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Kingdom Hiking Trails

Witbank, Mpumalanga

Kingdom Hiking Trails is a 15,000 ha privately owned nature reserve, one of the largest in Mpumalanga and South Africa. This pristine nature area is about 120 km north-east of Pretoria and Johannesburg. Hidden within a natural amphitheatre of the Olifants River Gorge, it encompasses the confluence of the Olifants and Wilge rivers in the escarpment break above Loskop Dam. It is an area of outstanding natural and scenic beauty that includes Highveld grasslands, red granite cliffs with seasonal springs, bushveld woodlands and dense riverine vegetation.

Activities at Kingdom Trails include hiking trails of differing durations and challenges, bird watching, game viewing. The two main hiking trails offer two-day circular hikes of ±16 km and 8 km each.

Accommodation facilities include four choices. One of these, a rustic base camp on the banks of the Wilge River, offers accommodation for up to 30 hikers in several separate huts.  Numerous indigenous wildlife species occur on the Kingdom Trails property, including kudu, impala, wildebeest and zebra.

Only 1.5 hours from O.R. Tambo International Airport and Pretoria via the N4, Kingdom Trails is easily accessed by road. The last 10 km, however, are on farm tracks which sometimes require 4WD during the rainy season or after rain showers.  Kingdom Trails is a malaria-free area.

The Kingdom Nature Reserve covers an area of 15,000 ha between Witbank and Loskop Dam in Mpumalanga Province.  Two main rivers, the Olifants and Wilge, meander between soaring cliffs and lush riverine bush. Most of the area is mountainous with gorges and red granite cliffs dropping steeply down to the rivers. The property’s altitude ranges between 1,120 m and 1,460 m, and between about 1,140 and 1,450 m in the hiking trails area itself. Annual rainfall for the region fluctuates between 600 and 750 mm.

Animals

There are wild animals at Kingdom Trails

  • Beware of crocodiles and hippos in the rivers (especially in rainy season)
  • Beware of free roaming leopards and buffalos (They have walked across from the Loskop Dam Nature reserve)
  • During the summer months please be careful when it comes to snakes, they are everywhere!

    They have never had a serious incident with any of the above-mentioned animals.  Please be vigilant and careful.

    Travelling to Kingdom Trails

    NB: Please note:
    • There are 2 access points to the trails, Slagthoek and Kingdom Camp. Please ensure you know which one to use. Kingdom Camp can only be reached by a 4×4 or a high clearance vehcile
    • You cannot travel across the farm if you make a mistake. The farm is 15,000 ha big.

    Kingdom Camp (Entrance A)

    Slaghoek House (Entrance B)

    General Notes

    • Hikers must bring their own sleeping bags, all food and drink.
    • NO WOOD ORDERS
    • Bedding and cutlery/crockery are NOT supplied
    • “Donkey” boilers provide hot water for showers (Kingdom Camp, Klip/Stone Camp & Slagthoek House).
    • River crossings are not advisable during the summer months. Crocodiles are present and pose a potential danger when the river flow is high.
    • Kingdom Camp: entry from the Witbank/Bronkhorstspruit (R544); 4×4 vehicle access.
    • Slagthoek House: entry via Middelburg (±40 km); 2×4 vehicle access.


    Rates:

    Min of 3 hikers


    All Camps:

    • R200.00 pp.pn – Adult
    • R100.00 pp.pn – U/10


    One-night Bookings:

    • R320.00 pp – Adult
    • R220.00 pp – U/10


    Day Visitors

    • R120.00 pp – Adult
    • R100.00 pp – U/10


    Admin Fee

    • R55.00 once off per reservation.

    Accommodation – Camp Information (4 Camps)

    • No power
    • Bring own cutlery, crockery, pots and pans
    • Bring own toilet paper
    • Donkey showers except for Grootdraai.
    • 4×4 or high clearance vehicles is needed to get to Kingdom Camp
    • There are no fridges or power at any of the camps
     
    Don’t forget to bring:
    • Torches or some form of lighting (No electricity available)
    • Sleeping bags or bedding
    • Cutlery and crockery
    • Hiking maps and directions (Cell phone reception limited to the top of the mountains)
    • Wood to cook at your base camp (wood can be ordered for the camp you are hiking to, orders must be made at least 3 days in advance)
    • Toilet paper

    Kingdom Camp – Entrance A: Sleeps 30  

    Has 30 beds in total, a bush swimming pool and undercover braai area.  There are two luxury chalets with en suite bathroom and private kitchen overlooking the Wilge River, and three chalets and a hikers’ hut with a separate reed lapa use communal ablutions. Each chalet has a private braai area.

    Donkey Showers
    4×4 or high clearance vehicles only

    Visarend (Own kitchen, share with Slangarend) Sleeps 4
    • Outside shower & toilet (cold water) + communal bathrooms Donkeys
    • 1 Double & Single beds
    Slangarend (Own kitchen, share with Visarend) Sleeps 5
    • Outside shower & toilet (cold water) + communal bathrooms Donkeys
    • 1 Double and 3 Single Beds
    Bosvark (Dorm style) – Sleeps 6. Own lapa
    • 6 Single Beds
    Boekenhout – Sleeps 8
    • 2 Bedrooms with 4 single beds in each
    • Communal kitchen, bathrooms (donkey), outside braai
    Papierbos – Sleeps 7
    • 2 Bedrooms: 1 Bedroom x 4 single beds and 1 Bedroom x 3 single beds
    • Communal kitchen, bathrooms (donkey), outside braai.

    Slagthoek Camp – Entrance B:  Sleeps 18

    Is a large thatch-roof, private farmhouse with attached hikers’ rooms and an outdoor braai facility and undercover leisure area.  The hikers’ rooms consist of two bedrooms (6 and 12 beds each) and an en suite bathroom. The Slagthoek House is surrounded by a large, attractive garden. The view from the house, which is below some cliffs, is very scenic.

    • Large old farmhouse
    • Donkey showers and toilets
    • Outside braai
    • Preferably 4×4 or high clearance vehicle especially during raining season

    Klip Kamp – Sleep 24

    Is nestled between huge rocks. This unique camp, which can accommodate up to 24 – 30 people, blends well with the surrounding red cliff faces just above the Olifants River. There are six rustic huts with a spacious braai and under-cover dining area and kitchen. The camp is within walking distance of a large pool in the Olifants River.

    Outside braai
    Donkey Showers
    Entrance 1 and 2

    On right just before communal kitchen/lounge 2 Rooms 
    • 1 x 4 Single Beds
    • 1 x 4 Single Beds
    2 Rooms: Just before pool – bottom left
    • 1 x 4 Single beds – sleeps 4
    • 1 x Double and 2 single beds – sleeps 4
    At pool
    • 2 x single beds – sleeps 2 (cement slabs)
    At top
    • 2 x single beds – sleeps 2 (cement slabs)
    Honeymoon Suite:
    • Sleeps 5

      Grootdraai – Sleep 16

      Is a rustic hut situated above series of large pools and rapids in the Olifants River with a breathtaking view overlooking an oxbow island in the river. Grootdraai Hut derives its name from the Olifants River’s wide circle (“groot draai”) below the camp. Grootdraai is a hikers’ hut with 16 beds and an enviro-toilet. Ablution is in the river. Grootdraai Hut offers a true rustic bush experience with particularly stunning views.

      Accommodates up to 16 people.

      • One large hut with 3 walls
      • No shower
      • EnviroLoo
      • Water in 20l drums provided.

        Trails

        • There are various routes you can use between camps.
        • Ensure you are clear as to which route you are using.
        • You must take your hiking trail map with you.
        • To help you find your way we have numbered various trail intersections so that you can easily orientate yourself using your map.

        River Crossings

        • There is only one place to cross the river when it is in flood. It is a low level car bridge
        • During the rainy season if this low level crossing is also under water there is NO other safe river crossing.
        • We advise some form of water proofing for your bag when you cross the river at any time of year.

        Recommended 3-4 day options

        • Arrive and spend first night at Slagthoek.
        • Day 1: Hike from Slagthoek to Grootdraai.
        • Day 2: From Grootdraai to Kingdom.
        • Day 3: From Grootdraai back to Slagthoek (3 day option).
        • Day 3: From Grootdraai to Klip Camp. Day Four: Klip Camp back to Slagthoek (4 day option).

        OR

        • These trails can also be started from Kingdom Camp – keep in mind you need Bakkies/ 4×4’s to get to Kingdom camp specially in rainy season.

        The Trails:
         
        Kingdom Trails offers two main hiking trail routes, each with various options:

        Kingdom Trail

        • Snaaksekrans Loop – 13km
        • Paradors – 12km


        Slagthoek Trail

        • God’s Window Loop – 12km
        • Cycad Loop – 11km


        Kingdom Camp Trail
        From Kingdom Camp there are three trail options:

        Paradors/Donkerkloof Loop (±8 km/±4 hrs) – circular route ascending steeply behind Kingdom Camp in a westerly direction to open bushveld. The route also goes through a shady kloof and past a natural fountain surrounded by tree ferns. Mountain zebra and eland are often seen. Typical trees along this route include naboom and proteas. The route is marked with yellow trail foot markers.
         
        Overnight Hike – Snaaksekrans Loop has two possibilities: a hike to (a) Slagthoek House or (b) Grootdraai Hut. The route is marked with white trail foot markers.

        1. Hike to Slagthoek House: Crossing the Olifants River is necessary for this hike. Route starts with a gentle climb along the banks of a stream before ascending steeply onto the high ridge. There is a magnificent view of the Olifants/Wilge confluence, and the path then descends to the river itself. There are rocks and boulders to negotiate, but the scenery is breathtaking with several rapids and pools for cooling down – especially in the hot summer months. The trail crosses the Olifants River twice and after rain or during the rainy season the current can be quite strong when the river is high.


        There are two possibilities: hikers destined for Slagthoek House can turn left (distance ±3 km), or hikers can proceed to Grootdraai Hut with the path to the right (distance ±5 km).  To reach Slagthoek House hikers must climb a steep gorge with numerous boulders.

        1. Hike to Grootdraai Hut: From the river crossing the path ascends steeply towards Snaaksekrans which is visible in the distance. It then meanders along the cliff ridge above the Olifants River with spectacular views to the distant large pools. From Grootdraai Hut hikers go via Bamboeskloof which ascends to the south through wooded valleys to the upper high plateau linking Paradors Loop with Donkerkloof and Kingdom Camp.


        Slagthoek House Trail
        Two circular hiking routes can be followed from Slagthoek House:
         

        1. God’s Window Route (±12 km): Climbing gently from Slagthoek House the track continues to a viewpoint high above the Olifants River. There are magnificent views of the steep cliffs descending vertically down to the Olifants River far below. Eventually the track drops down via Gifkoppie to a large pool in the Olifants River. From there the track continues up a steep rocky ravine back to Slagthoek House.

         

        1. Cycad Route (±11 km): A steady walk along an old farm road leads into Boschkloof farm to the south where a permanent, natural stream cascades down numerous waterfalls on its way down to the Olifants River. The route follows its course and eventually ascends through a cycad garden to a series of grass-covered valleys higher up. A link path here connects with the island crossing to Grootdraai Hut if preferred. For those opting to return to Slagthoek House the path continues with magnificent views to the west of Snaaksekrans and distant hills before descending back to Slagthoek House.


        There is a link path from Slagthoek House to Grootdraai Hut connecting the Island Crossing Route (±6 km).


        General Notes

        • Hikers must bring their own sleeping bags, all food and drink.
        • NO WOOD ORDERS
        • Bedding and cutlery/crockery are NOT supplied
        • “Donkey” boilers provide hot water for showers (Kingdom Camp, Klip/Stone Camp & Slagthoek House).
        • River crossings are not advisable during the summer months. Crocodiles are present and pose a potential danger when the river flow is high.

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