Brushing up on history and details
The Tswaing Crater Reserve is a pretty cool heritage site. Approximately 220 000 years ago, a meteor collided with the earth, creating what we now know to be the Tswaing Crater. This impact crater is more or less 1,4 km in diameter and 200m deep, and it is situated almost in the middle of the surrounding reserve. This is one of only four impact craters in South Africa, and it’s basically in our backyard – how cool is that?
But wait, there’s more! You will find a lake in the middle of the crater, and this is South Africa’s only example of a crater lake. A natural spring and rainwater feed the lake. Before folks knew about the actual value of this meteor crash site, the lake was mined for some 44 years due to its high concentrations of salt and soda ash. The Setswana word ‘Tswaing’ translates to ‘the place of salt’ and the crater is alternatively known as the Saltpan (Soutpan). One of the exciting things you might note on your stroll through the reserve is the remains of the old salt factory.
Things To Do, Things To See
This reserve is a lovely place for a hike, a picnic, birding, and nature-watching. And, of course, exploring the giant impact crater.
There is secure parking at the reserve and hikers are in the safe hands of the guards who roam the reserve – but we still recommend going in a group. Hikers can hire a guide at a fee of about R250 to show them around the reserve. The hike to the crater site is about 7 km – that seems far, but the hike itself is not too challenging and is suitable for kids. The trails are well-marked, and various plaques indicate points of interest along the way.
Alternatively, you can pay a vehicle fee and drive closer to the impact site, and a enjoy a shorter stroll to the crater. We strongly recommend that you bring plenty of water and sun protection, especially during the summer months.
There is a meteorite museum close to the crater which is worth a visit. You will find a lovely picnic and braai spot at the start of the hiking trail where visitors can kick back and have a good time before or after exploring the reserve.
If you are a nature lover, you are bound to love this place, so don’t forget your camera and your binoculars. The Tswaing Crater Reserve is rich in lush, indigenous flora and fauna. The reserve is home to the Soutpansruit, a natural spring, which feeds the rare wetland system that can be found in the reserve. The birdlife and wildlife are definitely something to keep a keen eye on – it’s truly beautiful.
So, we think it’s about time to lace up those walking shoes, dust off your binoculars, and pack a picnic before you hit the road. This site is invaluable to our tourist industry (both domestic and international), but it still seems to be slightly underrated and relatively unknown – so let’s help to put it on the map. We hope you have a lovely time if you decide to visit this cool spot. Let us know what you think of this site if you have been there before, or are planning on visiting it.
Some Things To Remember
Bring lots of water.
Pack some snacks.
Comfortable clothes and shoes.
A pair of binoculars for those avid birders.
A hat and sunscreen for those sunny days.
A camera – it’s a beautiful place.
Friends and family – why go it alone?
Cash – there is an entrance fee/vehicle fee/guide fee
If you want to find out more about the Tswaing Crater Reserve, e-mail Tswaing@ditsong.org.za or call +27 76 9455 911.
Address: Plat 149 JR Soutpan, Soshanguve
By Tilana De Wachter