To local people, it was a sacred ground; to the Voortrekkers, a landmark spot where they rested for a short while before continuing on their journey from Pretoria
Fortune-hunters dreamed that the Kruger millions would turn up here but they found only the Stone Age tools of the prehistoric hunters who ambushed their prey in the poort (entrance) nearby.
It has been an excavation site where archaeologists have exposed the largest single accumulation of stone artefacts ever to be discovered in Africa.
But what was it that brought all these people to this plain on the northern outskirts of Pretoria? It is a tree unlike any other - a wild fig known all over the world as the Wonderboom (literally, miracle tree).
A 5,5 m diameter trunk at the heart of the Wonderboom is the remains of the original wild fig that began growing here over than 1 000 years ago. Branches of this trunk first spread out radially but gradually drooped towards the ground, where they sent out roots from which sprang a circle of new trunks.
In time, two of the offspring produced a third generation. Today the Wonderboom has 13 distinct trunks that cover an area of 1,5 ha. The branches spread over an area of 50 m, and can provide enough shade for over 1 000 people. A typical example of the species Ficus salicifolia? Not so, say the experts.
The wild fig is a hardy tree flourishing in open woodlands, on rocky hills and outcrops, and near streams and rivers. The bark of the young trees is smooth and a pale grey, while the bark of older trees is rougher and darker. The leaves are thick and leathery, and the tiny white fruits, only about 5 mm in diameter, become a yellowish-pink colour when they ripen between August and May.
But while the Ficus salicifolia seldom grows higher than 9 m, the Wonderboom stands taller 23m. In addition to its great height, the way in which it has extended itself makes it an extremely rare natural phenomenon whose protection against the ravages of man is of great importance.
The tree was probably the safest during the period when only local people knew of its existence. They were animists, adherents to a primitive world view that attached spiritual significance to natural objects and phenomena.
Because the tree was so very unusual, they considered it sacred and allowed it to flourish without bothering it.
The tree was discovered in 1836 by the Voortrekkers, under Hendrik Potgieter, who named it the Wonderboom. After Potgieter, several other groups of Voortrekkers stopped at this tree, and the site continues to have a special significance for South Africans who identify with Voortrekker history. Parks & Gardens
Other Pretoria Parks & Gardens
provide an excellent opportunity to enjoy nature.Where to StayAccommodation in Greater Tswane-Pretoria Area
are found in the cities of:
with suburbs such as Arcadia
and Silver Lakes
with suburbs such as Centurion Central
Wonderboom Nature Reserve Activities:
The reserve has picnic facilities.
The reserve is home for several small antelope species as well as monkeys, dassies and a large variety of birds.
Besides small game and the Wonderboom itself, the reserve also protects several historical sites, some recent, some ancient.
Wonderboom Nature Reserve Map:
Drive northwards on Paul Kruger Street (R101) and Mansefield Avenue for about 6 to 7km from the city centre.
Immediately after the road goes through the gap in the Magaliesberg range turn right onto the M1 and cross the Apies River.
The entrance is on the right about 300 metres from the R101.
Gate: 012 543 0918
Office: 012 567 4296
Gate times: 07:00 to 18:00 (entrance to the reserve only until 16:00)