Tag: Hiking trails

Buffalo Bay Hiking Trail – Garden Route Short Hike

Buffalo Bay Hiking Trail – Garden Route Short Hike

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…

Arangieskop Hiking Trail, Robertson

Arangieskop Hiking Trail, Robertson

Name(required) Email(required) Website Message Submit Our First High Altitude Adventure   UPDATED - 16 AUGUST 2019   The Arangieskop Hiking Trail is located in the Dassieshoek Nature Reserve in the small Western Cape town of Robertson. Robertson has a population of around 27 000 people…
Devil’s Peak Hiking Trail

Devil’s Peak Hiking Trail

Devil’s Peak Hiking Trail

 

Devil’s Peak On The Extreme Left

 

As a Capetonian, or anyone else really who visits the Mother City, one cannot escape the presence of Table Mountain. If you talk to anyone that doesn’t live in Cape Town they will tell you that the mountain has a profound effect on the behaviour of the citizens who live in its shadow. It’s almost like a powerful mood stabiliser that creates an ‘easy going’ population who are never in a hurry to do anything and who don’t work too hard doing it either.

I usually have a great comeback line ready in answer to these jealous sounding descriptions of the Cape Town locals. It’s obviously completely untrue, it’s just a pity I nodded off just now and cannot remember what I was going to say in reply. I’ll think of something clever to say tomorrow.

Getting back to the business at hand, on Sunday 22 July 2018, Belinda, Nina and I and some hiking friends of ours decided to get off our respective couches and hike up Devil’s Peak. We travelled the 21 kilometres into the city bowl without incident. For those of you who don’t know where Devil’s Peak is. It’s the pointy bit on the left hand side of Table Mountain as you look at it from the front.

 

A brief history of Devil’s Peak

The next question that usually comes to mind is why on earth would someone call it Devil’s Peak? I hear you already shouting out the answer! Something along the lines of a Dutch pirate called Jan van Hunks who used to escape the continual complaints of his wife by taking refuge in the mountains where he would smoke his pipe in peace. The story continues with the visit one day from a mysterious stranger who challenged Van Hunks to a ‘smoke off’ and lost. The stranger turned out to be the Devil himself, who in a fit of anger, vapourised poor Van Hunks. To this day whenever the clouds come over Table Mountain, known locally as the ‘table cloth’, it is said that Van Hunks and the Devil were at it again with their pipes! If you are nodding your head in agreement, you would be wrong! Yes, really really! As popular as this tale may be, it doesn’t appear to be historically accurate. Ha Ha. Take some time to read this post and impress your friends with the true meaning behind the naming of Devil’s Peak!

 

The Trail Head

 

How to get there

The start of the trail is located on Tafelberg Road, approximately 2.5 km past the Lower Cable Station. It is just after the start of the Platteklip Gorge Trail, which is infinitely more popular than the Devil’s Peak trail (we aren’t sure why though…). The upside to this trail is that there’s no problem with parking. You can park anywhere along Tafelberg Road.

The GPS co-ordinates of the start are as follows:      S 33° 57′ 18.7″     E 018° 25’28.1″

 

The Speedy Review [tl;dr]

So, you feel like going above 1000m altitude, but can’t be bothered with the crowds of people on Table Mountain. Why not try Devil’s Peak?

The views are spectacular, it’s a great, strenuous climb and if you are relatively fast, you can be up and down in just over 3 hours (we did in in 4, but we took lots of breaks and the wind was howling).

Devil’s Peak is one of our favourite hikes starting along Tafelberg Road. The panoramic view of the city is spectacular, and you get to see Table Mountain from a different angle. It’s dog and older child friendly, with a well-maintained trail. The child should be 10 years and older and must enjoying walking.

 

 

 

 

Trail Ninometer

 

 

 

Nina rated this trail 4/5 paw prints. She enjoyed the exercise and got to meet nearly 10 other friendly dogs on the way up and down the mountain. Nina doesn’t like the heat so we had to start and end quite early in the day.

 

 

 

The Nitty Gritty

We have hiked this trail several times before compiling this blog post. There are several different ways up to the top of Devil’s Peak, but we decided to take the Tafelberg Road route, via ‘the saddle’. The ‘saddle’ is the flat section between Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak. The photos in this blog come from a few of our hikes, but the account below only relates to today’s hike.

We started hiking at about 07h50. It was a relatively warm winter’s day with a strong gusting wind blowing. I was really concerned about what the conditions would be like on the saddle! Knowing the reputation of the mountain as being dangerous and unforgiving, we carried a few day packs with us containing about litre and a half of water each, a couple of warm tops each, eggs, carrots, snacks, fruit, a first aid kit, a small camera, a peak cap or buff each and sun screen. And food, water and snacks for Nina.

The trail started with a slight incline up a relatively flat rocky path. The path zigzagged up the side of the mountain with silver plaques indicating the directions you needed to take to the top. This was the kind of hike where you needed to stop every now and again and look behind you. You have magnificent views of Table Mountain, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill and the greater city bowl.

The path was generally easy to follow and was marked only by the silver plaques indicating with directional arrows which way to go. There were no distance markers on this trail.

 

 

At about 08h40, we reached a mountain stream where Nina was able to have a drink of water and cool her paws off. Just after the stream, the path splits.  We took the right path as the left turn takes you to Oppelskop. After we took the right turn, there was quite a lot of water on the path, with a small stream flowing nearby.

Soon thereafter we reached the sign indicating straight ahead for Devil’s Peak and right to Newlands Ravine. There are no more silver plaques for the rest of the trail that goes to the top of Devil’s Peak.  I found this extremely odd for such a popular trail. Not only are there no further trail markers, but there are several viable paths that intersect with the trail which can be very confusing. If you are walking in a party of hikers just remember that whichever trail you do decide to take, you must all take the same path. The weather can change very quickly on the mountain and you can easily get separated and then lost! The mist does tend to appear out of nowhere cutting visibility down to a few meters. Definitely not the ideal conditions to be out searching for your fellow hikers while also trying to get down off the mountain.  We found this equally important when fighting against the strong winds on the mountainside.

 

 

That stretch of the trail, from the last silver directional plaque to the saddle, was very steep. The zigzag trail progressively narrows in width and eventually you end up going straight up the mountain. A few members of our group found this section physically demanding. There are certain sections that require some light scrambling over the larger boulders and other sections which are mostly sand and it is difficult to get a proper grip with your shoes. Hiking poles helped with this to get a little bit of extra leverage whilst ascending this steep section.

Something else that you will need to be acutely aware of is that there are channels or pockets of strong icy cold winds that blow on certain sections of the mountain. After about 01h20m into this hike (09h10), we reached the saddle. Even before reaching the saddle we were being buffeted by strong icy cold winds that dropped the temperature from about 20 degrees Celsius to about 10 degrees Celsius. I imagined for a second what it would be like to spend an extended period of time in that wind. It wouldn’t take too long before you would begin showing signs of hypothermia. The saddle also affords you a view of the southern suburbs to your right hand side.  We decided to stop here for a short break to take some photos and drink some water. After a while, Nina became quite impatient so we carried on up the mountain to the summit.

 

 

What made this trail a little different than most other hikes on the mountain was that, for most of the hike, you cannot see your end point, which made orientating yourself quite challenging. What helped me was to stop every now and then, turn around and use Table Mountain and Lion’s Head as reference markers to orientate myself. You should always be heading up and away from Lion’s Head. There are no downhills on the way up, if that makes any sense!

 

The View Behind Us of Table Mountain & Lion’s Head

 

The last push from the saddle to the summit is also not an easy stretch. Mentally you will need to stay in the game until you reach the very top. Be aware that the first trig beacon that you will see as you approach from the saddle is not the summit, but you are nearly there. The summit is still a few minutes further on from that first trig beacon.

At about 09h43, we reached the first trig beacon. The wind was gusting so hard at that point that I was only able to take one or two photos before I was forced to move on towards the summit or risk becoming a para-glider without a parachute.

 

 

 

We reached the summit of Devil’s Peak at about 09h50, which meant that it had taken us about 2 hours to complete the ascent. This was a little slower than we had done it previously, but that was probably because we had been cautious in our approach, due to the strong winds. The elevation of Devil’s Peak is advertised as 1001 m. The GPS I was using fixed the elevation at its highest point at 999 m (#justsaying). We sat down in a relatively sheltered area just under the trig beacon and enjoyed our eggs, carrots, a packet of Big Corn Bites followed by an energy bar for dessert. Nina enjoyed a packet of Pedigree Vital Gravy with Beef & Vegetables washed down with a bowl of Aquelle Natural Spring (Still) water.

 

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There was another trig beacon on the peak just below the highest point which also gave us a postcard image of the city below, including the northern suburbs and beyond. For some or other reason, that particular trig beacon drew the attention of a single ‘print media’ enthusiast. Perhaps it deserved higher praise than the other one.

 

The Third Trig Beacon Just Below The Summit

 

The Stats – Ascent 

The total hiking distance from Tafelberg Road to the Devil’s Peak summit was 2.8 km and it took us about 2 hours to complete.

 

The Descent

 

We spent about 30 minutes at the summit and headed down at around 10h25. This time I had Nina with me because she was pulling too hard for Belinda to be able to handle safely on the descent.

Our return journey, near the top of the Peak, was quite tricky because the path was made up mostly of sand and small stones. Unless you are a trail runner or are possessed with the genes of a mountain goat, you should try and keep your speed down to avoid slipping and falling. 2.8 km can feel like an awfully long way if you have to carry someone down the mountain! Once you are back on the rocky path, the going becomes easier again. Once again, our hiking poles were vital piece of equipment on this descent, especially with the strong winds we experienced.

On the way down, we decided to take the scenic route with a few deviations from the standard route down. One would normally go back down the same way you had come up.

 

 

On reaching the first silver plaque on our way down (the last plaque on the way up), we turned left and walked along the path towards Newlands Ravine and the Pulpit Rock viewing point. That was an easy walk along a relatively flat path to the eastern edge of the mountain. The vegetation is quite overgrown in this area so be prepared for some scratched legs.

If you climb onto Pulpit Rock you can get to see parts of the northern and southern suburbs. Pulpit Rock sits at a modest elevation of 705 m, depending on which GPS device you believe! The view was definitely worth the extra 15 -20 minutes it added to our descent. The Newlands Ravine trail passes by this outcrop on the right hand side. The wind was far too strong for us to climb onto Pulpit Rock so we enjoyed the view from the safety of the trail. Looking straight at Pulpit Rock, you have the Dark Gully on the left hand side of Pulpit Rock and the Dark Gorge on the right. We have written a separate blog on the Dark Gorge Trail which you can read here.

 

 

We ended our morning hike at about 12h25, which left most of the day to relax and contemplate life in the most beautiful city in the world (actually, we went home and slept… Nina is still asleep).

 

 

The Stats – Descent

The total hiking distance from Devil’s Peak back to Tafelberg Road via the saddle and Pulpit Rock was 4.0 km and it took us 02h20m to complete, including a 30 minute break at the top.

 

The Stats – Overall Route

For those of you that are interested in more stats, here they are summarised for entire journey.

 

QUICK HIKING STATS – OVERALL JOURNEY
Total Walking Distance 6.80 km
Max Moving Speed 6.7 km/h
Total Moving Time 01h16m
Average Moving Speed 5.3 km/h
Overall Average Speed 1.5 km/h
Total Time Taken 04h20m

 

Relive the Hike Video

I have also included the Relive video, based on the Strava track log for the route we took up and down Devils’s Peak, including the visit to the third trig beacon and Pulpit Rock. It gives you a pretty good idea of where you are in relation to Table Mountain and Lion’s Head. Watch it here.

 

 

Chapman’s Peak Trail – Hout Bay

Chapman’s Peak Trail – Hout Bay

Chapman’s Peak Trail – Hout Bay     Belinda and I got the chance to do this hike on Wednesday 18 July 2018 as part of our hiking club’s (SAPSTAP) day hikes plan for 2018. We were joined by Roderick who recently accompanied us our…

The Sphinx Trail – Hike Like An Egyptian

The Sphinx Trail – Hike Like An Egyptian

The Sphinx Trail – Hike Like An Egyptian         Updated on 22 June 2018     The Sphinx Overnight hiking trail is located in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. Belinda and I have visited the reserve before and hiked the much shorter Palmiet…

Falke Delvera Full Moon Hike – A Twilight Adventure

Falke Delvera Full Moon Hike – A Twilight Adventure

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:

  1. 29 April
  2. 30 April
  3. 25 September
  4. 24 October
  5. 23 November
  6. 21 December
  7. 22 December
  8. 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:

  1. The Bird Walk – 1.4 km
  2. The Vineyard Trail – 6 km
  3. The Klapmuts Hiking Trail – 9.75 km

The mountain bike trails are advertised as follows:

  1. The Vineyard MTB Trail – 7.5 km
  2. The Porcupine MTB Trail – 15 km
  3. 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 info@delvera.co.za

 

If you want to become a friend of the Klapmutskop Conservancy you can contact the secretary by email on info@delvera.co.za or call (021) 888 4615

Delvera Hiking & Riding Trail Rules

  1. Be Responsible – this is an unsupervised facility
  2. Safety First – helmets are mandatory for all riders
  3. The use of these trails are at your own risk
  4. 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.

 

 

Trail Ninometer

 

 

 

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
Total Time  01h20
Moving Time  01h09
 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.

 

The Stats

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
 Total Time  02h52
 Moving Time  01h56
 Overall Avg  3.2 km/h
 Elevation Gain  295 m

The Dark Gorge – A Magical Place in the Forest

The Dark Gorge – A Magical Place in the Forest

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…

Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail – A Forest Canopy Experience

Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail – A Forest Canopy Experience

Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail – A Forest Canopy Experience     The Brown Hooded Kingfisher Trail starts in the small village of Duiwe River, just behind Island Lake. It forms part of the many trails in the Wilderness National Park (Between George and Sedgefield)  …

Half Collared Kingfisher Trail- A Hike Packed with Adventure

Half Collared Kingfisher Trail- A Hike Packed with Adventure

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 enquiries.wilderness@sanparks.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:

“Dear Visitor

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”.

More on this later…

 

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:

  1.    Bushman Poison
  2.    White Milkwood
  3.    Cape Beech
  4.    Cape Plane
  5.    Common Saffron
  6.    White Ironwood
  7.    Cape Chestnut
  8.    Forest Elder
  9.    Scrambling Fig
  10.    Cape Saffron (aka Forest Spoon-wood)
  11.    False Olive (aka Mock Olive)
  12.    Red Currant
  13.    Real Yellowwood
  14.    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).

 

 

Trail Ninometer

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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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 Stats

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
Total Time 03h36
Elevation Gain 167 m

 

Coastal Hiking Trail – Blaauwberg Nature Reserve

Coastal Hiking Trail – Blaauwberg Nature Reserve

Blaauwberg nature Reserve is a hidden gem along the Western Seaboard     This blog post is very similar my post on the Tygerberg Nature Reserve.