It is with bitter-sweet memories that I blog about the Wonderboom Nature Reserve which is part of the Magaliesburg Mountains situated in the North of Pretoria. Make no mistake, the memories are mostly sweet.

I have been here several times and had a couple of weird and wonderful experiences, which include the usual missing the colored dots on the marked trail and getting lost in dangerously steep mountain terrain. 

I can't figure out if the hiking trail is marked for "expert" mountain climbers (and not the layman) or if we just keep missing it out of sheer exhaustion and excitement. As you start off it is clearly marked, but then once you get to the mid-way mark, that's when the "vanishing markers" emerge, or rather don't emerge for some time.

Even in my primary school days - more than 20 years ago (you can do the maths, lol) - I recall this being an exciting extra mural school trip venue. Back then, we came to clean up, especially by the banks of the Apies River below.

In recent years, I love to come here and even with getting lost to the extent that I want to cry and start looking for possible overnight shelter (just in case I get so lost in the trees and rocks to the extent that I have to spend a night out in the wild). Yet, I keep coming back time and time again.

My two main attractions - that you need to climb to see - have to be the artificial waterfall "cave" and the ruins of the Wonderboom Fort. The fort is believed to be one of four forts built by the former Zuid-Afrikaansche Republiek at the end of the 19th century to defend Pretoria against the British forces.

During my last climb, I came across an indigenous religious group dressed in white clothes assembled on the mountain. I was also pleasantly surprised to see wild animals such as buck and other animals roaming around at the top. The view of the city from the peak is breathtaking and makes it all worth it.

If you are not as amped about climbing, you can stay at the foot of the mountain for a braai (there are a lot of braai areas) and the children can play in the play area. Nature and relaxing ambiance is just as great.

I feel obliged to caution you about the "safety" of this place. While I have personally never had a crime incident during my visits, there are general concerns of the safety of visitors when climbing the mountain. It is pretty isolated at the top. I personally don't recall seeing uniformed security personnel along the hiking trail. 

Even when I injured my ankle by stepping on falling rocks, the ladies I came with on that particular day did not feel comfortable going down alone to get help or leaving me on my own. So they lovingly "carried" me down the mountain (the things family does for love is overwhelming). 

So if you can, bring lots of water, your own first aid kit, a hat/cap and a loud whistle to signal to others in case of emergency. Last, but not least, try by all means to stay on the "mystically marked" trail for as long as you can.

Phindiwe Nkosi at the fort on top of the hill at Wonderboom Nature ReservePhindiwe Nkosi at the fort on top of the hill at Wonderboom Nature Reserve

Phindiwe Nkosi at the Wonderboom Nature Reserve in PretoriaPhindiwe Nkosi at the Wonderboom Nature Reserve in Pretoria

Phindiwe Nkosi at the top of the hill at Wonderboom Nature Reserve, PretoriaPhindiwe Nkosi at the top of the hill at Wonderboom Nature Reserve, Pretoria