Wonderboom Nature Reserve

Wonderboom Nature Reserve

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Situated in the northern part of the city, and straddling the Magaliesberg Mountains, is the Wonderboom Nature Reserve, a 200 hectare reserve famous for its magnificent specimen of the Wonderboom. The Wonder tree is a wild fig (Ficus salicifolia) that grows at the foot of the northern slope of the Magalies Mountain area.

The large Wonderboom fig tree at the Wonderboom Nature Reserve is more than 1 000 years old, and legend has it that it grew this big because the chief of an indigenous tribe lies buried beneath its roots. It is recorded that the tree was once big enough to shade 1 000 people at a time, or 22 ox-wagons with 20 oxen in front of each! Today, it is much smaller – probably because of the devastating fire in 1870 started by a hunting party or because of infestation by a parasite, which put it in quarantine for 20 years. Over the years the branches have grown longer, hanging lower and lower until they touched the ground, rooted and produced a circle of daughter trees. There are now three circles of daughter trees surrounding the original tree.

See this amazing tree, and take the interpretation trail from the new boardwalk in and around the tree.

Wonderboom Nature Reserve has a large number of Dassies (Rock Hyrax) living in caves overlooking the Apies River. They provide a food source for a breeding pair of Black Eagles that nest on a rocky ledge nearby and that can often be seen circling above the reserve.

At the top of the Wonderboom Hill are the ruins of the Wonderboom Fort, one of four forts built by the former Zuid-Afrikaanse Republiek at the end of the 19th century to defend the city against the British. It was never used. It was blown up, probably on the instructions of Prime Minister Jan Smuts himself, in the early days of World War 2, lest it be used by anti-government dissidents as a springboard for an attack on the state. At the foot of the hill near the Wonderboom is an important iron age site and nearby is one of the best stone age sites in the area.

There are facilities for picnicking in the reserve.

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