"Melville Koppies - the way things were" Top 5 Page for this destination Melville Koppies Nature Reserve Tip by CatherineReichardt

  View from Melville Koppies towards Hillbrow
by CatherineReichardt
  • View from Melville Koppies towards Hillbrow - Johannesburg
      View from Melville Koppies towards Hillbrow
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      Spider hunt at Melville Koppies
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      Small Daughter proudly displays gecko
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      Scorpion at Koppies - fortunately not venemous!
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The Melville Koppies are part of the rugged Witwatersrand (?White Water?) ridge that runs west-east through the western and northern suburbs of Johannesburg. Further west along the ridge is Langlaagte, the site of the first gold discovery in the Witwatersrand basin in 1886, which transformed this whole region forever - the reef was made by a prospector called George Harrison (and you thought that he was a Beatle!).

The Koppies have been proclaimed as a nature reserve and the central part of the Koppies has heritage site status (and restricted access). The Koppies also provide an unusual vantage point, from where you can look out over the northern suburbs all the way to the Magaliesberg.

The website says it best: "The Koppies are the last conserved remnant of Johannesburg's ridges as they were before the discovery of gold in 1886. Its geology goes back three billion years. Stone tools show that Early Stone Age man camped here as long as 500 000 years ago. There is a Late Stone Age living floor. Within the last 1 000 years Iron Age immigrants arrived, and remains of their kraal walls can be found on the northern slopes. In 1963 an iron-smelting furnace was excavated and can be seen today.
"The vegetation of the Koppies is entirely indigenous and is a remarkable example of the richness of highveld grasses, flowers, and trees so close to a city centre. These ridges have looked like this for hundreds of years."

The western and eastern sections of the reserve are open to the public, and are used by dog walkers, hikers and small church groups who gather on Sundays for their open air services. These groups practice a mix of Christianity and traditional worship, and it is interesting to watch the faithful in their colourful robes, gathered in small groups of no more than 20 people, singing, dancing and drumming. Each group has a different ?uniform?, and I have often mischievously wondered whether they are 'colour-coded' on the basis of their previous transgressions!

There are sporadic reports of people being accosted by vagrants in the western and eastern section of the Koppies, so I would suggest that you don?t go alone, and avoid visiting times when there are unlikely to be many people around (weekends are the best option).

The central part of the Koppie is closed to the public, except on certain Sundays of the month, when guided tours are offered. This is the section of the Koppies that contains the Iron Age sites, and a small donation is requested.

There are also special events arranged at the Koppies from time to time (see the website).

Bird ringing days take place several times a year (next one scheduled for 12 June 2010). Last summer, Husband and Small Daughter spent a hot, happy morning hunting spiders, scorpions and a few lizards under supervision of an entymologist who helped them to trap and classify the beasties before releasing them back into the wild. They had an absolute blast!

For all of June up to 16 July 2010, World Cup Tours will run Monday to Friday 09:00 - 11:30 Booking is essential for these tours (011 482 4797)

Address: Melville Koppies, Johannesburg
Phone: 011 482 4797
Website: http://www.mk.org.za

Review Helpfulness: 4.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Dec 19, 2011
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