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Mariepskop Nature Reserve

Mariepskop Nature Reserve

Mariepskop Nature Reserve


Mariepskop Nature Reserve is situated at the junction of three conservation areas. The Mariepskop Forest Reserve, Mariepskop State Forest, and the Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve. The mountain is 1947 meters above sea level and is bordered by sheer cliff faces on several sides. The cliffs are composed of Proterozoic sedimentary rocks of the Transvaal Supergroup.

Mariepskop (also known as Marepe or Maripekop), is one of the highest peaks in the northern Drakensberg mountains and the highest point of the Blyde River Canyon, South Africa. The mountain is named after 19th-century Pulana chief, Maripe Mashile whose tribe used the mountain as a stronghold.

Mariepskop Radar Station

A radar station was built in the 1950s to service the military radar station. The radar station is still operational however most of the original buildings are unused and replaced by modern radar equipment. For information on the history of the radar station, click here

The road to Mariepskop viewing point

Mariepskop Road

The road to the top of Mariepskop is a gravel road and is best done in a 4×4 vehicle. It is not advisable to drive the road during the rainy season or if the road is wet.  The last 7 km of the road is a concrete road that has a steep gradient of 33% in places. The concrete road, however, is completely safe to drive as there are no sheer drop-offs. Once you have reached the top, the road levels off, and you turn left to the viewing site a further 3 km on a narrow concrete road. The views from the top are spectacular with views of Kampersrus and Hoedspruit below.

The road to the radar station has views over the Kruger National Park. The drop-off is over 1400m so you can almost see forever.

What is the cost of going to Mariepskop?

Mariepskop is in Mariepskop Nature Reserve and there is an entrance fee of R25 per person. This is payable at the gate about 8 km from the summit of the mountain.

Where is the Mariepskop Forest Reserve?

The beautiful Mariepskop Forest Reserve is situated on the slopes and summit of the highest peak of the northern Drakensberg Mountain range. The mountain is 1,947 meters above sea level in the Mpumalanga Province South Africa, 30 km southwest of the town of Hoedspruit.

How high above sea level is Mariepskop?

Mariepskop Mountain

You can ascend to the top by road, where at 1,947m above sea level, you can see the Indian Ocean and Maputo on a clear day. Mariepskop is the highest peak in the northern Drakensberg Mountain Escarpment.

What type of rock is Mariepskop?

Mariepskop is flanked by Tshwateng (1,628 m) on the opposite side of the Blyde River, and by Hebronberg (1,767 m) in the south. The mountain is composed of Proterozoic sedimentary rocks, namely quartzite, shale, and dolomite of the Transvaal Supergroup.

Mariepskop Nature Reserve Mammals

Small mammals include the Brants climbing mouse, the four-striped grass mouse, and the arboreal woodland thicket rat. Amphibians include Gray’s stream frogAngola river frog, and Natal ghost frogs. The latter species has a limited and declining range in South Africa and requires clear and cold, swiftly flowing streams, fringed by dense vegetation The Mariepskop flat gecko was discovered on the mountain in 1982. The Blyde River and Abel Erasmus flat geckos are related species that occur on isolated massifs very nearby.

Mariepskop Nature Reserve Flora

Mariepskop Flowers

The Mariepskop-Magalieskop complex is separated from the rest of the Drakensberg by the Blyde River and its canyon, and by a tributary of the Klaserie River. These two valleys are seen as floral migration routes between the mountain and the Lowveld. By 1969 some 1,600 ha of Mariepskop Forest Reserve was allocated to timber plantations, while some 3,000 ha was covered by indigenous forest.

Several distinguishable plant communities have been described. The foothills are covered in low-altitude woodlands, which are distinguished as Lowveld gallery forest, savanna on mountain slopes, savanna on rocky terrain, and submontane forest. In the mountain’s higher reaches the high mountain grassland is locally replaced by a type of fynbos vegetation. The higher elevations are home to the mountain plateau, Widdringtonia, and montane forest plant communities.

The subpopulation of the Kaapsehoop cycad which once occurred on the rocky slopes of Mariepskop is virtually extinct due to human factors, and the Fusarium fungus attacks their cones. The mountain is also home to Tulbaghia coddii, a range-restricted species, which has lost much of its habitat to the timber industry.

Mariepskop Accommodation

There are two self-catering chalets in the Mariepskop Nature Reserve situated at the security gate about 10km from the top of the mountain. The cost is R495 per chalet and can be booked directly on 015 793 2581 or contact Adam on 072 876 7186.

For more information about Mariepskop, click here

For other accommodation options in the Hoedspruit area, click here

 Mariepskop Nature Reserve with views forever


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