We are situated in the Hartbeespoort Dam area, which uses the slogan ‘’Close to the City, Out of this World’’ for many reasons. There is no other place in South Africa where you can find such a variety of top quality activities, accommodations and restaurants.
At only 45 minutes from Johannesburg and Pretoria, Hartbeespoort (or Harties) is the true Adventure Capital of the North West with the Harties Cableway, Ziplining, Quadbiking, Boat Cruises (including the unique AirBoat Afrika!), Hot Air Ballooning, Monkey Sanctuary, the world-famous Ann van Dyk Cheetah Centre, Arts & Craft Markets, Snake Park and many more. After a fun (and adrenaline?) filled day, there is a wide range of venues to choose from for a few drinks and something to eat. Whether you like top class fine dining, the always popular Burger & Chips or anything in between, Harties is the place to be!
The Magaliesberg Biosphere
Silkaatsnek Nature Reserve lies on the foothills of the oldest visible mountains in the world; the Magaliesberg. This mountain range is approximately 100 km long between Pretoria in the east and Rustenburg in the west. It has such an incredibly rich biodiversity because it lies at the interface of the Highveld Grassland and the Savannah Bushveld, which are two of South Africa’s largest biomes. The Magaliesberg area draws plant and animal species from both and remnants of even a third biome, the Afrotemperate Forest, add another dimension.
Because of all the different habitats in the Magaliesberg, no less than 443 bird species have been recorded, which is 46% of all birds in southern Africa. One of the most impressive birds is the endangered Cape Vulture () that nests in colonies on the cliffs on the southern side of the mountain range. The sight of wheeling flocks of vultures is one of the grand spectacles of the Magaliesberg.
There are also 18 indigenous fish, 17 frogs, 19 lizards, 30 snakes, 111 mammals and 121 species of indigenous trees and shrubs in the area.
You will be able to find a wide variety of beautiful flowers as well, but two of them are even endemic to the Magaliesberg. The Fairy Elephant’s Feet (Frithia pulchra) is a tiny succulent that grows only in the quartzite pebbles of the upper slopes. Another endemic is Turk’s Cap (Aloe peglerae), a small aloe that has evolved a leaf structure that protects its winter flower from drought, heat and fire. Recent research shows that it is pollinated by birds more than by insects.
Ancestors of humanity have evolved in the area from the earliest beginnings before hominids spread and prospered on other continents. Stone implements and rock engravings tell of ancient peoples who once hunted and gathered in these mountains tens of thousands of years ago.
Maropeng – Cradle of Humankind is less than an hour’s drive from Silkaatsnek Nature Reserve and well worth a visit. Recently the area made it into the international news again because of the findings of National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Professor Lee Berger and his team. They have discovered Home naledi, a previously unknown hominin species, at the Rising Star Cave.
In the early 19th century the prosperity of Batswana society in the Magaliesberg was shattered by invasions. First by the BaPedi and then by the Ndebele under the formidable leadership of Mzilikazi. For a decade he conquered and ruled the people all the way from the Vaal to the Limpopo rivers. Robert Moffat, a famous missionary, visited Mzilikazi’s kingdom and became the leader’s close friend and ally and through his good offices came early explorers and naturalists from Europe.
Mzilikazi was himself evicted from the Magaliesberg region by Dutch trekkers seeking new lands away from the British-ruled Cape. Conflict between Dutch (the Boers) and British eventually escalated into war and fortifications in the Magaliesberg are reminders of violent engagements during the Transvaal War of 1880 – 1881, the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 and the 1914 Rebellion.
In June 2015 the Magaliesberg has been declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, in which stakeholders voluntarily pursue three goals:
1) the conservation of landscapes, ecosystems and cultures
2) the development of a sustainable economy
3) the exchange of information, research and education
It is not just another bureaucratic layer, but a ‘’tool’’ to motivate people and nature living in harmony together.
Vist www.magaliesbergbiosphere.org.za for more information.