Before the Dutch trekked up from the Cape in search of new frontiers, claimed the Ndebeli land and renamed the mountains Magaliesberg, Botswana tribes who’d migrated here were invaded by the Bapede and Ndabele while lead by Shaka Zulu’s best captain, Mzilikazi. He broke away from Shaka, formed his own tribe and controlled all the inhabitants between the Vaal River and Limpopo.
Thereafter explorers such as Robert Moffat, David Livingstone, and William Cornwallis Harris reached this part of Africa and interacted with the tribes who had settled here. Some explorers were scientists, missionaries, hunters and traders and the Cashan/ Kgaswane Mountains reaped many treasures for each party.
Cornwall Harris was one of the men who hunted here and discovered the Sable Antelope whilst Andrew Smith lead s scientific expedition and later found the South African Musuem. Once the Boer trekkers killed Mzilikazi’s men and drove them north and transformed the Magaliesberg into productive farmland.
The Magaliesberg is a natural gem filled with rugged cliffs, sheltered kloofs and rolling streams. The mountain range extends from Pretoria to a point south of Pilanesberg. 150 years ago, elephants, lions, rhinos, buffaloes and hippos were said to roam in this region but have sadly most were eradicated. A few still roam the mountains and can be found in the nature reserve.
Animal and bird lovers will encounter many species with the open woodlands and cliffs such as the grey rhebok, mountain reedbuck, warthog and baboons. Bird watchers return time and time again to catch a glimpse of the 400 species from the bushveld and Highveld areas. If you move higher up, you may get lucky and encounter the cliff-dwelling species such as the African hawk eagle and Cape Vulture. Around the dams you’ll find waterfowl and waders.
A great way to explore the Magaliesberg and see some of its best bits would be to visit the Mountain Sanctuary Park. Swimmers will find natural rock pools scatted through the reserve. Walking trails can also be found in abundance and once you’re provided with a map, you can set off in all directions and explore this rugged beauty.
If you’ve brought your binoculars, grab a spotting list from the office and head off in search of the park’s list of abundant species who call this region home.
Experience rock climbers can bring their gear and make their way up some of the climbs available in the park whilst abseilers can do the same. Beginners will need to bring a guide along as guides are not available within Mountain Sanctuary. The Hartbeespoort aerial Cableway travels all the way to the top of the Magaliesberg Mountain range beside the Haartbeespoort Dam and is one of the best way to take in the exquisite panoramic views.
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