Buffalo Bay Hiking Trail – A Short Coastal Walk After living in Cape Town for pretty much all of my adult life, Belinda and I made the decision to move to the Garden Route. There were personal reasons for the move, but it…
Tag: Hiking trails
Falke Delvera Full Moon Hike – A Twilight Adventure
In the ever changing and fast paced world we live, everything has become a rush and we end up not spending quality time with our kids, if you have any, and with our spouses or significant others. For some, the answer is to plan the family holiday well in advance and get away from the demands of work and life in a bustling urban environment. How about having a family outing away from the hustle and bustle of City life and a romantic getaway with your soul mate all packaged together in one evening event, less than 45 minutes from Cape Town? Welcome to the Falke Delvera Full Moon hike run by Dirtopia. Delvera Wine Estate is an agri-village situated on the R44 in the Stellenbosch winelands with lots of little arts and craft shops, restaurants and kids activities.
Dirtopia is an outdoor, off-road event & trail construction company that is located on Delvera Wine Estate. It has a bike shop as well that offers bike sales & bike servicing. Dirtopia’s main focus is mountain bike events although they also organise trail running and hiking events.
I am actually surprised that it took us so long to find out about this event. It is really something special and something that we intend doing again and again.
The hiking and mountain hiking trails are open all year round, but the Falke Full Moon Hike only happens once a month, between September and April. The hike begins at the Trail Centre and goes to the top of Klapmutskop. You and your family can enjoy watching the sunset over Table Mountain with majestic views of the Stellenbosch Winelands, while enjoying snacks, or even a picnic. If you hang around a few minutes longer, you can then see the full moon rise.
The cost for the Falke Delvera Full Moon Hike is R100 for adults and R50 for children under the age of 10. Klapmutskop is part of Simonsberg Conservancy and a percentage of the permit fee is donated to this non-profit organisation. Unfortunately, as the hike takes place in a conservancy, no dogs are allowed. Poop!
The schedule for the remainder of 2018 is as follows:
- 29 April
- 30 April
- 25 September
- 24 October
- 23 November
- 21 December
- 22 December
- 31 December
If you just want to go through for the day there is Dirtopia Trail Centre on site that can hook you up with a fun activity on the estate. There are three hiking trails and three mountain bike trail option on the Delvera Wine Estate. The hiking trails are advertised as:
- The Bird Walk – 1.4 km
- The Vineyard Trail – 6 km
- The Klapmuts Hiking Trail – 9.75 km
The mountain bike trails are advertised as follows:
- The Vineyard MTB Trail – 7.5 km
- The Porcupine MTB Trail – 15 km
- Black MTB Trail – 3 km
How to get there:
To get to Delvera Wine Estate is situated along the R44, near Klapmuts, just outside of Cape Town. The easiest way to get there is to travel along the N1 (direction Paarl), and take the R44 turnoff. Turn right over the N1 and drive for approximately 7km. You will see Delvera Wine Estate on your right (it is the wine farm next door to Warwick and Laibach). Here is a link to the GPS location of the Dirtopia Trail Centre parking on Google Maps.
Opening Times and contact information:
The opening times of Delvera Wine Estate are as follows:
Monday to Sunday:
Dirtopia Cafe and Trail Centre
Trail Centre: 07h00 – 17h00
Dirtopia Cafe: 08h00-17h00
Cafe Fridays: 08h00-19h00
For general enquiries contact (0)21 884 4352
Email inquiries can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to become a friend of the Klapmutskop Conservancy you can contact the secretary by email on email@example.com or call (021) 888 4615
Delvera Hiking & Riding Trail Rules
- Be Responsible – this is an unsupervised facility
- Safety First – helmets are mandatory for all riders
- The use of these trails are at your own risk
- Do not litter
The Speedy Review [tl;dr]
I have seen this hike advertised on Facebook for many months now, and always thought that it was too far to drive, there would be too many people, and just generally it would not be worth the effort. After all, we live 300m from Blouberg beachfront where we can watch the sunset for free.
But Ken and I have been really busy these last few months, and despite having done lots of hiking, we haven’t really had time to just relax and be together. So I suggested this hike, thinking it would be great to just see a different part of the city, enjoy an easy walk (for once!) and spend some time together in nature. I had been quite sick in the days leading up to the Easter weekend, so was contemplating bailing, but once I had my hiking shoes on, there was no turning back.
It was so worth it! The sunset was spectacular, the route was easy, and the company was excellent. We got to spend some quality time together, exploring a new part of the city, which is really not as far away from our home as I originally thought.
We decided to complete the full route (you have the option of taking the shuttle to the Pepper Tree, and hiking from there to the top, but you miss out on the beauty of the vineyards along the way). If we do this again, I think we would start a little earlier, so that we could enjoy some more time at the top, and get a better spot to watch the sunset.
Whilst many of the people at the summit decided to stay to watch the moonrise (about 20mins after the sunset), we started hiking down before the moon made an appearance. We missed the crowds who would be coming down from the top, and also managed to watch the moonrise along the route down – it was magnificent, and the first time in my life I had actually watched a moonrise.
We are unfortunately away in the Cederberg for the next event, so will have to wait until September when the next one takes place.
This is a really enjoyable activity, for all ages. Do it! You won’t regret it.
Dirtopia hosts a whole lot of other events which you can check out here.
Nina rated this trail 0/5 paw prints because there are no dogs allowed in the Greater Simonsberg Conservancy and she felt quite left out.
The Nitty Gritty
On Saturday 31 March 2018, Belinda and I arrived at the Delvera Wine Estate and reported at the Dirtopia Trail Centre. We were briefed on the route we had to walk and were given a map and a free Easter egg each. We were also given a lucky draw number each and told that the winner would be announced on our return to the Trail Centre later that evening.
At about 17h17, we left the Trail Centre [225 m elevation] and turned left and followed brick path through the Falke feather banners. The brick path became a gravel jeep track as we descended toward the dam. At 17h20, we reached the dam and were directed by the Dirtopia Full Moon Hikes signage around to the left and then right so that we were walking with the dam on our right hand side and the vineyards on our left. At 17h24, we reached the end of the dam and turned left. The distance that we had walked until that point was 470 m.
We followed the wide gravel jeep track through the vineyards, passing rows and rows of Pinotage and Merlot vines. At 17h39, we reached the shed [225 m] which is one of the points of interest indicated on the map we were given. The distance to that point was 1.8 km and took us about 22 minutes to get there. The jeep track turned right and went around the back of the shed and up a fairly steep hill directly into the path of the setting sun.
The jeep track then turned right and we walked up a slight incline toward Klapmutskop. At 17h52, we crossed a small wooden bridge and the jeep track narrowed into a footpath. The distance to that point was about 2.9 km with a walking time of about 35 minutes. The trail then went around to the right and split into 2. There was no signage indicating which way we should go so we followed the rest of the crowd and went left. It ended up being the correct path which was good. We had a cloudy view of Table Mountain way off in the distance on our left. At 18h01, we turned left onto the gravel jeep track again [3.5 km] and walked a short distance before turning left and on to a footpath. It had taken us about 45 minutes to get there. We followed the footpath as it zigzagged gradually towards the top.
At 18h05, the footpath crossed over a gravel jeep track and headed up the hill again. If we had turned right there, we would have ended up at the Pepper Tree which is another featured way point on the map we were given. We continued straight over the jeep track and headed up the wooden plank staircase.
At 18h30, the footpath took us under tree cover into a type of forest. It was so nice and cool in there on a day that had become surprisingly warm. The distance to that point was 5.2 km with an elevation of 488 m. The walking time was 01h12m. The rate of ascent definitely stepped up a notch and we climbed that steep section toward the summit. The trail surface also changed quite significantly from gravel to small rocks and boulders.
The trail took us to the right of the top of Klapmutskop and went around the back of the hill. At 18h40, we reached the top of Klapmutskop with an altitude of 520 m and a walking distance of about 5.4 km. It took us about 01h20m to get there. I would describe the ascent as gradual with a slight sting in the tail, just before the summit. We sat together and watched as the sun set off to our left, while we had a clear view of Paarl Rock off to our right. Our hiking stats to the summit:
|Trip Odometer||5.40 km|
|Max Speed||8.3 km/h|
|Overall Avg||4.1 km/h|
We waited a little while after sunset for the moon to rise. None of us on top of the mountain were sure where to look for the the moon to rise, which didn’t help. We were informed that we needed to leave the top by 19h00, at the latest. After the moon was a no show, everyone began to pack up and leave. We stuck around for a few more minutes and also started to descend at about 19h10, by the light of our head torches. Well actually, head torch. Belinda couldn’t find hers so I ended up giving her mine and I used a normal torch with batteries that had seen many a dark winters evening. Not too long after walking down by the light of a head torch and a pap flashlight, someone called out that the moon had started to make an appearance. We all halted our descent and turned around to witness a show stopping moon rise. After taking a few photos, we continued on our way.
At 19h40, we had descended as far as the Pepper Tree jeep track after cover a walking distance of 6.8 km. We continued to descend and about 5 minutes later we reached to point where the Dirtopia bakkie (pickup) was giving free rides back to the Trail Centre. We opted to walk the rest of the way back and turned left and continued along a wide gravel jeep track. We continued along the jeep track following the Dirtopia Full Moon Hike signage and turning away from the red traffic cones. It was hardly necessary to walk with a head torch, by that stage, as the moon was high in the sky and lighting our way back. At 20h08, we arrived back at the Trail Centre and the end of the hike.
This is really a family friendly hike and there were really young children that seemed quite comfortable on the trail. The return journey in the dark was a little tricky, but quite manageable if you take it slow and have a good head torch.
Here are the hiking stats for this trail:
|Trip Odometer||9.0 km|
|Overall Avg||3.2 km/h|
|Elevation Gain||295 m|
The Dark Gorge- A Magical Place in the Forest UPDATED – 17 DECEMBER 2018 Newlands Forest is a firm favourite amongst Capetonians from all walks of life. It plays host to single people out for a stroll, joggers, trail runners, mountain bikers, families and their…
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Half Collared Kingfisher Trail- A Hike Packed with Adventure
How to get there
The Garden Route National Park – Wilderness Section is located in the small village of Wilderness between George and Sedgefield. The Half Collared Kingfisher Trail starts opposite the North gate of the Ebb & Flow Rest Camp.
The official website for SANParks has listed the following directions to the Ebb & Flow rest camp:
“The Wilderness Section of the Garden Route National Park is situated close to the N2 highway, 15km from George, 2km from Wilderness village, 410km from Port Elizabeth and 450km from Cape Town. The closest airport is at George, where car hire facilities are available. Guests visiting Wilderness’ Ebb & Flow Rest Camp, please note the road sign on the N2 to the Park reads Wilderness National Park and not Ebb & Flow.“
Here is a link to the Google Maps Location for the start of the hike.
Opening Times and contact information:
The Ebb & Flow Rest Camp Reception is open daily from 07h00 – 17h30.
Contact numbers (044) 389 0252 / (044) 877 1197
For enquiries e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Hikers are required to purchase a permit in order to be allowed to do the hike. The permit is only valid for 1 day and the fee differs depending on the age and nationality of the hiker.
|SA Citizens||Adult R40 Child R20 [2 – 11 yrs]|
|SADC Nationals||Adult R80 Child R40 [2 – 11 yrs]|
|Foreign Nationals||Adult R130 Child R65 [2 – 11 yrs]|
If you have a Wild Card, you will not need to pay an entry fee, but you will still need to get a permit from the kiosk at the start of the hike.
There was a note stapled to the Gate Registration & Indemnity Docket (hiking permit). It said the following:
Due to a recent change in the agreement between SANParks and the private owner of the last 60 meters of ground to the Touw River waterfall, it is no longer legal to enter this private property and access the Waterfall.
We apologise for the inconvenience but trust that you will enjoy the tranquility of the rest of the 7km of riverine forest and picturesque stops all along the route”.
Types of Trees on the Trail
Some of the trees along the trail have been marked with green perspex tags. You will encounter the following tree species, some with very unusual names:
- Bushman Poison
- White Milkwood
- Cape Beech
- Cape Plane
- Common Saffron
- White Ironwood
- Cape Chestnut
- Forest Elder
- Scrambling Fig
- Cape Saffron (aka Forest Spoon-wood)
- False Olive (aka Mock Olive)
- Red Currant
- Real Yellowwood
- Outeniqua Yellowwood
The Speedy Review [tl;dr]
I cannot believe I lived in Wilderness for the better part of my childhood (nearly 17 years!), and had never hiked this trail. I always heard about ‘the trail up to the waterfall’ but never really took much notice. I am so sad I never took the time to investigate more about the route. The beauty of this trail is truly remarkable, and I am amazed that such a place exists right on my childhood doorstep.
The trail is mainly under forest cover, but there are short stretches that are open and unprotected from the harsh sunlight. Most of the trail is along a wooden boardwalk, however some of the trail, especially in the beginning, is along the forest floor. Watch out for roots and overhanging branches, and be careful of some loose sections of sand and rocks.
At the end of the hike, you come to some spectacular rock pools and two waterfalls. Essential items to pack include: A book, a towel, swimming costume and picnic. You will definitely want to spend some time there before heading back along the route to your car.
The hike takes between 3-4 hours to complete (We had about a 30 minute break at the end for a swim), but you can spend as much time as you like at the waterfalls. The total distance is around 8.5 km. It is child friendly (my 5 year old niece was a trouper of note and managed this hike without a single complaint).
Nina rated this trail 0/5 paw prints, because there are no dogs allowed in the Garden Route National Park – Wilderness Section. She spent a few days with her grandparents instead, and was spoiled rotten (as usual)
The Nitty Gritty
Belinda and I travelled to the village of Wilderness in the Southern Cape to spend time with her family. We decided to try and get in a few hikes while we were down there. Belinda grew up in Wilderness and had done her fair share of hiking while living there. The Half Collared Kingfisher Trail was however one that she had heard about but never hiked herself. That such a spectacular trail was in the Wilderness all that time, under our noses, was such a surprise to both of us after having visited the village on numerous occasions together during our relationship.
On Sunday 07 January 2018, we started the hike at 12h33. The hiking party was comprised of Belinda and myself together with 5 members of Belinda’s family which included Belinda’s 5 year old niece. The trail starts opposite the North gate of the Ebb & Flow Rest Camp. There is a small wooden hut located at the beginning of the trail where you can purchase the permit required to complete the hike.
At 12h37, after walking a distance of 200 m, we climbed a set of wooden stairs (53 steps) and continued along the path toward the pontoon river crossing. At 12h47, we came to a sign that pointed to the right to the Milkwood picnic site [740 m]. A wooden walkway led toward the picnic site out of sight.
At 12h52, we reached the 1 km mark on the trail. For once, a trail distance marker on a SANParks trail was accurate.
At 12h56, we reached a sign board indicating that the Yellow Wood picnic site was on our right hand side. There was a single wooden picnic table to the right of the path. The path also split there. It continued straight on toward the Stepping Stones and right to the pontoon river crossing. We chose to go right and cross the river on the pontoon. It was a really unique way to cross the river. You had to pull yourself along with a rope suspended over the water. I videoed our crossing while Belinda and her brother, Adrian, pulled us across. They were so engrossed in the task of pulling us across as fast as possible that they didn’t see a submerged rock at the other side of the river. The sudden jolt as the pontoon collided with the rock nearly sent me and my camera over the edge and into the water. It was only a steady stance that kept me dry. And we laughed and laughed and laughed.
By 13h27, we had covered a distance of 2.75 km. Much of the trail had been comprised of raised wooden walkways. A section of the trail had been constructed of pieces of slate encased in wire building blocks. There were also benches dotted along the walkways where you could sit and take in the view of the forest.
A minute or so later, we reached a set of stairs [2.80 km]. We ascended 42 steps and continued along the path. Something worth mentioning is that the trail follows a pipeline that extends all the way to the waterfall. It reminded us of the Pipe Track along the side of Table Mountain.
At 13h34, we crossed another wooden walkway and came to a sign that said Giant Kingfisher Trail and Waterfall with an arrow pointing straight ahead [3.11 km]. The sign was misleading as the map of the Half Collared Kingfisher trail did not mention anything about the Giant Kingfisher trail. We followed the path toward the waterfall.
At 13h37, we encountered another wooden staircase comprising of 64 steps [3.23 km]. We climbed the stairs and continued along the path. At 13h48, we crossed a dry water course after covering a distance of 3.77 km. The total time taken to reach that point was 01h15m.
At 13h53, after walking 4.0km, we came to a sign that read:
“NO ENTRY. PRIVATE PROPERTY. SANParks will not be held liable for prosecution of offenders beyond this point”
The trail was not blocked off in anyway. There was a green line that had been painted across the wooden walkway below the sign. As I stood there I could here the shouts and screams of delight of people less than a hundred meters ahead of me and the sound of a waterfall. It did not appear that anyone was taking heed of this sign. Belinda told me later that she didn’t even see the sign! It seemed such a shame to walk all that way and not see the waterfall, so we continued on and a minute later [60 m] descended a short flight of wooden stairs and were met with a spectacular sight. A scene comprised of large boulders, two sets of waterfalls positioned on different levels and people everywhere having fun. It was like a self contained water park with lots of people swimming in the rock pools, sunning themselves on the boulders or sitting quietly in the shade and reading their books. It was a place for both the young and old. Perhaps it does bear mentioning, that the terrain was uneven and slippery and you should exercise a high degree of caution when navigating around the site.
Belinda, her brother, niece and sister-in-law all had a swim in the top pool, and even ventured over to the edge of the waterfall. The water was surprisingly warm. We will definitely go back there, and take a book and a picnic to spend a good portion of the day enjoying this beautiful and unique setting.
At 14h40, we left the water park and headed back along the raised wooden walkway. While we were there, we witnessed a young girl jump of the rocks at the top of the lower waterfall. I can only hope that she had investigated the pool below before leaping off the rocks. It did take her about 20 minutes to work up the courage and to assemble a big enough crowd. Thankfully it ended safely without incident. I had walked around the water park and had accumulated an additional 400 m. The total time that we had spent on the trail, including a long break at the waterfalls, was 02h10m.
At 15h25, we reached the split in the trail again and decided to take the alternate route back to the start, to the right, over the Stepping Stones and not via the pontoon river crossing. The distance to that point was 6.65 km with a total time on the trail of 02h52m.
At 15h27, we crossed two streams making use of stepping stones and ascended a short wooden staircase and on to the other side of the river [6.70 km].
At 15h47, we rejoined the main path at the point where it intersects with the turnoff to the pontoon bridge and the Yellow Wood picnic site [7.42 km]. We continued on along the same path we had walked on the outward leg of the trail.
At 16h08, we reached the end of the hike after walking a distance of 8.7 km and a total hiking time of 03h36m.
The Animals on the Trail
This trail is advertised as being rich in bird life and a bird watcher’s dream. Unfortunately, we didn’t see many birds. What we did see though were various kinds of small creatures along the route and in the immediate vicinity on other hiking trails. Here is a small album of some of the creatures that we encountered while in Wilderness:
A huge thank you to Johan Huisamen of CapeNature for identifying the animals in this blog post!
The Half Collared Kingfisher Trail in the Garden Route National Park – Wilderness Section is well signposted. This is an out and back route that should ideally be done in the early morning or the late afternoon.
Here are the hiking stats for this trail:
|Trip Odometer||8.7 km|
|Elevation Gain||167 m|