Hiked up Klapmutskop on an overcast Sunday morning. The idea was to go wine tasting if it was raining too hard but the slight drizzle at the start passed over quickly and apart from a very short downpour of light hail, no rain on the rest of the walk. The 360 degree views from the top are quite beautiful with a multi-coloured patchwork of farmlands below. The cry of a fish eagle passing by while we had our tea was a bonus. The three and half hour walk brought us down in time for lunch which after finding most of the wine farm restaurants fully booked, we eventually found at the Blaauklippen Food Market (every Sunday for future reference). This was a good choice but we only just managed to scrape in a wine tasting at Neethlingshof at about 3.45, before the farms all closed up for the afternoon.
This scenic hiking trail is in the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve, just outside the town of Franschoek, in the Western Cape. While the town is known for its wine and it’s gourmet restaurants, the surrounding mountains offer some very accessible hiking routes, ranging from a short two hour excursion, to a full days hiking such as this one. The destination is Perdekop (Horse Peak), from where there is a 360 degree panoramic view. While the walk up is fairly easy, the steep route down is challenging on the knees.
After last week’s rain, Sunday was one of those wonderful, sunny, Cape winter days. Nevertheless it was a cold start with a breeze coming off the snowy mountains not far away. Once we got walking the beanies and fleeces soon came off. The first part of the hike is a fairly easy undulating hike, to Uitkyk view point. There was plenty of opportunity to stop to take photographs of the views back down the valley to the Theewaterskloof Dam. We stopped for tea at the view point, enjoying the view over the Wemmershoek dam. The trek up from there to Perdekop is slightly more strenuous with the destination hidden from view for most of the route. Once it came in to view it seemed to get further away as we got closer. We made it there by lunch time and enjoyed the amazing 360 degree views all the way to Cape Town and Table Mountain in the distance and Worcester in the opposite direction. The circular path leads back down the valley to the start. Although shorter, this is the most strenuous part of the hike, with the path being almost entirely downhill and very steep in places. By the end most of the party knew where their knees were and there were a few sore feet and thighs. All was worth it though and certainly rates as another of the most scenic hikes in our beautiful Cape. It was great to stop for a quick cup of coffee in Franschhoek afterwards.
We will have to make a plan to come back for wine tasting on another occasion.
The final day of this particular option is a guided walk along the Sevilla Rock Art Trail. After breakfast we were met by local guide and rock art expert John Mountain, for transfer to Traveller’s Rest, where the trail starts. The road out of Wupperthal is quite spectacular and a visit to this area, via the Biedou Valley, is worth just for this drive. The gravel road showed sign of being worked on and for the most part, was in excellent condition. Although the trail is only 4 km in distance, it has nine rock art sight with an incredible variety of images. I have walked the Savilla Trail several times myself, so was familiar with the area. John, with his expertise, gave new insights in to the history and the interpretation of the rock art.
The terrain is fairly flat, following the bank of a riverbed and the walking is easy. John has so much to add and so many stories to tell, that it took us a bit longer than anticipated, with the only negative was that we could easily have spent another hour or two with this interesting man.
For a full album of images from the Cederberg Heritage route click on the image below.
The town of Wupperthal is small, picturesque and has an interesting history. It is famous for it’s rooibos tea and has a small factory outlet with a full range of the local product. As we were in self-catering accommodation, we wasted no time in finding this and stocking up for both immediate consumption and to take home. Apart from the natural, original flavour there are a few variations such as mint and lemon, as well as a number of combinations such as honeybush and buchu (also a local product).
The town’s history is based on the Moravian Mission Church, a beautiful building in the centre of town. Unfortunately there is very little information on the history of the town available there or at the museum, which is a very disappointing collection of unrelated artifacts. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wupperthal
As we were there during a holiday period, there was not much activity at the famous shoe factory, although there was a small range of products on display. Much could be done with this as an attraction.
Being a small town, it does not take long to explore and within an hour we had seen all that there was to see and spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing and enjoying the atmosphere. Dinner that evening was at Leipolts Restaurant, named after Rhenish missionary, Johann Gottleib Leipoldt, one of the founding fathers of the town and father of C. Louis Leipoldt.
Once again we experienced the wonderful hospitality of the area and enjoyed an excellent meal based on local cuisine.
Today Klaas takes over from Riaan as guide for the day and once again we head out early to escape the heat. We are heading for our final overnight stop in the historic mission station village of Wupperthal. It is the shortest and easiest of the days, but there is the promise of an interesting river walk with waterfalls and pools and later in the day, the opportunity to swim in the river.
We start on the back path that takes us through Grasvlei, whereas the day before we had come in along the road. Here we join the road to Kleinvlei. Much of the days walking will be along this fairly substantial jeep track, with occasional detours off the road to see a view point, a waterfall or to take a short cut.
There are two very special waterfalls on the route, Nooiensgat and one that appears to be nameless. We would not have found either of these without a guide and both are quite unexpected and wonderful. In the one case, the slow running river is suddenly forced in to a narrower channel and over a 50 metre (I am guessing) cliff face; in the other it is spread out over a lower, moss covered ledge and in to a large and beautiful pool, surrounded by lush trees and bushes.
The path passes through the little settlement of Agtervlei, before the heading off towards Kleinvlei. From here it follows the valley of the Tra-Tra River towards Wupperthal. It is on this section that the promised swimming spots are easily accessible and we had no hesitation in jumping in to the cool water.
From here it is difficult to see exactly where the path goes to get to the village and it has a somewhat surprising turn in to a small valley and up on to a ridge which overlooks the town. The terrain changes quite dramatically here with the rock formations around Wupperthal completely different from the sandstone of the Cederberg. The picturesque town sits snuggled in to a triangle where three valleys meet.
Within a very short period we had dropped down in to the village, once again pleased to be there as the temperature was beginning to rise quite quickly. We arrived shortly before lunch time and had some difficulty in locating the key to the self-catering cottage in which we were to spend the night, but once Klaas had organised this for us we settled in to the cool and comfortable venue. Once rested and lunched, we would explore the town.