Tag Archives: West Coast

Cederberg Heritage Route – Day 1

Cederberg Heritage Route - Dec 2014_0009 (2)The gathering point for all of the Cederberg Heritage Route Trails is Clanwilliam, an easy three hour drive from Cape Town. Cederberg Heritage Route - Dec 2014_0020 (2)

We gathere at the Yellow Aloe – a real oasis in what can be a very hot Clanwilliam – and were treated to an excellent light lunch. This was followed by a trail briefing by Cederberg Travel, the organisers and co-ordinators of the Cederberg Heritage Trails, before being piled in to the transport vehicle for transfer to the start on the Pakhuis Pass. There we met Gert our cart driver and the six donkeys, Trapnet, Satan, President, Tryna, Beaufort and Willem, plus Jonas, the ‘sparewheel’ and back up. They would be transferring our luggage to Heuningvlei, with option for hikers to ride on the cart or walk the trail.Cederberg Heritage Route - Dec 2014_0011 (2)

Having been sitting all the way from Cape Town, we all opted to start the trail on foot and the cart went ahead of us with the luggage.  This section of the trail follows an old jeep track that is no longer in regular use, but is suitable for the donkey cart to negotiate at a reasonable pace. Within a few hundred metres of the start of the trail it is easy to forget that there is a tar road in the near vicinity. The rocky outcrops, randomly balance boulders, sculptured shapes, deep valleys and high peaks absorb one quickly in to the wilderness environment. There is no formal hiking guide on this section, with Gert stopping his charges from time to time to allow walkers to catch up.Cederberg Heritage Route - Dec 2014_0030 (2)

I opted to experience to donkey cart ride on a section of the trail to rest my legs and to enjoy Gert’s dry humour and his interaction with the animals. On a rocky road, a donkey cart is a bumpy, bone jarring experience and not the most comfortable form of transport. Most reasonably fit hikers will probably opt to walk most of the route. It is a bit of fun however and amazing to see how these hardy animals keep their footing, negotiating the rough terrain with some steep slopes, particularly on the downhill sections. The Afrikaans term ‘stadig oor die klippe’ (slowly over the stones) comes to mind. Being a jeep track the walking is reasonably easy and it takes about three hours to cover the 12km distance.Cederberg Heritage Route - Dec 2014_0042

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Shelley & Meier Tour Oct 2012

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Shelley & Meier Tour Oct 2012, a set on Flickr.

The first three days of the tour with Shelley and Meier Altman, from Perth, Australia.
A brilliant few days in the Cederberg, the weather was kind and we had some great hiking.

Tour organised by Afruka Eco Tours: www.afrukaecotours.co.za ; contact: info@afrukaecotours.co.za

Day 1

This was one of the most interesting and diverse tours I have done this year. It included three days in Maltese Cross, the Wolfberg Cracks and Wolfberg Arch and the Savilla Rock Art Trail, before heading down the West Coast to visit Bird Island at Lamberts Bay and finally heading home along the West Coast.

I met up with Shelley and Meier at their accommodation in Milnerton. We got off to a good early start from Cape Town and headed for the Cederberg via du Toitskloof, Slanghoek Valley, Ceres and the Gydo Pass. I had not done the southerly route before, so the Gydo Pass and the road between Op-die-berg and Matjies River Nature Reserve were new to me. That alone was a worthwhile experience as it is a most spectacular pass. The tar ends about 20 km outside Op-die-berg and it is not long before the fantastic rock formations of the Cederberg start making their presence felt. Being the end of a fairly wet winter, the stark Cederberg terrain is relieved by plenty of green patches and there are quite a few strongly flowing streams along the route. The patches of vineyards, fruit trees and olive groves in the deep valleys add to the add another dimension as the brown ribbon of road winds into the distance.

We arrived at Sanddrif a bit early for the room to be ready and decided to head off immediately to tackle the walk to the Maltese Cross, having lunch on the way. It is very easy to underestimate this walk as it is often regarded as a warm up for the longer walk through the Wolfberg Cracks to the Wolfberg Arch. It is quite deceptive and tougher than it looks as you are climbing roughly 600 meters, and the path is quite direct to the first ridge. With regular stops however and a bit of mutual encouragement we made it up the steepest section. Once on the ridge it is a bit easier going with the trek up the last section of valley to the plateaux temptingly revealing the top of the ‘Cross’ before it disappears again.

Suddenly you are on flat plateaux and the magnificent rock structure of the Maltese Cross dominates the path ahead. If you have not seen it before, nothing can prepare you for the size and uniqueness of this rock outcrop. We took a slow walk to the base, with Shelley shooting off the path to get a different angle for a photograph or seeing a special shot. If is only proper to spend some time here to appreciate the ‘Cross’ and the surrounding environment. It was also time to unpack the lunch that we had brought along and enjoy some refreshment.

The walk back is much easier and we were able to appreciate the magnificent views all the more. We were back at the car by 4p.m. and ready to head for our overnight accommodation at Sanddrif. The timing was good to get the fire going to cook some angel fish for dinner. After a long drive and great walk and the good company of Shelley and Meier it was a satisfying day, but did not take much to get to sleep once the head hit the pillow.

Gallery:

Cederberg Shelley & Meier Day 1
Cederberg Shelley & Meier Day 2
Cederberg Shelley & Meier Day 3

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Filed under Cederberg, Day Hikes, Day Trekking, Day Walks, Flower Tours, overnight trails, Slackpacker, Slackpacking Trails, Tours, Trekking South Africa, Western Cape Hiking Trails

Posberg Nature Reserve – Aug 2012

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Posberg Nature Reserve – Aug 2012, a set on Flickr.

For guided day tours from Cape Town (Aug / September) – hikes or drives contact Frank: hostnet@mweb.co.za

Posberg Nature Reserve – drive or hike

The first thing that comes to mind when the name Posberg is mentioned is flowers. The reserve is a privately owned piece of land within the boundaries of the West Coast National Park. It is managed by SA National Parks, but is accessible to the public only in August and September each year when it is opened to show off the magnificent array of flowers.

The best way to visit the reserve is to set a day aside, park at the gate and follow the Klipspringer hiking path up on to the ridge. This way you get to see both the detail of the individual flowers, as well as the incredible flower carpeted expanse of open veld and the views to the sea.

If you are on the ball and book early, you can also arrange an overnight hike in the reserve during this time. The trail follows a circular route and the overnight site is close to the beach at Plantjies Bay. You will need to bring your own tent and food supplies, but it is a beautiful experience to spend the night under the stars.

For those that do not have the time or the inclination to walk it is possible to drive the scenic routes. It can be done in an ordinary saloon car, although a high clearance vehicle is preferable. At various parts of the route you will be able to see the Atlantic Ocean, Saldhana Bay and the port of Saldhana, Langebaan Lagoon and the West Coast National Park.

Within the West Coast National Park, on your way back, you can visit the site of the discovery of “Eve’s” footprint at Kraalbaai. Dated at 117,000 years old it is proof of human habitation of the area during the Halocene Age.

For flower tours, both hiking and driving contact info@afrukaecotours.co.za or frank@slackpackersa.co.za. We cater for tours for one up to ten people or complete the contact form and we will get back to you.

Visit our web site at www.afrukaecotours.co.za.

Contact Frank: Cell 082-8824388

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Filed under Birding, Day Hikes, Day Trekking, Day Walks, Flower Tours, News

Cederberg – August 2012

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Cederberg – August 2012, a set on Flickr.

For guided hikes and overnight hiking trails contact Frank: frank@slackpackersa.co.za

It is always an uplifting experience to walk in this magnificent part of the world. I had not been there for some time, so it was good hike some of the familiar paths and to experience some of the not so familiar routes. The weather for the weekend held to the predicted clear and warm, with some light rain coming in on Sunday evening, prior to our departure on Monday morning.

There was quite a bit of snow at the higher levels and plenty of white frozen sheets, at the lower levels, showing how low down the snow had come. Camping was chilly and getting up in the morning a bit of a challenge.

Having arrived just after midday, we decided to walk to the Maltese Cross before setting up camp for the evening. It is about a four hour round trip, allowing for a bit of time to spend at the ‘Cross’ itself.

I had not been on this route for a very long time and was a bit surprised that it was quite an uphill trek – somehow I was expecting it to be flatter – but that is probably a perception created by the photographs that show it to be surrounded by a fairly level plateau. It is not surprising however, when one realizes that this plateau sits at an elevation higher of 1400m, higher than the entrance to the Wolfberg Cracks. What a brilliant hike, with the reward of the overwhelming splendour of the ‘Cross’ itself, not to mention the formations, rock layers and natural sculptors on the route.

There was a welcome cold beer waiting in the cooler box on our return, while we set up the tents and got the fire going while it was still light. Later that evening we attended an (outdoor) talk at the Cederberg observatory. In spite of warm clothing it was a fairly chilly outing. It is great to be reminded of just how many stars there are in the sky and just how small we are in relation to it all. With no moon on the night there were so many stars that it was even difficult to spot some of the more familiar one – an awesome sight.

It was up at first light the next morning to give ourselves plenty of time to get through the ‘Cracks’ and to the Arch. We were a bit slower getting going than we had planned. The main excuse was that there was no hot water in the men’s showers (pipes frozen?). After a bit of research (as there were no women in the camp) we found the hot water in the ladies ablutions – maybe because it was ‘Women’s Month’.

The walk up to the Wolfberg Cracks is fairly steep, but it is a good path that is well graded. It never really feels as if you are climbing that much. I had done the route several times and it is well cairned, so it is not difficult to follow. For our own interest, we spent a bit of time exploring the ‘easy’ route to the small crack. This route avoids going under the chock stone and across the narrow ledge, but it is not that easy to follow and although we did find it in the end, it was more by luck than good judgement. As we had left our packs at the start of the usual route, we had to go back to fetch then and came through that way.

The small crack has a few challenges, with scrambling over rocks and boulders and squeezing through a few narrow openings. Except for two places, none of these are any real problem, apart from the rocks being a bit rough and likely to give one the odd scrape or scratch. The first of the two challenging obstacles, is a short chimney, where it is necessary to push oneself up using feet and back, until you can get the fingers in to a small crevice to pull and manoeuvre yourself on to the boulder at the top – not easy, but doable. The second obstacle, quite close by, is a boulder that you need to slide under, with only just enough room for a medium sized person to get through. It can be a little claustrophobic, but with the right angles not too difficult. There is a way over this, that I have done in the past, but on the day looked more daunting than going under.

Once through this section there is a narrow crack that leads out on to the ridge above. It is a good place to rest and have a tea break. There is a large flat area of rock above the cracks with magnificent views over the valleys below and surrounding peaks.

There are various cairned routes to the Wolfberg Arch from here, offering the hiker slightly different options for the out and return route. The route is over and flattish plain with a few rocky outcrops in between. On the outward route, the cairns are a little more difficult to follow than on the return, but it in clear conditions, following the general direction is no problem. From the top of the Cracks, the Arch can be seen in the distance, but only becomes visible again on the final plain. It is a walk of approximately one and half hours to reach the outcrop on which the Arch is perched, and another twenty minute to get up to the base. While from a distance, you might think it is just another of the majestic formations of the area, but once there, it is a very special and awesome spectacle.

The walk back to the wider of the two cracks and the route down, is very well cairned and we did this at a faster pace than the outward trek. The wider crack is a beautiful and tranquil place, and reasonably easy until you get close to the end. The climb down to rejoin the path is quite tricky, with some rough downward scrambling and boulder to negotiate over or around. At the end of long days hike it is tiring rather than difficult. As you meet the path you can look down to the valley below and clearly see the route back to the cars, parked in the parking area below.

If the beers at the end of the first day were welcome, at the end of this day they were appreciated even more. With an hour deviation for exploring, the hike had taken us eight hours.

As we prepared dinner the predicted rain threatened, but held off until we had eaten, enjoyed some local red wine (Cederberg Cellars) and got ourselves into our warm tents and sleeping bags. Luck held again the next morning when the rain held off while we packed up and headed for home, after the obligatory visit to the Stadsaal Caves.

A wonderful, although all too short weekend.
Your Cape Town Host

For guided Table Mountain and Cederberg walks and overnight trail contact:

info@slackpackersa.co.za or
visit our web site at http://www.slackpackersa.co.za or
blog at http://www.slackpacker.wordpress.com .

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Filed under Adventure, Cedarberg, Cederberg, Day Hikes, Day Trekking, Day Walks, News, overnight trails, Slackpacker, Slackpacking Trails, Trekking South Africa, Western Cape Hiking Trails

Posberg Private Nature Reserve – Flower Walk

Posberg Private Nature Reserve 16 Sept 2011

Hearing that the flowers on the West Coast were wonderful this year we decided to take advantage of the perfect weather on Friday to head of to Posberg. There have been good rains in the area this year, as well as further up in the Clanwilliam and Namaqualand, but this is the closest toCape Townone can go to get the real wild flower experience.

Posberg is a private nature reserve within the boundaries of theWest CoastNational Parkand managed by SANParks. It is only open to visitors in the flower season of August and September each year. It has an extensive network of roads for drivers, but you only get the true benefit of the beauty of the flower by walking. They only allow 20 hikers on the day route, so it is advisable to get there early, particularly if you are going on weekends. 

The nature reserve is set on a peninsula that sometimes can leave one a bit disorientated, with the sea on one side and the Langebaan Lagoon, that links with the sea, on the other. It almost feels like being on an island and leaves you wondering how you got there. There is really has a bit of everything from crashing waves and beaches on the one side to still calm waters on the other, animals, rock formations and of course – flower. The walks are easy, with only one short climb on the day route (14km) that we were doing. There is also an overnight route that is booked up well in advance. For this you would need to carry your own tent. There is a small variety of game, with Zebra, Eland, Bontebok and Kudu being the most prominent.

The flowers did not dissappoint, with carpets of white and blue stretching across the flat areas, punctuated by patches of orange. This is the macro view however and there are many more beautiful flowers would simply miss if you don’t get out on the walking paths. The bright orange and white of the daisies is the most dominant, but there are the pinks of the Oxalis, the reds and blues of the Gladioli, the very prominent blue irises and the yellow, orange and blue of the vygies. There are of course many others and it is very rewarding to spend a day of easy walking through this magnificent Park.

At this time of the year one needs to keep a good look out for snakes – we came pretty close to stepping on a puff adder and were lucky enough to be able to get a photograph before it slithered fairly slowly away. There are also masses of tortoises and if you look at the photographs you will see a sequence of a fight between two males, with the one tipping the other over on to his back and then biting his legs every time he tried to right himself. Needless to say, he was rescued by the interfering humans.

The day hike finishes with a short walk along the beach and back along the road to the car park. All in all a very satisfying days outing, but I did feel sorry for those who can only do it from a vehicle.

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The Tortoise Fight – Posberg

The Tortoise Fight

We came across these two adversaries having a fight for domination, while hiking in the Posberg Private Nature Reserve. The dominant tortoise turned the loser on to his back and then bit at his feet every time he put them out of his shell to try to right himself. We watched them for about ten minutes while the winner watched over the one on it’s back. Eventually we did intervene and helped to poor guy, who scurried away quickly in to the undergrowth.

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Slackpacker SA

Now THIS is the way to experience the outdoors!

  • You want to have an active, outdoor holiday and experience South African trekking – but you want to travel light
  • You want to walk the trails – but all you want to carry is your water, lunch, waterproofs and camera
  • You want to breathe the fresh air, smell the fynbos, absorb the views and feed your soul – but you want a guide to lead the way
  • Come the end of the day, you want your drink cold, your shower hot, your meal home cooked and your accommodation comfortable – but you want to be spared the logistics and the schlep

Well, congratulations – you’ve come to the right place – that’s what Slackpacking is all about

  • ……….. and if you don’t have the time or the inclination to hike the overnight trails we can guide you on some amazing day walks in most parts of  Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula.

For more information complete the TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM or e-mail info@slackpackersa.co.za or read on.

Slackpacker SA offers multi-day trails that last from two to six days. Overnight stops are in top-notch camps or lodges set in beautiful surroundings. You’ll have your own qualified guide with all the specialist knowledge required. You’ll be shuttled to and from the beginning and end-points and your luggage will be transferred between overnight venues. Best of all, you’ll be served a home-cooked meal and a choice of drinks at the end of the day’s trek. After an active day and good company you will sleep comfortably in serviced accommodation.

Great hikes, great photo opportunities, great chat, great memories

For those with less time, there are day hikes on Table Mountain and in the Cape Point Nature Reserve, as well as walking-tours in the Cape Winelands.

Based in Cape Town, in the Western Cape, we operate within the Table Mountain National Park – stretching from the city centre to Cape Point, 60 km away – as well as in the Cape Winelands, Garden Route, Overberg and West Coast. We also partner with trails on the Wild Coast, in the KwaZulu Natal Drakensberg and other parts of South Africa. But wherever we take you, it’ll be in true Slackpacker SA style.

Traditional South African hospitality, exquisite natural scenery
and healthy physical activity all rolled into one

Slackpacker SA can also take care of the tour arrangements for your entire visit – your itinerary, accommodation, airport shuttles, visits to interesting venues and attractions, wine tours and other outdoor activities. You could join one of our pre-arranged tours, or we could create a private itinerary just for you.

Whether you join us as individuals, couples or groups, for a special event or as a team-building group for a corporate event, rather focus on the serious business of having a good time – and let us take care of the rest.

Imagine waking up on top of a mountain in a Natural World Heritage Site, in the middle of a vibrant city!
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Filed under Day Hikes, Day Trekking, Day Walks, Garden Route Hikes, Information, overnight trails, Slackpacker, Slackpacking Trails, Table Mountain, Tours, Trekking South Africa, Western Cape Hiking Trails, Wine Walks