ABOUT MAGIC HILLS
About Magic Hills
Location & Nature
The Karoo is an area of great biodiversity. The Swartberg Mountain Range rises like a rugged wall between the Little Karoo in the south-west and the Great Karoo in the north-east. Magic Hills is located in the latter. A leisurely 3-hour scenic drive from Port Elizabeth International Airport, or a 30-minute Cessna flight directly to the reserve’s private landing strip, will get you to this incomparable location.
This semi-desert region is famed for its harsh, yet beautiful, conditions – arid land alive with the most persistent of vegetation, vast cloudless skies, expansive vistas as far as the eye can see, and exceptional bird- and wildlife.
While Magic Hills is home to the Big Five, the rarer creatures attract our more discerning guests. We have an abundance of birdlife, with over 400 different species known in the area, including the endangered Verreaux eagle. There are also 10 endemic bird species that occur in the Karoo and nowhere else in the world, like the Karoo Korhaan, Sclater’s Lark, Cinnamon-breasted Warbler and Karoo Eremomela, whose distinct calls and vivid displays are guaranteed to entice keen twitchers to reach for the binoculars.
There are also over 45 unusual species roaming the land. Brave travelers who wish to explore the grasslands by night may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of elusive animals like the aardvark, caracal, porcupine, black-back jackal and bat-eared fox. Magic Hills is also home to the largest black rhino bull in the world, one of the most critically endangered species, globally.
And then, there’s the flora. Contributing to the cleaner-than-clean air is the incredible Spekboom. One of many medicinal plants on the land, Spekboom is a succulent that literally acts as a sponge for carbon dioxide, able to absorb four to ten tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere per hectare – ten times more effective than the Amazon rainforest.
The history of the Great Karoo is infinite. It’s hard to comprehend that this desert-like expanse of nature was once an inland sea. But history has it that approximately 250 million years ago, that was the reality. Gradually, as the global climate changed shape, the water evaporated, turning this vast sea into a thick swamp where amphibians and reptiles thrived.
The area was also previously home to many different civilisations – from the last of the Stone Age population, to the bushmen and the nomadic Khoi people, and Jan Smuts and his allies, who sought refuge on these lands during the Second Anglo-Boer War. In fact, the legendary house where Jan Smuts took shelter can be found on the Magic Hills Game Reserve, and is currently undergoing restoration. Jansenville, the closest town to the reserve, originated in 1854 when the Dutch Reformed Church formed a parish in the area. The quaint town takes its name from the last Dutch Governor of the Cape.