Explore Gauteng's hidden treasures

After weeks spent indoors, even those people who aren't typically avid hikers are dusting off their tekkies, eager to immerse themselves in the great outdoors again. While leisure travel remains restricted under level 3 of the lockdown, we are allowed to go on walks and hikes in our own province.

Some parks and reserves remain closed, but there are many outdoor spaces that are ready to welcome day visitors. Here are some.

Huddle Park

This property in Linksfield has opened its nature trails for cyclists, walkers and runners. It's open Tuesdays to Sundays from 6.30am to 5.30pm and Mondays from 10am to 5pm. Dogs are welcome, but need to be kept on a leash.

The golf course and restaurant are also open.

Pre-bookings are not required and day passes can be purchased from the pro shop.

Costs: R50 for adults and R30 for children under 12. Dogs enter for free, as do people with a membership card.

See huddlepark.com

Olive Tree Farm

Olive Tree Farm is a self-catering guest farm and B&B in the Magaliesberg, about an hour's drive from Joburg. Day visitors can enjoy walks and hikes on the 250ha property seven days a week, from 7am-4pm in winter and 6.30am-5.30pm in summer. They will take a maximum of 20 people per day, so booking is essential.

The property has three trails, 2km, 3km, or you can combine them for a longer walk.

Day visitors can bring their own picnic baskets or pre-order lunch - burger, chips and salad for R100 or kiddies' meals for R50 - from the B&B's kitchen.

Costs: Entrance is R75 for adults and R30 for under 18s.

See olivetreefarm.co.za or e-mail info@olivetreefarm.co.za

Northern Farm

Also known as the Diepsloot Nature Reserve, this is a 10-minute drive from Fourways. They operate strictly via an online booking system to control the number of people allowed into the reserve.

Once you have made an online booking, your name is placed on a list at the gate.

They cater primarily for mountain bikers and equestrian riders, but hikers can follow the marked routes throughout the 25,000ha private reserve. They are open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays from 7am to 5pm.

Cost: R60 per person (pp)

See northernfarm.org.za

Groenkloof Nature Reserve

The Groenkloof Nature Reserve in Pretoria is open for hikes and day drives every day between 7am and 5pm. They only allow 100 people at a time for hikes and 50 people for self-drives. No pre-booking is necessary and they operate on a first-come, first-served basis. They have three hiking trails: the 3,5km red trail, 3,7km white trail and 10,5km yellow trail.

Costs: R45 for adults, R30 for children aged 7-17 and R15 for under 7s. Phone 012-358-1757.

Hobby Park

Hobby Park in Krugersdorp is open to hikers from Wednesday to Sunday from 7am to 5pm. They only allow 50 people to enter at a time and operate on a first-come, first-served basis. The most popular is the 10km hike; they also have a 6km and 14km hike.

Costs: R50 for adults and R30 for children under 16. See hobbypark.co.za

Modderfontein Nature Reserve

This 275ha reserve on the outskirts of Edenvale offers hikers a 8,3km trail or shorter walks around the reserve. Cyclists can enjoy a 10km, 18km, 32km or 42km mountain-biking route. It's open daily from 6am to 6pm, but picnic areas remain closed. No bookings required.

Costs: R30 pp, R15 per child. See modderfonteinreserve.co.za

Magalies Mountain Lodge

This lodge in Kameeldrift West near Hartbeespoort has a 1,6km trail open daily, 8am to 5pm, which winds up the side of a mountain.

On weekends, hikers can pre-order a takeaway of a burger, chips and a milkshake to enjoy after completing the hike.

Bookings must be made and paid for in advance.

Costs: R60 pp for the hike and R125 for the hike and a takeaway burger, chips and drink. See magaliesmountainlodge.co.za

Hennops hiking trails

Just off the R511 en route to Hartbeesport, about 45 minutes from Joburg, you'll find these trails, which meander along the Hennops River before veering away into the surrounding mountains.

There are four trails to choose from, open daily: the 1,5km River trail, 2,5km Dassie trail, 5km Zebra trail and 10km Krokodilberg trail.

Over weekends you can start hiking from 7am and must start before 2pm.

The trails close at 5pm.

Costs: R80 pp, R40 per child. Preschool children enter for free. See hennopstrails.co.za

The happy hiker's must-have items

  • Appropriate clothing: It's winter, so stay warm and dress in layers. Comfort is key.
  • Nutrition: Always make sure you bring enough calories to sustain your energy for the entire hike. Fresh and dried fruit, nuts and energy bars are all endurance boosters and good snacks.
  • First-aid kit: The goods to attend to blisters, splinters and cuts are always a good idea. Keep it lightweight so it can fit in your backpack.
  • Water: The importance of staying hydrated cannot be overemphasised. At least 2 litres per person is good.
  • Hand sanitiser: Besides regular sanitising being a good idea, you may come across things like step ladders or hand rails for balance - best to sanitise after touching these surfaces.
  • Navigation: Maps - Most places will have maps, and then most navigation apps or the mapping function on your smartphone should do the trick.
  • Sun protection: Apply sunscreen often and also wear a hat. - Nomvelo Masango

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