Duiwelsbos Trail – Swellendam
Duiwelsbos Trail – Swellendam
I participated in a camping and hiking weekend with the SAPSTAP Hiking Club from 13 – 15 July 2018. We used the Swellendam Caravan Park as our base camp for day hikes in the Marloth Nature Reserve. They have recently renovated several of the chalets in the Caravan Park and we were impressed with the look of the accommodation and the facilities provided in the refurbished chalets.
The rates for the new chalets, for a maximum of 4 persons, is R643.80 in total per night for the chalet and R533.60 in total for a maximum of 4 persons for the older chalets.
How to get there
The Overberg town of Swellendam is situated on the N2 highway between Riviersondend and Heidelberg in the Western Cape. It is located 218 km from Cape Town and a similar distance of 212 km from George in the Southern Cape.
According to Capeinfo.com, Swellendam is
“… the fourth oldest town in South Africa, with a population of 35,916 inhabitants (2011 census). The town has over 50 heritage sites, most of them outstanding examples of Cape Dutch architecture.”
The Marloth Nature Reserve is situated just above the town of Swellendam, in the Langeberg Municipal Area.
Opening Times – Swellendam Caravan Park
The Swellendam Caravan Park is located at 34 Glen Barry Street, Swellendam. The office hours and contact numbers of the Swellendam Caravan Park are:
08h00 – 13h15 and 14h00 – 17h00
Tel:+27 (0)28 514 8575
The Caretaker person, Ms Nokwazi Fadane can be contacted at 073 394 6281
Chalets cost between R533.60 and R643.80 in total per night for the chalet. Each Chalet can accommodate a maximum of 4 persons on single beds.
No pets are allowed in the chalets
Opening Times – Marloth Nature Reserve
The Marloth Nature Reserve is managed by Cape Nature. The office hours and contact numbers of the Marloth Nature Reserve are:
Office hours: 07h00 – 16h00
Tel:+27 (0)28 514 1410
Mobile +27 (0)82 496 2450
The Conservation fees are R40 for adults and R20 for children between the ages of 3 – 12 years.
Entrance is free for Wildcard holders.
The Speedy Review (tl;dr)
The Duiwelsbos (Afrikaans for Devil’s Forest) Trail is a short (2km), but strenuous hike to a forest waterfall in the Marloth Nature Reserve. It is too short to be the only hike of the day and should be enjoyed in conjunction with a few other short hikes on offer in the nature reserve, like the Koloniesbos Trail. It can be enjoyed by the whole family if done slowly with regular breaks to take in the view. The waterfall is not spectacular or large, but it is a delightful turn around spot for this short hike in the forest. There are some rocks at the waterfall to sit on and enjoy a snack break before heading back to the start.
Nina rated this trail 0/5 paw prints, because there are no dogs allowed in the Marloth Nature Reserve and she felt quite left out. She did spend the weekend with Mom so it wasn’t too bad.
The Nitty Gritty
This is an ‘out and back’ route that begins at the lower parking area inside the Marloth Nature Reserve, Swellendam.
Start: S 33° 59.946’ E 020° 27.424’ Elevation: 190 m
We started the hike at about 12h30 from the trail head at the lower parking area. There is a grand entrance to the trail with a tall wooden framed structure that you walk through to start the hike. I had decided to start using the Strava App on my phone, in conjunction with the Relive App. I have previously been using the MapMyHike App, but I have been wanting to change for a while. The route distances in this blog were calculated by the Strava App. I have also included distances calculated by my Garmin Etrex 20X to show the difference in the distances calculations across the two devices.
We were 10 hikers in the group which consisted of 3 ladies and 7 men. All adults. The trail began by taking us along the left hand side a mountain stream. We ascended a series of wooden pole stairs with slight respites in between the sets.
After 300 m, we passed a set of wooden stairs leading down to the stream on our right hand side. It would be a good spot to fill up with water if you had, like us, been hiking on other routes in the reserve during the course of that morning. Shortly after that, we walked past a small waterfall on our right hand side followed by a 3 step wooden staircase that we had to climb over on the trail itself.
Again after the 3 step staircase, the trail took us up a series of wooden pole stairs at a steep gradient that had some of us, including me, sucking in more air than normal. It was quite a tough incline that we had to navigate.
At about 13h00, we reached the waterfall and the turn-around point for the trail. It took us about 27 minutes to reach the waterfall. According to Strava we had hiked 1 km while the Garmin showed that we had come only 897 m, at an overall average speed of 1.9 km per hour. The elevation at the waterfall was 345 m.
While we were enjoying the sound of the waterfall, a large troop of baboons came down the mountain to take a closer look at us. They came within 30 m of where we were sitting and stopped to look us over. After a few minutes, they decided we were not interesting enough and they left the way they had come. Not before one of them took a dump on a nearby rock.
At 13h10, after a short break we headed back along the same route. At about 13h30, we completed the hike.
The total hiking distance, according to Strava was 2.2 km while Garmin showed it as 1.82 km, but that included some exploring at the turn-around point. The true total hiking distance, according to Strava, was 2 km. The hike took us about 1 hour to complete.
The elevation gain for this hike was about 142 m according to Strava and 155 m according to the Garmin GPS device.
Watch the Relive video to get an idea of the route and the elevation profile of this hike