Tierfontein Hiking Trails

Vredefort Dome, Potchefstroom, Northwest Province


South Africa is an amazing place. Not only because of its current perspective but also as a result of the fascinating history that has befallen the area over billions of years. Sites such as Sterkfontein and the Cradle of  Humankind, the meteorite craters at Tswaing and Vredefort and the remains of the Cape Fold Mountains are just instances of this richness and we as hikers are privileged to be able to enjoy walking through these areas of archeological and geological importance.

The Vredefort Dome is the site of the largest known meteorite impact to have hit the earth. It happened, the geologists tell us, more than 2 billion years ago. The asteroid that hit the earth is estimated to have been 10km in diametre. The original crater is estimated to have been 250/300 km in diametre. The Vredefort dome was declared a World Heritage Site in July 2005. For more detailed information visit HartRAO at www.hartrao.ac.za/other/vredefort/vredefort.html

 

Satellite view of the Vredefort impact site showing the mountains to the North. The South Eastern part was flooded by sediments of the Karoo Supergroup. Credit: Earth Sciences and Image Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Centre. Thanks also to Hartrao for much of the information.

A Google zoomable map of the area is also available 

http://maps.google.com/maps?ll=-27.010000,27.375000&spn=2.217700,3.825165&t=k&hl=en

         
 

There are 3 camps at Tierfontein to suite the requirements of most people. Boplaas camp is scheduled to sleep 26 people. It has a kitchen with gas burner, electric light and fridge. There is a donkey boiler to heat the water. There is a thatched lapa with braai which comes in handy if the weather turns nasty. An advantage of this camp is its swimming pool that is handy in summer after the hike.

 
 
         
 
 

From Boplaas the trail winds upwards along a well marked path.

 
         
 

Once the top is reached, one comes across the second camp, Oppikant, a beautiful thatched camp that is ideal for two couples. The camp is fully equipped and an ideal getaway for a weekend in the bush.

 
 
         
 
 

The third camp is also quite close by and is called the Bundu Camp. The camp consists of 3 traditional thatched Twana huts with dung floors, bunk beds and mattresses. It accommodates 26 people. The huts are situated on  the top of the mountain with panoramic views of the valley below. A kitchen lapa equipped with washing up area, pots, pans, kettle, gas stove, lanterns and candles but no fridge. There is another lapa with tables and chairs and a braai area. Ablutions are two flush toilets and one hot shower and one cold.

 
         
 

The main trail (Summit Route) is11km long and offers surprising views across the surrounding mountains. The first part of the trails follows the ridge to the beacon before descending to walk through a valley. The last part consists of a short climb along a kloof followed by a easy descent to the huts.

 
 
         
 
 

The magnitude of the meteorite collision can only be marveled at when one views the mountains that surround one. It is also difficult to try an comprehend the time scale

 
         
 

We walked the trail at the beginning of September and so everything was still in its winter state. However, we plan to visit again after rain to see what it is like in its green glory.

 
 
         
 
 

There are actually 4 trails to choose from at Tierfontein. This includes a birding route and a one that visits the site of Askoppies, the ancient Matabele city that once housed about 20,000 people in the 1500's and 1700's. Gold was also discovered in the area but not in sufficient quantities to sustain commercial mining.

 

 

Click on the maps for larger image

Conclusion

Tierfontein is a lovely trail and relatively easy. It is suitable for the beginner and I would suggest, for the whole family. The trail is well marked although one needs to be aware that one follows the Rooihaas markers on the return trip on the summit trail. The accommodation is excellent and well maintained.

Bookings

The Tierfontein Trails and facilities can be booked through

Anvie Ventures

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Telephone +27 12 662 0586/1140

e-mail anvie@xsinet.co.za


Footprint Hiking Club

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