“Watch out for that friendly leopard” Deo joked as I opened the gate in the dark. After all, the sign on the farm gate proclaims that this is a leopard friendly farm. It was already pitch-black outside when we stopped at the farm near Mokopane after a Friday after-work drive from Pretoria. 

Thabaphaswa Mountain Sanctuary has been around for a long time as a popular below-radar destination among hikers and rock climbers. With several hiking and mountain bike trails, 4×4 adventures, and even unique architecture awaiting you at Thabaphaswa, this is the perfect destination for a quick weekend adventure. We decided to explore and find out first-hand what wonders are hidden among the hills and mountains of the black and white bull, as it is known among the locals.

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Gemsbok / Kgalagadi

The farm offers several accommodation options, with quirky self-catering units and numerous camping sites. As a bonus, you can even take your four-legged friend with you as the farm is pet-friendly! Each campsite is equipped with a boma and scullery, your own bush toilet (a regular toilet but with a fantastic bushveld view) and an amazing outdoor donkey shower which the friendly farm staff get going every morning and late afternoon for you. The campsites are not equipped with power points, but it gives you a chance to appreciate the starry sky without any disturbance. Nothing can compare to the call of a jackal echoing through the hills as you gaze upon the night sky coming alive.

Male lion / Kgalagadi
Agama / Kgalagadi
Jackal tracks / Kgalagadi

The hiking trails on the farm greet you with mountainous views, interesting plant life and surprising architecture (a great discovery for Simoné as architect). The quirky bush camps on the farm were designed by renowned architect Dr. Heinrich Kammeyer and echo a critical awareness of nature in their construction. The hiking trails are well maintained and each route is clearly marked – from the most experienced hikers to a first-time hiker will be able to find a trail that is right up their alley. Other activities on the farm include a large dam for the keen fisherman to make a cast or two (like Deo obviously did) or to relive your childhood days with an old school foefie-slide. If you aren’t into that kind of fun, you can end your afternoon with a 4X4 trail leading to the top of the mountain range and witness the hues of red and orange from the sunset sky in it.

Elephant / Mapungubwe

Amidst all the activities to do and the beautiful scenery of the area, one does not even realize that your cellphone has no signal. Seeing huge naboom trees and aloe-adorned mountains, relaxing next to the campfire with jackals calling from the hills and enjoying a glass of red wine with a panoramic sunset view – these are the things we will remember from Thabaphaswa Mountain Sanctuary. Bull mountain gives weekend warriors the perfect opportunity to forget about the hustle and bustle and connect with the wonder of nature.

Elephant / Mapungubwe