Welcome to the #Gauteng52 challenge, for which I will visit and blog about a new place in Gauteng Province every week for 52 straight weeks. On Week 1, Ray and I went for a walk along the Hennops Hiking Trail.

Ray on the Hennops TrailSetting out on the trail.

I read about the Hennops trail, which is named for the Hennops River it crosses, on my friend Hitekani’s blog a couple of years ago. I’ve been meaning to do it ever since. (This is one of the great things about the #Gauteng52 challenge — it will motivate me to do lots of things I’ve been meaning to do.) I finally got around to it on the last day of 2016.

The Hennops Hiking Trail

The trail is on a private farm about 50 minutes north of my house in Melville, only 20 minutes from Joburg’s northern reaches of Fourways and Diepsloot. Even though it’s close to town, the Hennops farm is idyllic and made me feel like I was well away from the city. Admission to the hiking trails is R60 (about $5) and there are three routes to choose from: the Krokodilberg route is about 12 kilometers; the Zebra route is 6 kilometers, and the Dassie route is 2.5 kilometers.

We didn’t arrive until noon and it was already blazing hot, so Ray and I opted for the 6-kilometer route. Although not a serious hike, the Zebra route was enough to make us sweat and feel like we’d had a workout. There is one big uphill at the beginning and the rest is fairly easy. The route is well marked and no one else was on it. I guess all the other hikers took the longer or shorter routes.

The scenery along the six-kilometer trail is very pretty. We admired rolling green hills, interesting rocks, flowers, birds, and butterflies. We saw cows, horses, one donkey, and a couple of zebras. We also discovered a large cave, called the Dassie Cave (read more about dassies here), right along the river at the beginning of the trail.

Rolling green hills at HennopsThe green foothills of the Magaliesburg Mountains.

Rocky uphill on the Hennops trailRocks and greenery, which I admired while panting in the heat.

Cows at HennopsCows and egrets.

Ray with horsesRay approaches a band of horses, whose leader is a donkey.

Donkey on Hennops trailI have a thing for donkeys.

Flowers and butterfliesThis butterfly totally hooked me up by standing still for several seconds.

Ray in the Dassie Caves Ray in the Dassie Cave, which smells strongly of dassie poop. We didn’t see any dassies.

The hardest part of the hike was the river crossing at the beginning and end. The river must be crossed via a funny little cable car, which — although fairly easy to operate once we got the hang of it — was terrifying. (Further down the river there is a rope bridge, which is part of the 12-kilometer hike. I assume the rope bridge is less harrowing.)

Cable car over the HennopsA man rides the cable car over the Hennops River Dam. Momentum carries you to about the halfway point, then you use the rope to pull yourself the rest of the way across. If you’re lucky, there will be someone on the other side to help you get off. Note the raging white water below. This cable car is not for sissies.

Hennops RiverThe view from the cable car. I was stupid to have my camera out because I very nearly dropped it.

Women in the cable carThese women are doing a good job of looking not terrified. But really…how safe is that tiny safety chain?

The Americans among you are probably thinking the same thing I thought: The Hennops cable car is a lawsuit waiting to happen. But this is South Africa, where people are less litigious and more adventurous. Anyway, I’m happy to call myself a Hennops cable car survivor.

Side note: In October I received a pair of Hi-Tec “Tundra” day-hiking shoes to review, and this hike was my final test. I’ve worn the shoes on a variety of walking/hiking outings on Lion’s Head in Cape Town, in Magaliesburg, on the Melville Koppies, and now the Hennops Trail.

Hi-Tec shoesMy Hi-Tec Tundras.

I officially proclaim these shoes fantastic. They’re light, comfortable, sturdy, and cute, even on huge feet like mine. I’ll probably never wear my old heavy hiking boots again unless I decide to to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or something.

Thus ends my first #Gauteng52 post of the year. I’ve got lots of ideas lined up and I’m excited to write more. Seriously, I can barely wait for next week.

Heather on HennopsCan you see how excited I am? (Photo by Ray)

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts here. Also, please follow the hashtag on Instagram and Twitter and feel free to send suggestions for future posts.

My Hi-Tec shoes were given to me by Hi-Tec. Opinions expressed are mine.

Read all of my #Gauteng52 posts and check out the interactive #Gauteng52 map.

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