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Words: Sarah Marjoribanks | Images: Supplied and Shutterstock

Many municipal nature reserves and parks are still closed during level 3 of the lockdown, but there are a few private farms and reserves that have resumed operation. While there are certain restrictions in place for both staff and visitor safety, it’s quite wonderful to get outside and enjoy big open spaces again. We’ve chosen three different spots that are open for exercise, including options for hiking, mountain biking and running.

Taroko Trails at the Modderfontein Nature Reserve

The beautiful Modderfontein Nature Reserve on the East Rand preserves indigenous flora and fauna and is a fantastic green space for Joburgers to escape to, right here in the city. The 275ha private park contains a number of dams, grassland and hills, and is also home to Taroko Trails.

The freshly cut trails are ready to receive hikers, runners and cyclists. While the trails that are dedicated to runners and hikers aren’t open just yet as they’re still being cleared of overgrowth, there are plenty of other trails and jeep tracks to explore.

Safety precautions: Taroko Trails isn’t open for social or group activities, and everybody entering the premises will need to wear a mask or buff, comply with hand sanitation practices and maintain social distancing.

Good to know: The park will be open every day of the week for exercise, from 6am to 6pm, and there’s no need to book. Entrance fees are R50 per adult and R30 per child under 12 for cycling, and R30 for running, hiking or walking.

Hennops Trails

Head out to the mountains and enjoy one of the hiking trails on offer at Hennops Trails, just 30km from Fourways and Pretoria. The trails set off from the main camp, meander along the Hennops River and head off into the mountains. The Krokodilberg trail is 10km long and one should be reasonably fit to tackle it as the surface is uneven in certain sections and there are steep climbs. However, the Zebra, Dassie and River hikes are easy and manageable for all fitness levels.

Safety precautions: All visitors must adhere to level 3 restrictions and are not allowed to enter if they don’t have a mask. All of the Hennops Trail staff have masks, and hand and surface sanitisers are available at reception and the toilet facilities. All facilities are sanitised at regular intervals, but the picnic and pool areas remain closed. Guards are on patrol on the trails to ensure the safety of visitors.

Good to know: The property is open seven days a week and booking isn’t necessary. The entrance fee is R80 per adult and R40 per child.

Northern Farm

Mountain bikers are welcome to explore the 2,500ha Northern Farm Nature Reserve, also known as the Diepsloot Nature Reserve. The nonprofit park is run by volunteers, and while it feels a world away from the hubbub of the city, it’s just 10 minutes away from Fourways.

There are a number of cycling trails of varying lengths for different skill levels, each tackling a mix of terrain. However, no group rides are allowed at the moment due to level 3 restrictions. With grasslands and woodlands as well as several dams, the farm is also home to about 270 different bird species, so it’s naturally a popular spot with twitchers.

Safety precautions: Temperatures will be taken at the gate and visitors exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms will be turned away. No more than two people per vehicle are allowed entry and the clubhouse and braai facilities on the property remain closed. Masks are mandatory.

Good to know: Entry is only open to visitors who’ve booked and paid for their visit online, and limited numbers are allowed per three-hour slot. Northern Farm is open on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, from 7am to 5pm, and entry is R60 per person.

EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF

Hennops Trails
082 825 9205
hubert@hennops.co.za
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Modderfontein Taroko Trails
081 351 1223
info@tarokotrails.co.za

Northern Farm
083 879 4449
northernfarmmtb@gmail.com