Thabaphaswa Mountain Sanctuary Limpopo
Thabaphaswa Mountain Sanctuary blog

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A BIG thank-you to TOP Dogs for visiting Deon in hospital

Top Dogs Therapy Dogs with Deon of Thabaphaswa

Deon would like to thank Therapy Top Dogs for visiting him in hospital.

These people (and dogs) provide an incredible service! Touch Our Pets Therapy Dogs (TOP Dogs) take dogs to hospitals and other venues to make people's lives easier and to promote recovery.

Top Dogs - Therapy Dogs dogs, Deon wants you to know that you are great dogs and great people and he appreciates your work!

Please help us promote their work

The misunderstood Brown Hyena

brown hyena by harald landsrath pixabay Steeped in myths and legends regarding magical powers, hermaphroditism and black magic, and more recently cast as villains by Disney, the hyena family undoubtedly suffers from a bad reputation. With their gentle, social interactions and strong kin bonds rarely witnessed, and their reputation amongst farmers as a livestock predator, the misunderstood and secretive brown hyena currently faces a battle for survival.

Read more about this victim of human ignorance

Thabaphaswa increasingly recognized as top rock climbing destination.

Beacon at the top of Thaba Phaswa

The Magaliesberg Section of the SA Mountain Club has again booked at Thabaphaswa for the weekend 26-28 July.

Climbing will take place at Wellington Rock, which is nearby, and at Thabaphaswa.

An important project has now started to bolt 4 new climbs and to rebolt 7 existing climbs at Thabaphaswa. Neil Margetts of the SA Climbing Academy will execute this project.

A new trail, leading to the summit of Thabaphaswa mountain, is presently being cleared. It starts at the Mountain Fig Camp. The three crags of the Thabaphaswa Mountain holds a big potential to develop many new climbs. This new trail will be also used for this purpose.

Thabaphaswa Mountain is the highest in the area and provides wonderful views from the summit. Therefor hikers can also enjoy this new trail.

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Fiona McIntosh writes about Thabaphaswa

Fiona McIntosh travel writer in south africa

Fiona McIntosh. Pic: Country Life

Well-known travel writer, Fiona McIntosh rates Thabaphaswa a worthwhile hiking destination.

Her article about 8 of the best hiking trails appeared in AA Travel Magazine. Click here to download the pdf of the article

He is ready to climb the rocks at Thabaphaswa!

Joost Gerrits and wife visits Thabaphaswa

Joost Gerrits and his granddaughter running in Holland

A Dutch couple, Joost Gerrits and his wife, stayed in the Pumphouse at Thabaphaswa recently during their tour of South Africa.

Joost is 70 and still quite fit, and he enjoyed hiking and trail running on the farm.

Photo: Joost Gerrits and his granddaughter in action in Holland. Joost enjoyed the hiking and trail running on Thabaphaswa

Scouts get rock climbing credentials at Thabaphaswa

The Scouts recently visited Thabaphaswa to acquire their rock climbing credentials.

Our resident rock climbing specialist, Miena Venter and her son Jaco, took them through their training.

Thabaphaswa is ideally suited to this type of activity becasue it caters for different degrees of difficulty on the various climbing routes.

Contact us for information

Miena and Jaco initiating the Scouts the evening before their climbing adventure at Thabaphaswa Miena and Jaco initiating the Scouts the evening before their climbing adventure
Jaco shows the Scouts how to rock climb at Thabaphaswa Jaco shows the Scouts how to rock climb at Thabaphaswa
The Scouts came across a puffadder at Thabaphaswa The Scouts met a local resident at Thabaphaswa
Valentine's special 2019

Natural products now on sale at Thabaphaswa

As you may know, Thabaphaswa offers traditional dishes for our visitors.

An extension of this is that Thabaphaswa will now offer products made from plants, vegetables, herbs and fruits that occur naturally in the area.

These products include purslane, morogo or African spinach, marula and the imported peppadew produced on a neighbouring farm. Many of these products can be considered organic as it grows in natural surroundings with no human intervention. All are also health foods.

Our natural products include:

  • Salsa
  • Fermented vegetables
  • Pickled vegetables
  • Pesto
  • Chutney and
  • Health tea

All the products are available for purchase by our guests or as ingredients in prepared dishes. Many guests buy these products for consumption on their Botswana tours.

An additional advantage is that it creates jobs for local rural women.

If you are interested in dishes which have these ingedients, let us know when you do your booking. Prepared products are available on the farm

Wits University Mountain Club 2018 year-end function at Thabaphaswa

Thabaphaswa hosted members of the Wits University Mountain Club over the weekend of 1 December 2018.

The club held their year-end function while on their Thabaphaswa climbing weekend. Thirty club members attended and they held a formal dinner in the veld with tuxedo's and evening dresses.

We had to bring in tables and chairs as we don't usually cater for this kind of event, but it was a great privilege to host these positive young people.

Among the attendees were four champion climbers who enjoyed climbing at Thabaphaswa just as much as we enjoyed having them on the farm.

You can read more about the Wits University Mountain Club here.

Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Wtts Mountain Club year-end function at Thabaphaswa
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Children always have fun at Thabaphaswa
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Dinner table in the bushveld
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Dinner table in the bushveld
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Beauty in the bush
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Style in the bush
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Style in the bush
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Climbing before the dinner
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Soul-cleaning nature at Thabaphaswa
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Calling all climbers
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Sort out the seating
Wits mountain club year-end function 2018 Bye-bye till next year

Bat Interest Group visits Thabaphaswa

Julio Balona and his Bat Interest Group will visit Thabaphaswa again from 7 - 9 December 2018.

Julio is an appreciated friend of Thabaphaswa, and we ar happy to be a part of the great work his organisation do in ensuring the well-being of these important mammals.

Cape serotine bat at Thabaphaswa Cape serotine bat - Photo: Erna Balona
Egyptian free tailed bat at Thabaphaswa Egyptian Free Tail bat - Photo: Adri Knoetze
Cape slit-faced bat at Thabaphaswa Egyptian Slit Face bat- Photo: Cory Toussaint

See more photos in the fauna and flora gallery

Rock climber finds rare "cultivated cabbage" at Thabaphaswa

Hermien, our rock climbing adventurer, found this plant while exploring Thabaphaswa Mountain for new climbing routes.

It is Cyhostemma oleraceum. This genus forms part of of the grape family - Vitacea. There are 31 species of this genus in Southern Africa.

This species is seldom seen. Oleraceum derives from Latin for the cultivated cabbage, because of the cabbage like leaves.

Black Eagle hiking trail Thabaphaswa Cyhostemma oleraceum, the cultivated cabbage
Black Eagle hiking trail Thabaphaswa Cyhostemma oleraceum
Black Eagle hiking trail Thabaphaswa Cyhostemma oleraceum found on Thabaphaswa mountain

Thabaphaswa camp sites increasing due to popular demand

Since we started in 1997 with only one campsite, the Thabaphaswa Camp Site, we have experienced strong growth in demand the for campsites.

We now have more than 20 campsites, but this did not proof enough to meet the demand over the last few weekends. Our challenge is to develop more campsites while maintaining the character of privacy and the atmosphere that comes from being alone in the bush.

We experience an increase in demand for larger campsites for campers with bigger 4x4 caravans with large tents.

In response, we embarked on the development of several new camping sites. This enables us to avoid over-concentration in existing camping areas.

The following camping areas will in future be available to visitors:

  1. The Camping area at the foot of the Thabaphaswa Mountain;
  2. The Riverside camping area;
  3. The Koppie-Alleen camping area - to be completed before middle December
  4. The Midstream Camping area - to be completed before middle December;
  5. The Mahlare Camping area - to be completed by March 2019.

Thabaphaswha Mountain Sanctuary - Black Eagle hiking trail

I am very excited to announce an upgrade on the Black Eagle hiking trail, done a few weeks ago.

Our Thabaphaswha Team (Hermien Venter, Jaco Venter, Johannes and Frans) had absolute fun and wonderful weather working on setting up two chains, and the pole steps on the Black Eagle Hiking Trail.

We set up two chains of 10m and 6m that is fixed with bolts, when one descent from the top or hike up from Dome Rock to hold on for balance. We also restored the steps with new poles and rocks to ensure comfortable walking. Come and enjoy hiking at Thabaphaswha Mountain Sanctuary!


Black Eagle hiking trail Thabaphaswa Black Eagle hiking trail
Black Eagle hiking trail Thabaphaswa Black Eagle hiking trail
Black Eagle hiking trail Thabaphaswa Johannes and Frans of Thabaphaswa install chains to make the ascent easier for hikers on the Black Eagle hiking route at Thabaphaswa

SJ van der Merwe and his Unimog at Thabaphaswa

Over a period of more then 20 years we have received campers with a variety of interesting 4x4's

Recently we were visited by SJ van der Merwe from Polokwane who indicated that he will be a regular patron in future.

This is only the second UniMog Camper visiting us in 20 years. The first one was named a " GiraffeMog" and features in pone of our earlier blog posts.

Thabaphaswa a favourite place for special occasions

We are often visited by people who want to celebrate special occasions.

Tim Andrews invited his friends and family for an ostrich neck potjie to celebrate his 50th birthday. It was a joyful team effort to prepare this potje and then to devour it together.

Tim Andrews and friends Tim Andrews and friends
Tim Andrews and friends

The weekend of 11 and 12 August delivered a good harvest of campers.

Sixty-one campers with 21 dogs ensured a sociable weekend which was a continuation of what we have experienced during the first part of 2018.

Campers increasingly ask for larger camping spots, away from other campers. At the same time there is an increase in group size and 4X4 caravans.

Although Thabaphaswa has always catered for these campers, we are in the process of creating more such camping spots. Four more large, more isolated camping spots will be completed before December. The first three of these will be completed before the end of September 2018.


We received three different groups of hikers in August, who reported their enjoyment of our facilities and who had a great opportunity to relax and rest well.

hikers at Thabaphaswa Campers and hikers ...
hikers at Thabaphaswa campers and hikers ...
hikers at Thabaphaswa and more campers and hikers!

May 2018 long weekend a roaring success

The long weekend broke all records for Thabaphaswa.

All our accommodation were fully booked and we also received a flood of unexpected campers. We had 16 campsites prepared but had to quickly develop 8 more, on a temporary basis, to accommodate all the groups of campers.

Because our bush camps, cottages and campsites are spread out on the farm and in the bush, nobody felt crowded.

Hermien Venter took 6 people for training in rock climbing.

All and all we had 76 visitors over the weekend who had 61 dogs with them. Everybody had a great time and we received no complaints.

It was a tough weekend with Deon who had to act as receptionist, mobile connection provider and chief wood seller.

We thoroughly enjoyed having all these guests on Thabaphaswa!

Hiking increases at Thabaphaswa

Hiking is increasing noticeably at Thabaphaswa

One of the hiking clubs that we see regularly is organised by Lettie Chuene who brought a group of 15 hikers over the weekend of 21 April 2018.

The increase in popularity of hiking among your black adventurers is an exciting development.

Hikers leave from the homestead for a hike on Thabaphaswa Camp fire at Thabaphaswa
Hikers at Thabaphaswa Hiking club members at Thabaphaswa
Hikers Hikers at Thabaphaswa

Cycle grids installed for mountain bikers

Cycle grids (A-frames) have been installed on the Thabaphaswa Mountain Bike Routes.

Bikers do not need to stop and open gates anymore when riding.

For the newbies, we provide this Mountain Biking 101 advice by our mountain bike adviser:

Riding an A-frame

Riding over an A-frame or similar structure can be compared to climbing onto a curb with your bike.

The key to remember is not to use your brakes at all as you go over the A-frame structure. Using your brakes will cause your centre of gravity to move too far forward, which in turn can cause you to go over your handle bar. If you do not brake and keep your body weight backwards, you can’t fall over your handle bar!

Approach the structure with a relatively low speed, but still with enough momentum so that you can almost free-wheel over it. Lift your bum slightly out of the saddle so that your bike can move freely below your body.

As your front wheel is about to make contact with the structure, compress you front shock by leaning your weight forward and then pull sharply up on your handle bars and lean you weight backwards to remove all weight off your front wheel. This will assist your front wheel to ride up and over the A-frame structure.

If you do not have enough momentum to get to the top, simply peddle a bit to get you to the top of the A-frame structure, until you bike starts to ride down the other side. Once you get to the top of the A-frame structure, straighten your arms and move your centre of gravity as far back as possible.

The easiest way to do this is to move your bum to the back of your saddle.

Allow your bike to free-wheel down the other side of the A-frame, without touching any of your brakes.

Read more about our mountain bike trails

Thabaphaswa dams are overflowing!

Thabaphaswa's 7 dams in the mountain stream are overflowing for the the first time in its existence.

Visitors can see the beautiful view, swim in a farm dam and children catch small fish. Two new ziplines (foefieslides) have also been installed and ensured a lot of fun during December 2013.

Our kind visitors and guests continuously share photos and videos on our Facebook Page

Thank you from Townsends' Adventure Lifestyles

Hi Deon

Thanks again for hosting Townsends’ Adventure Lifestyles as well as The Ridge School Gr. 6 boys. We had a great time and the boys really enjoyed the Zipline as well as being in the bush and away from city life. Using Domerock, Kanniedood and Bergvy camps simultaneously with the 3 different groups of boys hiking between each of the camps worked well. The boys were really challenged when doing the Black Eagle hiking trail as well as on the rock climbs!

We really appreciated your hospitality and will defiantly be back again!



New Mountain Bike trails

Thabaphaswa is privileged to have had nationally known Mountain Bike Trail designer, Tim Fair, design our new mountain bike trails.

Tim spent a week at Thabaphaswa and designed four routes for us. The routes are known as Thabaphaswa Loop, Witvinger Loop, Aloe Loop and Lookout Loop.

Mountain Biking at Thabaphaswa

If you are not Sotho, “Thabaphaswa” may be something of a tongue twister: Thaba means mountain, Phaswa refers to Nguni cattle.

Put them together and visit the place and you will see why the shadows and highlights on the rocks of the mountains are reminiscent of markings on the farm’s rare Nguni cattle. Thabaphaswa Mountain is an important landmark to all the peoples of this area, and for centuries travellers and traders have used it to get their bearings.

Thanks to the geology, Thabaphaswa has very scenic and some rather challenging mountain bike trails on dirt tracks, cattle paths and single-track. The riding is basically along a core circuit route with optional diversions off the beaten track. Enjoy exciting single and jeep track up challenging kloofs and through gaps between the granite outcrops that cover the farm. The main route is about 7km in length and perfect for enjoying a mellow, late afternoon ride with the family. Although it is not a technical ride, there is enough sand, gravel and rocks to make it the ideal route to introduce casual cyclists to off-road riding.

Since the farm is fully fenced you cannot get completely lost and the map provided gives ample directions and indicators of where to go and where to turn back home. In addition, all 95km of hiking and biking trails are beautifully signposted. None of the wild game that you may encounter here was introduced. In line with the commitment to a genuine ecotourism experience, what you see is what has always been here.

Fast Facts:
  • Explore 3000ha with jeep tracks, single track and cattle and game paths
  • Service road along the railway to the North - 100km or more
  • Plenty of district dirt roads
  • Almost no thorns and punctures are rare.
  • GRADING: Easy to difficult, depending on the route and distance chosen
  • KIDS: Yes, but choose your trails accordingly
  • CONFIGURATION: Various options, 7 to 95km
  • TRAIL HEAD: Thabaphaswa homestead
  • FACILITIES: Self-catering accommodation, ablutions; no cell phone reception
  • WHEN: Winters are mild. You can sit around the fire in the evenings and nice and warm during the day. Summers are mild - 5 degrees less than Mokopane and the same as Polokwane.
  • SECURITY: No main roads, urban areas and townships. It is completely safe.

Thabaphaswa Mountain Bike Networks

The first network offers routes on Thabaphaswa and an adjoining farm consisting of trail networks over a distance of 20km . The area is surrounded by mountains and high ridges with great views over the Pietersburg plains and the valleys to the south and east.

  • Rating: Riding enjoyment. Unique combination of nature, scenery and good exercise.
  • Grading: Jeeptracks, single tracks and regional dirt roads.
  • Distance: 7km to 20km.
  • Duration: 1 to 4 hours.
  • Access: N1 and provincial roads, ± 5 km gravel road
  • Configuration: Network of 4 trails on nearby farms and in a large surrounding area.
  • Terrain: Granite mountains with some reasonably steep climbs.
  • Marking: Sign posts and markings on rocks.
  • Security: Farm area not near main roads and urban areas.
  • Maps are available for trails on the nearby farm as well for those in the surrounding areas.
  • Starting point: 29° 02´ 34" E and 24°03´ 22" S.
The second network area falls outside the farm and consists of rural dirt roads forming a circular route to the Ga-Mashashane rural town and the Percy Fyfe Game Reserve. The area is exceptional in terms of lovely mountain formations, bushveld trees, game farms and scenery.

Many alternative routes can be chosen and more than 200km can be ridden. The jeeptrack or service road along the railway line can even be followed up to Musina - more than 250 km away.

Thabaphaswa Trails

Check out our most recent mountain bike trails created by Tim Fair. We think they are the best mountain bike routes, not only in Mokopane, but North of Bela Bela:

The Thabaphaswa trail network consists of 4 loops creating the backbone to the greater riding area. The 4 loops range in distance (7km -15km) and difficulty (Easy – Advanced) and can be merged together to form a 20km route.

The Thabaphaswa trail network is comprised of the following trails:

Thabaphaswa Loop (click to view)

Distance 7km | Ascent 154m

Starting at the heart of the Thabaphaswa Mountain Sanctuary, the Thabaphaswa loop is the backbone to the main trail network. At only 7km it is ideal for all levels of fitness and skill and can be enjoyed by the whole family. The route is characterised by gentle contour roads and beautiful dams named after the children of the family.

Sign posted with red arrows and with a T for Thabaphaswa Loop.

Thabaphaswa MTB Ride

Witvinger Loop (click to view)

Distance 13km | Ascent 410m

The Witvinger loop takes riders deep into the Witvinger Reserve, though a beautiful valley below the Thabaphaswa Mountain. A gentle stream flows through the valley and the route crosses this stream several times. During the rainy season, this section of the route becomes even more exciting.

Aloe Loop (click to view)

Distance 11km | Ascent 280m

The Aloe loop is for the more advanced rider.

The route follows the easy contours of the Thabaphaswa Loop for a few kilometres before kicking upwards to the the North East. The climb takes you halfway to the lookout point before turning right and sneaking back down through a lush valley. The final descent back onto the Thabaphaswa Trail is characterised by a rough and technical section to test your skills to their limit.

Sign posted with red arrows and with an A for Aloe Loop.

Lookout Loop (click to view)

Distance 15.6km | Ascent 560m

For the tough...the Lookout Loop is the same as the Aloe Loop, but instead of turning off halfway up the climb, you continue all the way to the Lookout Point.

The views from the top make the climb all worth while and you will be rewarded with a vista of the whole Sanctuary as well as a view all the way up the Witvinger Valley. From  this vantage point you will also look out onto the Thabaphaswa Mountain on the opposite side of the valley, it is only from here that you truly appreciate its size and magnificence.

The descent back down is another reward for all your hard work to get to the top. You can really let the brakes go as you fly down the fast, flowing jeep tracks.

Sign posted with red arrows and with an L for Lookout Loop.

Want more?

Lookout Point Ride"

Lunsklip Loop Ride
As mentioned above, these 4 loops form a backbone from which to base your longer rides.
For a more challenging 40km return ride, use the railway servitude road from Thabaphaswa to the Percy Fyfe entrance gate. Add another 20km if you include the Thabaphaswa trails. In addition a further distance can be added on surrounding district roads through beautiful hilly country.
Cycle grids for mountain bikers
Image gallery
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Tel: 015 491 4882
Cellphone/WhatsApp: 082 389 6631
Fax: 086 614 1977


Farm Groenkom, Mokopane


GPS: S24 04.500, E29 04.013