Suikerboschfontein Hiking Trail

Carolina, Mpumalanga

Situated about 20km northeast of Carolina, Mpumalanga, Suikerboschfontein offers 38km of trails which include base camp, backpack, slack pack and day trails.

The farm of 1244 hectare is within easy reach of Gauteng (250km). Suikerboschfontein has been in the Van Niekerk family for over 100 years and was proclaimed the Paulina van Niekerk Nature Reserve in 1965. Due to large variation in terrain forms and flora, Suikerboschfontein can be visited throughout the year. There is not necessarily a “best season” for hiking in this beautiful nature reserve.

Suikerboschfontein offers an outdoor experience any hiker would like to share with other enthusiasts and experience again and again. The gorgeous unspoiled natural beauty, with interesting variations offers surprises around every corner. Fern-rich indigenous wooded ravines with clear streams and waterfalls create a restful atmosphere. Ancient ruins as well as rock art contribute to the large variety of experiences along the trails. Unique rock formations of weathered sandstone covered with lichen create a fantasy world of form and colour. The seven streams encountered on the routes arise from fountains on the property and yield pure clear drinking water.

There are more than 90 identified and marked tree species and even larger varieties of wild flowers. 160 bird species have been recorded on the terrain, amongst which the Knysna Lourie, Bald Ibis and large eagles, baboons, monkeys, bush pigs, warthogs, klipspringers, rhebuck and other small fauna are frequently encountered along the trails. The two overnight camps are 10km apart and linked by a circular route. Both camps can be reached by means of ordinary vehicles and the hike can start at either of the camps. By including some of the day trails of 8km, 4.5km, 3km and 2.5km one can hike for 3 days in which case 2 nights would be spent at Rooikrans camp. Each camp sleeps 21 hikers in huts or rooms with 3 to 7 beds each.

The units are self-catering and only beds, mattresses and cooking facilities are provided. The bathrooms have flush toilets and warm water is provided by “donkey” fired boilers. Fire wood, cooking facilities, hiking sticks, candles and small gas stoves are also provided. Hikers must bring their own sleeping bags, food and drinks and a torch to light the way to the bathrooms at night. The trails with GREENFLAG accreditation are scientifically designed and expertly laid out to meet the needs of hikers and also conserve the area.

The day trails have a flush toilet at the starting/finishing point.There is a lapa in the shade next to a stream about 2km from the end of the 8km trail (Grootkloof). A gas braai is available at this picnic spot. The 2.5km trail (Sederberg) is specially designed for inexperienced or unfit hikers. It covers a beautiful area and is an easy walk.

Overnight Routes
Rooikrans to Oom Japie (10 km)

The first part of the route winds through large rocks until it reaches the cliff (Grootkloof). The trail then goes along the edge to Mooifontein waterfall. This part of the route is dangerous and hikers must be very careful. After crossing a grassland hill the trail descends to the S-draaikloof with numerous waterfalls and shady trees. Leaving this kloof a long stretch of grass veld follows before Gladdekloof will be hiked upstream. The path leaves the stream and goes over Suikerbosrand to Oom Japie. Hikers can have a swim at Fern Pool before reaching the house half a kilometer further on.

Oom Japie to Rooikrans (10 km)

This trail descends for 2km through grasslands into the valley to the foot of Geelhoutkrans. There is a beautiful resting spot in the shade of large yellowwood trees. Rock art and Bobbejaanhotel will be found just a little bit further on. Hikers can leave their packs here and climb the steel ladders to explore the “hotel”. Others can  stay behind and have a look at “Bushman paintings” behind the tree with the board on. Please note that these paintings are vulnerable and may not be touched. From here the trail ascends to higher terrain and goes along the edge of the plateau until descending to the valley where it crosses the stream after 7 km. There are ancient and also more recent ruins to be seen on this route. The trail to Rooikrans goes upwards through the Dying Sun Chariot Temple, down to the valley and up through the Skeurkloof’. Hikers can cool off at Rock Pool before Rooikrans appears as a surprise between the rocks.

Day Hikes

Day hikes start about 300 meters from Rooikrans Camp on the way to Oom Japie.  The four routes are marked with yellow markers and there is a flush toilet at the starting point.

Grootkloof – 8km – Difficult

The route descends steeply to the first series of cliffs and a waterfall. From there it gradually winds down to the bottom of the great gorge (Grootkloof) and along the stream to Mooifontein waterfall. The route continues along the foot of the cliffs to the tip of the look out/rest point. From there it descends sharply to the stream which it crosses several times until it reaches the braai lapa at the bottom of Gladdekloof. This is about 6km from the start under shady trees next to a lovely clear stream. A gas braai is available here. The route now crosses the stream and turns sharply to the right to join the route from Oom Japie (white markers) below Skeurkloof. The two routes together go through the gorge, up the ladders, past Rock Pool and Rooikrans camp back to the starting point.

Tempelmurasie – 4.5km – Easy

The route crosses the road to Rooikrans at the bridge and follows the stream downwards past Rock Pool above Skeurkloof. The route on the northern side of Skeurkloof to the fenced ruins goes past large rocks and commands beautiful views across the valley. The Dying Sun Chariot Temple was built in order to view the midwinter sunset (June 21) over the top of Doornkop. The return route rejoins the route with which you came at Rock Pool. Hikers can have a swim here before returning to the starting point.

Skeurkloof – 3km – Moderately Easy

This shorter route descends steeply to below the cliffs from where it gradually slopes to the stream where it makes a sharp turn to the left. Here it joins Grootkloof route.

Sederberg – 2.5km – Easy

The similarity of the rock formations along this route to the Sederberg mountain range grants this route its name.  It is an easy route amongst large rocks and a beautiful lookout point across Grootkloof. A waterhole where it is safe to swim is an ideal resting point.  The way back joins to the first part of the route.

Suikerboschfontein hiking trail:

  • 21 hikers per base camp; and
  • 21 Day hikers.

Degree of difficulty:

  • Average to difficult.

Basic Hikers accommodation:

Oom Japies Holiday home:

  • 7 bed, 6 bed, 4 and 4 bed

Rooikrans camp:

  • 3 x 6 beds and 1 x3 beds
  • 21 beds with mattresses;
  • Donkey-fired geyser; and
  • Toilets and showers.

Kitchen facilities at both camps:

  • Kettle;
  • 3 legged potjie;
  • Potjies size: Small: 1  Falkirk no. 1;
  • Bigger pots: 1x Three legged R 7 and;
  • 1 x flat bottom R6 at Rooikrans camp.
  • Pans and pots;
  • Braai grid and wood;
  • Gas “griller” supplied at day hike lunch spot;

Pertinent information:

  • Weather patterns can be variable; and
  • Combine the day trails as a third day to overnight at Rooikrans for two nights.
  • Both camps can be reached by car.
  • There is a fire danger in winter
  • You enter this trail at your own risk.
  • Take own lighting (torches, lamps / candles)

Location of trail:

  • 20 km from Carolina; and
  • 220 km from Gauteng.

 Cost:

  • R180.00 per person per day overnight; minimum 2 day/night booking over weekends
  • R100.00 children u/12 with family;
  • No discount for youth groups;
  • R75.00 per person day visitors; and
  • R55.00 admin fee once off per reservation.
  • PREFERENCE TO BACKPACK HIKERS AUGUST – MAY. Bookings for day trails from Rooikrans in this period only accepted one week prior to visit
  • Week bookings for 2 day / 1 night trail @ 1 ½ rate in stead of 2 full days