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Mountain Sanctuary Grotto Trail

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31km from Magaliesburg

-25.8357, 27.4761


+27 14 534 0114

Moderate difficulty; Suitable for children


The Magaliesberg range offers spectacular hiking - both on the rugged mountain plateau and in the deep gorges. However most of the land is privately owned and difficult to access unless you are a member of the Mountain Club of South Africa or one of the local hiking clubs. So the opportunity to explore the vast wilderness of Mountain Sanctuary Park is a real bonus for those wanting an escape from the urban centres of Gauteng.

The privately owned nature reserve, approximately 90km from Pretoria and 110km from Johannesburg, is home to baboon, zebra, klipspringer, impala, mountain rhebok and various other antelope species. There are also elusive predators such as brown hyena, jackal and leopard. The park is a twitcher’s paradise and a bird list is available at the office.

Although there are numerous hiking trails that will take anything from 15 minutes to eight hours, few on them are clearly marked. Rather, hikers are given a map and encouraged to head out and explore. One of the easiest and most rewarding routes is to take the Slide Pools road from the office, and follow the stream all the way past Turtle Rock and into The Grotto. The path ends here, but you can cut across until you reach Table Top rock and then on to West Pools to make a fun circular walk.

From the pools you either come down the gorge by swimming from one pool to the next, or find your way along the side of the gorge until you pick up the path back to camp. The full loop will take about 2-3 hours and takes you past magnificent rock formations and a range of vegetation. There is also the option of following the pipeline back to camp from The Grotto if you want a shorter hike.

To reach Mountain Sanctuary Park from Johannesburg, take Hendrik Potgieter past Little Falls until you reach the T-junction near the Sterkfontein Caves. Turn towards Hekpoort and then take the Ventersdorp road to the left. Follow the road through the town of Magaliesburg and then past Mount Grace and Lover's Rock. Once you see the steep cliffs of the Magaliesberg Mountains on your right, look for the road to Marikana (just past the Maanhaarrand trading store where there’s a Utopia signboard on the left). Follow this badly maintained dirt road over Breedtsnek until you see the turn-off to Mountain Sanctuary Park on the right.

Day visitors are welcome in the reserve but numbers are limited to 180 people per day so booking is essential. The gates are open from 07h30 to 18h30 in summer and until 17h30 in winter.

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