Parys, Free State
Offering beautiful views of the Vredefort Dome from high ridges, the trails, situated in the south western part of the Dome, lead the visitor to a variety of secluded and untouched areas which are equally interesting from the historical, geological and natural perspectives. The highest point in the southern Dome lies on the route, as well as a long stretch of forest on the Vaal river bank. In between, rock paintings and remnants from the Boer War and the gold mining may be seen. The trails traverse a variety of habitats ranging from bushveld through forest to high rocky ridges, where naturally occurring game, birds and indigenous plants are an attraction. Three overnight camps provide accommodation. From each camp, circular day trails are possible.
The Meteorite Hiking Trails offer many scenic routes through this newest Natural World Heritage site of South Africa, which is the oldest and largest meteorite impact site in the world. The landscape is dominated by the high concentric ridges covered largely with naturally occurring bushveld vegetation. The area is very rich in plant and animal life, due to the diversity of biotopes concentrated in a relatively small area. One may see blesbok, duiker, black wildebeest, red hartebeest, kudu, warthog, jackal, caracal and brown hyena.
Many bird species occur, from fish eagles and the heron family at the river to the ubiquitous guinea fowl and corn birds. More than 50 tree species may be seen, such as jacket plum, sweet thorn, cabbage tree and wild olive. This landscape of this important geological site came into being about 2020 million years ago when an enormously large body of rock, an asteroid of about 10 km in diameter, struck the earth where the town of Vredefort lies today. During the ensuing time, much of the upper strata has been removed by erosion.
The characteristic circular structure of the Dome originated from the once horizontal rock layers that have been turned through more than 90 degrees by the impact, the harder strata forming the ridges, while the softer material was eroded to form the valleys in between. The area has long been an important study field for geologist all over the world and is currently attracting much attention from scholars in all fields.
This is a summer rainfall area. Days may become hot in summer, and in winter the nights may be cold, with frost. . Mosquitos are rarely a nuisance, monkeys may steal when offered a chance, and there are no dangerous wild animals.
A network of around 60 km of trails offers many options, from circular day trails ranging from 3 to 15km, to various configurations of overnight backpacker routes between the base camps. The basic layout is in the form of a figure of eight, with Deelfontein in the centre, Thwane at the top, and Baskop at the bottom. The Deelfontein/Thwane loop is approximately 12km in length, the two legs of the Deelfontein/Baskop loop are around 15km each, so that this loop totals 30km and is not viable as day hike. The terrain is mountainous and rocky, and the trails are moderately strenuous.
Overnight Backing Options:
- Start at Thwane, hike to Deelfontein (8km), sleep at Deelfontein. Hike to Baskop via Witklipfontein (15km), sleep at Baskop. Hike back to Thwane via Deelfontein (17km).
- Start at Deelfontein, do the Thwane loop (12km), sleep at Deelfontein. Hike to Baskop via Witklipfontein (15km), sleep at Baskop. Hike back to Deelfontein (15km).
- Start at Deelfontein, hike to Thwane (8km), sleep at Thwane. Hike to Baskop via Deelfontein (17km), sleep at Baskop. Hike back to Deelfontein (15km).
- Start at Baskop, hike to Deelfontein using either leg (14/15km). Sleep at Deelfontein. Hike to Thwane using either leg (4/8km). Sleep at Thwane and hike back to Deelfontein, or finish the hike.
- Start at Baskop, hike to Deelfontein and back, sleeping at Deelfontein. Total 30km.
- There are more options, using the other trails between Deelfontein and the other camps. Please enquire.
Day Hike Options
Day Hikes From Thwane
- Deelfontein loop (12km). Hike to Deelfontein and back.
- Thwane loop (10km), a shortened version of the Deelfontein loop.
- Northern Thwane loop (8km). Hike to Dwarsberg and back.
- Southern Thwane loop (4km). Hike along the Thwane plain.
Day Hikes From Deelfontein
- Thwane loop (12km). Hike to Thwane and back.
- Shorter Thwane loop (6km). Take the shortcut just inside Thwane.
- Mooihoek loop (15km). Hike to Mooihoek and back.
- Nauwpoort loop (12km). Hike to Nauwpoort (bushman painting) and back.
- Two ridges route (7km). Hike along the two mountain ridges on Deelfontein.
- Deelfontein valley route (5km). Hike the southern route and return in the valley.
- Summit trail (3km). Hike along the northern ridge.
Day Hikes From Baskop
- Baskop circular trail (8km). A route around Baskop and its sister peak.
- Shorter Baskop circular trail (4km). A shortened version, circling only Baskop.
Deelfontein Hikers Camp (R180.00 pp.pd)
The facilities at Deelfontein bush camp consist of three thatched huts with five rooms in total. Each hut has its own bathroom. Toilets are provided in a separate building. Electric lighting is supplied by a solar powered battery. No mains electricity. Cooking, grilling and dining in a lapa equipped with a gas stove, or a boma with central fireplace. Cutlery and crockery supplied. Hot water supplied by two donkeys. The camp has a swimming pool for cooling down in summer. Sleeping: 16 Beds with mattresses but without bedding and pillows. Washing: Bathrooms have running potable water, washing basins, showers, toilets. Please supply own towel, soap and toilet paper. Cooking: Fireplace for grilling, stove, sink, pots and pans, table and seating, cutlery and crockery. Please supply all other equipment such as matches and dishwashing liquid. Firewood is supplied.
The Deelfontein Guest Houses and rondavel, sleeping 29 persons in total, are available at R280 pp.pd linen included.
Baskop Bush Camp – (R180.00 pp.pd)
The facilities at Baskop Bush Camp consist of a large old farm house on the river bank, with mains electricity, stove and fridge. There are two bathrooms with bathtubs and showers. Facilities for grilling on the lawn or indoors.
Sleeping: 16 beds with mattresses but without bedding and pillows. Washing: Bathrooms with running potable water, washing basins, showers or bathtubs, toilets. Please supply own towel, soap and toilet paper.
Additional house available, sleeping 10 people. Electricity, beds &, mattresses
Cooking: Fireplace for grilling, stove, sink, pots and pans, table and seating. Please supply all other equipment such as cutlery, crockery, matches and dishwashing liquid. Firewood is supplied.
Baskop Family Unit – R180.00 pp.pd own linen / R250.00 pp.pd linen included
- 2 double beds and 5 single beds
- Well-appointed self-catering house
- Situated 800 m from the river with view over the farm and mountains
Thwane Bush Camp – (R180.00 pppd)
The facilities at Thwane consist of a bush camp with three permanent tents with a separate ablution block and lapa, with a fireplace for grilling. The swimming pool is available for use by hikers.
Sleeping: 16 beds with mattresses but without bedding and pillows. Washing: Bathrooms with running potable water, washing basins, showers, toilets. Please supply own towel, soap and toilet paper.
Cooking: The lapa is equipped with gas stove, sink, pots and pans, tables and chairs, cutlery, glasses and electric fridge/freezer.
Accommodation in the luxury safari-style tents with en-suite bathrooms of the Thwane Bush Camp is available, with bedding included. Please enquire when booking. Catering available on request for groups of 10 or more people.
- R180.00 pp.pn
- Children u/12 R145.00 pp.pn
- R100.00 pp – Day Visitors
- R50.00 pp – u/12
- Admin fee:
- R55.00 once off per reservation