Heights Nursery and Magoebaskloof Hotel.
Starting and ending in the village of Haenertsburg, this very popular trail meanders through the Haenertsburg Grassland Nature Reserve with its rare afro-montane Woodbush Granite Grasslands, one of South Africa’s most threatened vegetation types.
The trail is well marked and features both, a shorter walk of about 5 km (follow white foot print signs) as well as a 10 km hike (follow yellow footprints). Apart from beautiful grasslands with sweeping views, both routes also take you through patches of indigenous forest. En route, hikers will enjoy seeing rare flora and fauna, walk along beautiful small streams and pass by what is said to be a rhino rubbing rock. Here, one can “hug” one of the oldest rock formations in the world, known as greenstone, dating back 3 200 million years.
Ensure to take drinking water. There are idyllic resting spots along the trail and hikers who enjoy to observe details of the great diversity of this pristine Nature Reserve often take 4 to 5 hours to leisurely complete the 10 km loop. Note that smoking and the lighting of fires are strictly prohibited.
The volunteer organisation Friends of the Haenertsburg Grasslands (FroHG) maintains this hiking trail and also has an informative webpage www.frohg.co.za with a range of relevant environmental facts. FroHG is a registered NPO and entirely dependent on donations. FroHG donation boxes are at The Tin Roof and the Foodzone and hikers are kindly requested to make use thereof. All proceeds are used to clear thehiking trail, remove alien invasive plants and improve the awareness of the grassland.