I last blogged about the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve, a huge Joburg City Park on the south side of the city, more than 11 years ago. I don’t normally like to blog about the same place twice but I think it’s time for a Klipriviersberg refresher. It’s a truly remarkable outdoor space and I suspect a significant percentage of Joburgers are unaware of this “Jewel of the South”, as the locals call it.

Cabbage trees growing at the top of a ridge in Klipriviersberg
Cabbage trees growing atop a ridge in Klipriviersberg.
A Klipriviersberg cross section, courtesy of @thethinking_hand.

Although Klipriviersberg falls under the jurisdiction of Joburg City Parks, a “park” is not the best way to describe this place. Klipriviersberg is a very large nature reserve (700 hectares in extent — don’t ask me what that means but I can assure you it’s big), with enough hiking trails to occupy the better part of a day. (See this trail map.) Klipriviersberg has diverse, indigenous plant life and serious wildlife (if you’re lucky enough to spot it): zebras, wildebeests, blesbok, dassies, and more than 200 species of birds. Klipriviersberg has widely varying terrain. It’s only 10 kilometers from downtown Joburg (a 20-minute drive from my house in Brixton) and five kilometers from Soweto.

Thorsten in Klipriviersberg
Thorsten hiking through an insanely green Klipriviersberg.

The reserve is extremely well maintained and admission is free. Basically, Klipriviersberg is a hiking- and nature-lover’s paradise in the middle of the city. I can’t believe I haven’t taken better advantage of it over the past decade, but I plan to change that in 2022.

Flower in Klipriviersberg
A flower I liked.

Visiting the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve

Thorsten and I have gone hiking in Klipriviersberg twice over the past several months. (The only other time I went was that first time way back in 2010 — I have no idea why it took me so long to return.) Here are some tips I’ve picked up during my two recent visits:

1) Klipriviersberg has two entrances: one in Kibler Park (the main entrance) and one in Mondeor. I’m not sure what the Mondeor entrance is like, but the Kibler Park entrance has a relatively small parking lot that fills up quickly on weekends. There is plenty of parking on the road outside the park though.

2) Speaking of crowds, Klipriviersberg gets very busy on weekends. You can get there early to beat the rush (the park is open from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year), but don’t be put off if you arrive and find lots of cars. The reserve is so big that the crowds don’t really matter once you’re inside. Thanks to its proximity to Soweto, Klipriviersberg seems to be really well used by the community and the clientele is super diverse.

Thorsten in Klipriviersberg
We hardly saw another soul when we visited this past Wednesday, but we got there really early and it was a weekday during Joburg’s quietest month of the year.

3) No pets, bicycles, or alcohol are allowed in Klipriviersberg. It’s more of a hiking/walking place than a picnicking place.

4) We wound up hiking about nine kilometers during both our visits, although we easily could have walked more or less as there are many trails of varying lengths. The trails are well marked and maintained. There’s a lot of climbing and descending on most of the trails so I recommend sturdy hiking shoes. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen.

Tree in Klipriviersberg
A tree I liked.

5) If you’re into birding, bring binoculars. We saw some really colorful birds, including several red bishops and white-fronted bee-eaters.

6) There are many great overlooks in Klipriviersberg, including a really nice view of the Joburg skyline. (We didn’t get to that overlook this time so I don’t have a photo.)

Overlook in Klipriviersberg
One of many beautiful overlooks in the reserve, relatively close to the Kibler Park entrance..
Sketch of the Klipriviersberg overlook
Thorsten’s sketch of the overlook.

7) There’s a nice little café at the Kibler Park gate, serving drinks, snacks, and toasted sandwiches with chips — highly recommended for a post-hike mini brunch.

8) Definitely take a look at the Klipriviersberg Nature Reserve Association website before you go. This non-profit works closely with Joburg City Parks to maintain the reserve and the website is really informative.

Klipriviersberg is such a great hiking alternative for city dwellers who don’t feel like hauling themselves all the way to the Magaliesberg or beyond. I also love that Klipriviersberg is public space (most of the popular hiking spots on the outskirts of Joburg are privately owned) and free. Please go enjoy it in 2022.

Heather in Klipriviersberg
Photo: Thorsten Deckler
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