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Fort Trail, Wonderboom Nature Reserve

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In Pretoria

-25.6921, 28.1931

3km

+27 12 567 3822 www.tshwane.gov.za

Easy to moderate difficulty; Suitable for children

About

There are a number of trail loops in the Wonderboom Nature Reserve, which are shown on the excellent trail map issued at the entrance gate. The Interpretive Walk around the Wonderboom itself is a mere 500-metre long boardwalk. The boardwalk is a wonderfully environmentally educational designed trail.

The Waterfall & Cave Trail is 500 metres long and the main Fort Trail is 2,5 kilometres, with a shorter, straight-up-and-down option of one kilometre. There are also shorter loops for the less fit, as well as a longer three-kilometre guided trail (which must be booked in advance), starting from the adjacent Joos Becker Caravan Park and leading up to the fort on the top of the hill.

Although it’s definitely in a semi-urban setting, hiking at Wonderboom provides a good, quick escape from the city and there’s a surprising variety of birds, with both highveld and bushveld species present. The reserve is also well known for its rich cultural heritage, dating from pre-iron age cultural relics to recent historic times but the central feature of the reserve is the Wonderboom fig-tree (Ficus salicifolia), which has been carbon-dated as more than 1 000 years old. It’s an amazing sight. The trunk is 5,5 metres in diameter and the branches touching the ground have formed roots and sprouted “secondary trees”.  Apparently, 22 ox-wagons and oxen could shelter under the branches of this "miracle tree", which has been declared a national monument.

The fort on the top of the hill was built in 1897, just before the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), to guard access to Pretoria from the north through the Magaliesberg. The views from here are exceptional, particularly in late spring, when the jacarandas of Pretoria are in full bloom. To the south, the traveller will have a view over the Moot and the City Centre.  The distant view over Pretoria North and Sprinkbok Flats is equally impressive. The Fort Trail starts at the picnic site and car park next to the Wonderboom.  The trail heads uphillon a well-marked and remarkably well constructed footpath with flat quartzite rocks typical of the Magaliesberg range.

After 400 metres, the trail splits and you can choose to take the longer option (about one kilometre) around the hill or the straight, shorter path uphill, which is 700 metres long. Although the traffic noise is a constant feature, you feel as if you are in the bush for most of the way, with only intermittent views of the townscape below.

The Magaliesberg range stretches out to the west and east and from this vantage, you can see the two “entrances” to Pretoria – clearly revealing why this position was chosen for the fort.

Guided tours can be arranged on request, but otherwise no advance booking is required.

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