This fairly easy trail, 40 kilometres north of Pretoria, is one of my favourite day walks because of its fascinating geology, history and natural beauty. The 7,2-kilometre route skirts the rim of the crater, believed to have been formed when an asteroid collided with Earth some 200 000 years ago, then descends to the salt lake at its centre. There are picnic and braai facilities. Mosquitos can be a nightmare, so wear repellent. Costs R20 a person. Cell 083-505-2271, www.gauteng.net.
This easy, 2,3-kilometre walk winds through one of Gauteng’s few remaining dolomite grasslands. Designed and laid out by the Friends of the General Smuts Foundation, the trail leads to a memorial on the top of Smuts Koppie. Guided birdwatching tours are available on request and there’s a museum and a refreshment kiosk. Traffic can be horrendous when the market is held (second and last Saturdays of each month and all Saturdays in November and December). Costs R10 a child and R20 an adult. Tel 012-667-1176, www.smutshouse.co.za.
There are a number of loops in this reserve in Pretoria North, named after its magnificent 1 000-year-old fig tree, which is a national monument. Although it’s in a semi-urban setting, there’s a surprising variety of highveld and bushveld birds. The reserve also has a rich cultural heritage, dating from pre-Iron Age. Much of this can be explored on the main 2,5 kilometre trail leading to a fort, built just before the outbreak of the Anglo Boer War. Costs from R10 a child to R28 an adult. Tel 012-440-8316 or 012-341-5204, www.tshwane.gov.za.
Although right in the centre of Pretoria East, this reserve is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and perfect for a family outing. The main trail, the four-kilometre Kiepersol Route, winds up a hill, providing beautiful views over the leafy suburbs, which are particularly impressive when the jacarandas bloom in October and November. The birdlife is magnificent and there are numerous picnic spots and a bird-viewing deck along the route. Costs from R3 a person. Tel 012-358-1510, www.tshwane.gov.za.
This moderately difficult, eight-kilometre walk near Cullinan (about 50 kilometres from Pretoria) is a treasure trove of magnificent views, highveld vegetation and fascinating rock formations. There’s also a waterfall and plenty of rock pools in which to cool off as well as picnic and braai facilities. Campsites are available if you want to make a weekend of it. Booking is essential and can be done through Jacana. Tel 0861-522-262, www.jacanacollection.co.za.
This small reserve, also near Cullinan, has a network of roads and tracks for hikers and mountain bikers. While there’s no marked trail, you can make your own fairly easy route of about eight kilometres that offers great game viewing and a pleasant lunch spot overlooking a dam. There’s camping and chalets, but for a treat book into one of four restored ox wagons at The Outspan. Entrance costs R20 a child and R40 an adult. Cell 082-550-1892, www.somabula.co.za.
With thanks to Peter Moore, organiser of the Centurion Seniors’ Association Walking Group.
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Tags: F.R.O.G.S., Faerie Glen Nature Reserve, hikes, hiking, hiking trails, Jan Smuts House, Oubaas Trail, pretoria, Pretoria hikes, Pretoria hiking trails, Somabula, Tswaing Crater, Wonderboom Nature Reserve