Hiking, Trails and Routes

ID #4659

Elandshoogte, Machadodorp, Escarpment, Mpumalanga.

Feel on top of the world. Sappi’s Elandshoogte tree farm covers 10000-Ha, nearly 2000 of which is managed for conservation. Several facilities have been developed to lure outdoor enthusiasts to this undiscovered mountain retreat. Two accredited hiking trails, furnished overnight accommodation and several interesting historical and geological features. Fishing and birding as well as unique flora and fauna.

o    Hiking Trails: Two trails (Loopfontein and Ezinkungwini “Place of the Mist”) have been developed. They criss-cross riverine forest with majestic trees, highland shrubland, sandstone formations and windswept mountaintops where you can hear the silence.  Both are 16-km circular routes, which start at the Loopfontein Hiking House. Loopfontein has a natural to pristine grading. It is moderate to difficult and takes the average hiker 5-6 hours to complete. Ezingkungwini traverses the more rural and natural areas of Elandshoogte. It is less strenuous than Loopfontein and is graded as moderately difficult. It takes the average hiker 4-5 hours to complete.
o    Mountain Biking (cycling): Three trails have been developed. The Forest Flyers Mountain Bike Hut with overnight facilities is available to cyclists. It has running water, electricity, toilets, eight beds and a braai area with firewood provided. The Sappi Mountain Bike Challenge is an annual event held at the end of May. There are 10, 65 and 45-km routes, which cater for both social and serious enthusiasts. The routes are scenic and take riders past a waterfall with breathtaking views over the Elands River Valley.
o    Camping: Secluded well-grassed camp amongst majestic pines overlooking a dam. No electricity but a “donkey” provides hot water for showers.  Braai area with firewood. Spend daylight hours trout fishing, birding and hiking to the nearby waterfall.
o    Picnicing: Several sites have been opened.
o    Fishing: Two dams near the campsite are stocked with trout. There are no rod fees. Test your skills on the “top of the world”.
o    Accommodation: Two furnished houses are available at the start/finish of the Hiking Trails. They are fully equipped, with electricity, hot water, fridge, stove and fireplace. Bring your own bedding, cooking and eating utensils. Both the Hiking Houses and the Mountain Bike Hut are in close proximity and can jointly accommodate 30. Ideal for school or church groups and corporate team building.

Close to the Sudwala Caves and Dinosaur Park, and the old mining town of Kaapsehoop. See the Lowveld Botanical Gardens and the Crocriver Eco-park as well as shopping malls, cinemas and a casino in Nelspruit, 80-km east of Elandshoogte. The Kruger National Park is east of Nelspruit.  The picturesque towns of Sabie, Pilgrim’s Rest, Graskop and Long Tom Pass are less than 100-km away. Other interesting things to see include:

•    Natural Features: Four waterfalls The Loopfontein trail boasts some impressive rock sculptures at the Elandshoogte Rock Gardens.
•    Vegetation: Taljaardsvlei, best viewed from the hiking trails, is an unspoilt gem.  23 ground orchid species have been discovered in this small area.  They bloom in February and March. There are proteas, ericas, typical escarpment fynbos and the occasional tree fern.
•    Fauna and Flora:  Elandshoogte is home to a number of mammal and grassland birds. Smaller buck such as oribi, red and grey duiker, grey rheebok and bushbuck are often seen. African wild cat, civet, caracal, bat-eared fox and side-striped jackal prey on rock rabbits and scrub hares.  You might even see jackal and brown hyena (hyaena). About 200 bird species have been spotted, including crowned eagles, fish eagles, black shouldered kites, purple-crested loeries and malachite kingfisher.  Several snake, skink, lizard and tortoise species and even the helmeted terrapin inhabit the area.
•    History: Elandshoogte was home to Stone Age tribes. One of the last battles of the Anglo-Boer War -- the Battle of Helvetia – took place here. The graves of a number of British soldiers are located at Helvetia. The original homestead of the Coetzee family, one of the first families to farm in the area, was built in 1850 on the farm Houtboschfontein at Elandshoogte. There are also a number of agricultural relics on the hiking trails such as a sandstone barn and implements from the late 19th century.

Machadodorp is on the N4 east of Middelburg, which is at the intersection of the N4 with the N11. Travel east on the N4 towards Nelspruit.  Turn left onto the R36 at the Total Garage east of Machadodorp towards Lydenburg and the Schoemanskloof.  The turnoff to Elandshoogte is on the right, several km from the turnoff. AYEland

Contct:            Andrea
Sappi Public Affairs
+27 (13) 752 4281 telephone
+27 (82) 921 8708 cell

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Last update: 2009-07-13 18:44
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.1

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