• Toban Kahn McMahon

Discover the Haenertsburg Grassland

Toban Kahn McMahon is a local from Haenertsburg, a third-generation farmer whose family have owned and operated a unique business Thomac Essential Oils for 20 years. Located high in the hills of Magoebaskloof between beautiful grasslands and lush indigenous forest, Thomac is dedicated to the distillation of indigenous essential oils. They are the only producers of Helichrysum splendidum Essential Oil which is sustainably harvested and distributed globally.Toban is deeply committed to Thomac as a business that works with nature and not against it. Amongst his many hobbies which include botany, knife-making, wood-carving and cob house-building, he has a love for all things wild and wonderful. He is the kind of person you can expect to meet on a stroll through one of South Africa’s most critically endangered biomes, situated in Limpopo.

A Friend of the Haenertsburg Grasslands, Toban is passionate about this precious habitat and believes that we should all get involved in some way to protect the natural spaces around us. Toban explains that closely surrounding the quaint little village of Haenertsburg, are the rolling hills of the critically endangered Woodbush Granite Grasslands - a biome that is now extremely rare, due to extensive timber farming practices over the past couple of decades.

The grasslands’ new official title is The Haenertsburg Nature Reserve thanks to a dedicated team of locals that form the non-profit organization of FroHG (Friends of the Haenertsburg Grasslands). The protected status is especially important due to the very limited amount of this kind of habitat left on planet earth. FroHG has been working tirelessly since its formation in 2007, to ensure the preservation of this beautiful and special piece of natural history, which is a place to celebrate for one and all.

The Haenertsburg Nature Reserve is open to the public, free of charge, in the form of a clearly-marked 10 kilometre hike, or a shorter version of approximately five kilometres. The scenic Louis Changuion trail traverses the grasslands, zigzagging its way up hill and down dale, in a loop that starts and ends in the Haenertsburg village. It is a walk for everyone - beginners, and seasoned hikers alike, and is also pet friendly! Beautiful views can be expected on the 3 to 5 hour walk, with stops on the way, such as a few quaint picnic spots, and the Haenertsburg cemetery, a favourite for its dramatic views over the village.

The grasslands give nature lovers the chance to appreciate the very diverse and special fauna and flora, which is especially stunning in spring when the wild flowers are in bloom. However, each season has its own wonderful character, from lush green in the summer, to golden brown in the winter.You might get the chance to discover some special plants and creatures on your walk - imagine spotting the rare and elusive Wolkberg Zulu butterfly; the rarely-seen Golden Mole or a fascinating Bolas Spider, along with many beautiful wild orchid species, many of which are endemic to these grasslands and found nowhere else.

So if you are in the Magoebaskloof area and are looking for a little outing with friends and family to get the blood flowing, connect with nature, and breathe the fresh mountain air, then this walk is perfect for you! For a map of the trail and much more information you can visit www.frohg.org

PLAY YOUR PART: Although the hike is free of charge, if you want to do your bit to protect this beautiful biome, you can become a Friend of the Haenertsburg Grasslands for a small annual fee or can simply make a donation at FoodZone General Store, located in the main street of Haenertsburg village. All donations are used for the maintenance and care of the trails, as well as the Nature Reserve itself.

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