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.
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.
See more photos in the fauna and flora gallery
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.
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Farm Groenkom, Mokopane
GPS: S24 04.500, E29 04.013