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Suikerboschfontein Hiking Trail

Mpumalanga, Carolina

Situated about 20km north east of Carolina, Mpumalanga, Suikerboschfontein offers 38km of trails which include base camp, backpack, 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 wildflowers. 160 bird species have been recorded on the terrain, amongst which the Knysna Lourie, Bald Ibus and large eagles, baboons, monkeys, bush pigs, wart hogs, 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. Firewood, 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 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. 

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 x 3 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.


  • R270.00 per person per night; minimum 2 day/night booking over weekends.
  • R180.00 children u/12 with family;
  • R390.00 – Adult – 1 night / 1 day
  • R300.00 – U/12 – 1 night / 1 day
  • No discount for youth groups;
  • R120.00 per person day visitors – Adult
  • R100.00 per person day visitors – U/12

Admin Fee:

  • R55.00 once off per reservation.
Suikerboschfontein Hiking Trail

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