Vredefort Meteorite Trail

Parys, Free State

Offering beautiful views of the Vredefort Dome from high ridges, the trails, situated in the southwestern part of the Dome, lead the visitor to a variety of secluded and untouched areas which are equally interesting from the historical, geological and natural perspectives. The highest point in the Dome lies on the route, as well as a long stretch of forest on the Vaal river bank. In between, rock paintings and remnants from the Boer War and the gold mining may be seen. The trails traverses a variety of habitats ranging from bushveld through forest to high rocky ridges, where naturally occurring game, birds and indigenous plants are an attraction.

There are 3 huts with day trails from each camp.

Vredefort Dome:

The Meteorite Hiking Trails offer many scenic routes through this newest Natural World Heritage site of South Africa, which is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world.

The landscape is dominated by the high concentric ridges covered largely with naturally occurring bushveld vegetation. The area is very rich in plant and animal life and hosts many endemic species. One may see blesbok, duiker, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, kudu, warthog, jackal, caracal and brown hyena.  Many bird species occur, from fish eagles and the heron family at the river to the ubiquitous guinea fowl and corn birds. More than 50 tree species may be seen, such as jacket plum, sweet thorn, cabbage tree and wild olive.

This landscape of this important geological site came into being about 2200 million years ago when an enormously large body of rock, an asteroid of about 10 km in diameter, struck the earth where the town of Vredefort lies today. During the ensuing time, much of the upper strata have been removed by erosion.

The characteristic circular structure of the Dome originated from the once horizontal rock layers that have been turned through more than 90 degrees by the impact, the harder strata forming the ridges, while the softer material was eroded to form the valleys in between. The area has long been an important study field for geologist all over the world and is currently attracting much attention from scholars in all fields.

Climate:

This is a summer rainfall area. Days may become very hot in summer, and in winter the nights may be cold, although frost is rare. Mosquitos are rarely a nuisance, monkeys may steal when offered a chance, and there are no dangerous wild animals.

Trails:

Day trails from each of the 3 base camps.

  • The overnight backpack route between Thwane and Deelfontein is now open again. Thwane – Deelfontein: 8km.
  • Deelfontein – Thwane: 4 km

Overnight between Deelfontein and Baskop: 15 and 14 km per day, circular backpack trail

The Trails:

 Deelfontein Summit Trail:

  • 3km
  • Moderately strenuous
  • Elevation difference: 100m.
  • Total cumulative ascent/descent: 100m.

This circle route, starting from the Deelfontein camp site, scales the ridge behind the camp and again affords beautiful views to both sides. The savanna thorn bush vegetation is typical for the Dome.

Deelfontein Valley Route:
  • 2km.
  • Easy.
  • Elevation difference: 40m.
  • Total cumulative ascent/descent: 40m.

Passing through savannah, a forest and along a perennial dam, this section affords easy hiking and good birding opportunities. In a section using a natural water course of up to three metres deep, interesting soil strata may be observed.

Baskop Circle Route 1:

8km.

A moderate route passes through thick forest along an estuary of the river and a vlei, offering good birding opportunities. It encircles Baskop and its slightly lower sister hill, and runs along the river, in the shade of the riverine forest, where numerous water birds may be observed.

Baskop Circle Route 2:

4km.

A shorter option encircles Baskop only, affording similar views, vegetation and birding opportunities.

Combine the North and South trails for a 12 km circular day hike

Thwane (North):
  • 8km
  • Moderate
  • Elevation difference: 80m.
  • Total cumulative ascent/descent: 227m.

This trail passes by Dwarsberg, the highest point in the Dome, where the largest stand of protea in the Free State may be seen. It follows the high ridges for most of the way, offering the best views of the impact structure available in the Dome. Passing through the typical savanna thorn bush vegetation, one encounters several interesting iron age stone enclosures along the way.

Thwane (South):
  • 4km.
  • Easy.
  • Elevation difference: 80m.

Total cumulative ascent/descent: 140m. This section affords beautiful views over the Dome. Passing through the typical savanna thorn bush vegetation, one encounters iron age stone enclosures along the way.

 

Accommodation:

Deelfontein Hikers Camp:

The facilities at Deelfontein bush camp consists of three thatched huts with two rooms each.  Electric lights (batteries installed, electric lights only). Cooking, grilling and dining in a lapa equipped with a gas stove and gas fridge. Cutlery and crockery supplied. Hot water from two donkeys. Light from paraffin lamps. A swimming pool and sauna under construction. Sleeping: 16 Beds with mattresses but without bedding and pillows. Washing: Bathrooms with running potable water, washing basins, showers or bathtubs, toilets. Please supply own towel, soap and toilet paper. Cooking: Fireplace for grilling, stove, sink, pots and pans, table and seating, cutlery and crockery. Please supply all other equipment such as matches and dishwashing liquid. Firewood is supplied. Gas fridge – prior booking @ R80.00 per day

Baskop Bush Camp:

The facilities at Baskop Bush Camp consist of a large old farm house on the river bank. Electrical light, stove and fridge.

Two bathrooms with bathtubs and showers. Facilities for grilling on the lawn or indoors.

Baskop Bush Camp accommodates 16 hikers, the maximum hiking group size. Sleeping: Beds with mattresses but without bedding and pillows. Washing: Bathrooms with running potable water, washing basins, showers or bathtubs, toilets. Please supply own towel, soap and toilet paper.

Additional house available, sleeping 10 people.  Electricity, beds &, mattresses

Cooking: Fireplace for grilling, stove, sink, pots and pans, table and seating. Please supply all other equipment such as cutlery, crockery, matches and dishwashing liquid. Firewood is supplied.

Baskop Family Unit:

2 double beds and 5 single beds

Well appointed self catering house

Situated 800 m from the river with view over the farm and mountains

Thwane Bush Camp:

The facilities at Thwane consist of a bush camp with three permanent tents with a separate ablution block and own lapa.  The Lapa is equipped with gas stove, sink, pots and pans, tables and chairs, cutlery, glasses and electric fridge/freezer. Bedding and blankets can be supplied at additional cost (R30.00 pp). Swimming pool is available to all guests. The accommodation falls under the Green Flag grading category of: EXCELLENT.

There is also the option of accommodation in luxury safari-style tents with en-suite bathrooms. Please enquire when booking.  Catering on request for groups of 10 or more people

Rates:
Baskop Bush Camp
  • R180.00 pp.pd – Adult
  • R145.00 pp.pd – Children

 

Baskop Family Unit
  • R180.00 pp.pd without linen.
  • R250.00 pp.pd with linen.

 

Twane Bush Camp:
  • R180.00 pp.pd – Adult
  • R145.00 pp.pd – Children

 

Admin Fee:
  • R55.00 once off per reservation
  • Day Visitors – R75.00 pp