Time travel – what did the Magaliesberg look like millions of years ago?

  • 10 December 2012

The Harties Cableway is located in the beautiful Magaliesberg, renowned for its natural beauty and rich history – and what a history it is!

You can see incredible views of the Magaliesberg and surrounds from the top of the Harties Cableway! Visit and see for yourself.

We all know that the cableway has been around for a while, the original having been constructed in 1973. For years, people have journeyed to the top of our picturesque mountain, overlooking the Hartbeespoort Dam, which was constructed in the 1920s. But what did this mountain and its views look like millions of years ago?

Around 2 300-million years ago, before the mountain as we know it had begun to form, the area that would become South Africa was under a shallow pool of water. Over time, shores of granite began to erode and form deposits on the bed of this barren lake, until a thin layer of sedimentary rock began to emerge.

Over the next few million years, deposits of quartzite, shale, chert, dolomite and even lava would slowly come to form the land masses that are now mountains, ridges, hills and valleys.

The region resembled a swamp at one point, during what geologists have named the Permean Period (280-million years ago), and an arid desert during the Jurassic Period (150-million years ago). When the continents split apart, and the Earth moved to form rough angles and slopes, some of the oldest mountains in the world were born.

That's quite the geology lesson! Let's fast-forward a bit...

Eventually, the area became lush and home to a diverse range of fauna and flora. The mountain saw elephant, black and white rhino, buffalo, hippos, lions and leopards, among other creatures, roam its slopes and the surrounding landscape. Today, the area is home to many protected wildlife sanctuaries, and has been declared a World Heritage Site, as well as a Protected Natural Environment.

The Magaliesberg mountain range is considered a geological gem. Its highest point is the Nooitgedacht peak, located 1 852m above sea level. The area still supports a diverse range of fauna and flora, and is largely agricultural.

So next time you're taking a cable car up to the top, think of the area's incredible history, and everything it has been up until this point.

Interested in learning more? The information for this blog was sourced from Vincent Carruthers' book The Magaliesberg.

Taken from Vincent Carruthers' book The Magaliesberg.

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