Wolkberg Wilderness Area is in the Limpopo province of South Africa. It is approximately 14 km south-east of Haenertsburg and 60 km east of Polokwane. The 2127-m-high Wolkberg (English: Cloud mountain) and the surrounding 22,000-ha was proclaimed a Wilderness Area in 1977. The office, parking and camping site are at the Klipdraai forest station. The park is traversed by the Mohlapitse River.
The Mohlapitse river enters the north west corner of the park, flows south for about 10 km and then turns east for about 12 km.
Information and maps
- +27 72 779 1676 (mobile number of the man in charge of the wilderness area)
- +27 15 276 1303 (land line number to the office at Wolkberg - usually no one answers so try the mobile)
The South African government prints 1:50000 maps and 1:10000 b/w aerial photographs of the area. Contact the Chief Directorate Surveys and Maps (CDSM) [dead link] at +27 21 658-4301, +27 21 689 1351, or +27 21 686 9884. The 1:50000 map for Wolkberg has number 2430AA Serala.
Flora and fauna
To get to Klipdraai (which is where the campsite, staff quarters and the office are located), from Polokwane follow the R71 towards Tzaneen for about 40 km (this road is tarred). Approximately 2 km after the Moira church there is a sign to the left for Wolkberg (23°50′34.97″S, 29°48′45.79″E). The road is not tarred. Follow this road for a further 40 km to reach the entrance. Along the way are signs to the Serala State Forest (possibly the old name of the wilderness area). About 300 metres before the office, the road forks. Take the left fork. At the fork there is an old sign with the words Serala State Forest.
The 40 km untarred road can be done in a 4x2wd vehicle (normal passenger car).
South East Entrance
Starting from the Orrie Baragwanath Pass at 24°06′21.91″S 30°07′13.77″E, a 4wd jeep track leads from the south east corner of the park, west along the Mohlapitse river for about 12 km before heading up north for about 13 km to the office at Klipdraai. The east-west section of the track crosses the river numerous times. Many of the drifts and small bridges have been washed away but can be negotiated in a good 4wd vehicle. The north section up to Klipdraai is steep and crosses smaller streams.
There could be a road from Haenertsburg into the park. From Google Earth: leave the R528 at 23°58′54.11″S 29°59′16.48″E (the author has never been on this road). Follow the untarred road to 24°00′58.18″S 30°01′43.40″E (where there is a group of abandoned buildings). Here the road forks. East, the road leads up to the Mountain Club Hut at 24°00′09.05″S 30°03′52.29″E (4wd required, road is fairly steep). In a south-westerly direction the road goes to the office at Klipdraai (road crosses Mohlapitse river).
Fees and permits
Hiking is allowed anywhere in the wilderness area. There are some jeep tracks and paths. Around the Serala peak there are quite a few paths. The area south of the Wonderwoud is less visited. The bush tends to be rather dense which makes it difficult to get up to the plateaus, so below are some rough indications of trails that are easy to follow. The coordinates are from Google Earth.
Southern East-West Jeep Track
Jeep track along the southern section of the river. The track is parallel with the river in an east-west direction.
Path to Southern Plateau
At 24°05′41.07″S 30°04′00.72″E, a valley leads from the jeep track up to the southern plateau. A small stream flows in the center of the valley. The stream flows into the Mohlapitse river.
A good place to enter the valley (to avoid the dense bush) is the point where the stream meets the jeep track. Near the jeep track the stream becomes wider and it is difficult to pin point an exact location. The area where the stream crosses the jeep track is muddy. One should try to enter the valley on the eastern side (of the valley-opening at the jeep track, just before the stream).
For the first 500 m the path stays close to the stream. Initially the path goes up on the western side, then crosses east and finally crosses west again to a clearing. The clearing provides plenty of camping space. This is also the last point before the plateau to get water. From here the path follows the dry river bed of the stream for about 1.1 km. At this point the path leaves the stream on the western side and moves up a grassy slope in a north-westerly direction to the top of the plateau. The slope is covered in long grass and trees but there is no thick bush.
Near the jeep track the stream contains water, however after about half a kilometre the stream is dry. The nearest stream is on the plateau (about 4 km).
Klipdraai to Waterfall at Ceylon
Two waterfalls at about 24°03′54.10″S 30°01′36.75″E.
Lots of space to camp at river.
Jeep track leading from Klipdraai to waterfall.
Path leading north from waterfall along river.
Faint path leading up to the Ceylon ridges at 24°03′37.46″S 30°02′06.29″E. Walking east along the ridges leads to the southern plateau.
Waterfall at Ceylon to Y
Y is located at 24°04′08.89″S 30°02′49.58″E, at the western edge of the southern plateau.
From the waterfall to Y, one follows the river. Frequent river crossings. A faint path is visible.
At Y a small stream coming from the north, flows into the Mohlapitse river.
Y to Southern Plateau
From Y it is possible to get to the top of the southern plateau (at about 24°04′09.28″S 30°03′02.64″E). Walking along the ridges leads to the southern plateau. This section explains one possible way to the top of the ridges. This is not the only path up, it is not necessarily the best and it is not the safest.
When walking to Y from the waterfall, you can see the top of the southern ridges. Aim for about 24°04′09.28″S 30°03′02.64″E. Once at Y, in theory it is possible to beat a direct path to the top. Through the thick bush, this is fairly exhausting. Alternatively, walk north up the small stream for between 100m and 200m. This involves boulder hopping and ducking branches and vines. Then head directly up the mountain slope in a easterly direction to just below the cliffs. Initially the bush is thick. A little further up, the slopes are steep but covered by grass and trees. Once at the cliffs move south along the cliffs (the path south along the cliffs is steep and the ground is lose) till an opening leads to the top of the ridges.
There is no water for 1.5 km from the small stream till the stream flowing down the top of the southern plateau.
Y to Corner
Not sure if it is possible to walk from Y to Corner. Perhaps lots of walking in river. In summer river could be too deep.
Klipdraai to Corner
Corner at 24°05′26.74″S 30°02′42.10″E.
Plenty of camping space.
Jeep track from Klipdraai to corner.
Jeep track from corner to south-east entrance of park.
Klipdraai to X
The quickest way from Klipdraai down to the river.
X is located at 24°02′21.45″S 30°01′52.10″E.
From X easy to follow path to mountain club hut.
From X to easy to follow path to Wonderwoud.
There is no accommodation at Klipdraai.
- Camping site
- Toilets and showers (in theory with hot water)
- Soccer field
- Hiking (overnight hiking)
- 4wd trail (not sure if this is allowed)