Hiking Jonkershoek – Not Quite Panorama Nor Twin Peaks

The very influential economist Milton Friedman said:  “There is nothing like a free lunch.”  We mortals can translate it to “everything comes at a price.” Somebody else would say “to experience what few people experience, you have to go and do what few people do.”

And this describes today’s hike.  I saw what very few people see.  I could almost not believe my eyes.  One of those hikes where you want to take a tea break every 15 minutes to enjoy the WOW.  But it came at a (very worthwhile) price:  it was one of the most strenuous hikes I did in a long time.  An 18km hike is always tiring.  But this hike has a persistent climb that made me think of turning back!  I am probably exaggerating, but if somebody told me it is 1-on-1 climb, I will not argue!  

What I am trying to convey (other that I am unfit) is that you need a lot of fitness for this one.  Good sturdy shoes is a must.

We left the bakkie at the entrance gate and hiked on the left side of the Jonkershoek dam (clockwise around the circle.)  I was looking for a trail that I did 12 years ago, but could not find it.  No problem, we just continued to where the Jonkershoek circular drive turns and on the left hand there is a marker:  Panorama Trail.  From gate to here is about 5km’s and almost level hiking.  But when you put your foot onto Panorama, you start climbing.  My wife remarked that it feels worse than Boesmanskloof (Greyton to McGregor, which we did last year).  This is a long, steep and steady climb.  Since Panorama is on my to-do-list, I am coming back to finish this (in 2 weeks time I repeat this hike, anyway) and I am looking for a trail to the left that will connect with my contour trail of 12 years ago.  Up we go.  The fuel guage drops dangerously low.  We eat protein bars.  Up we go.  What a relief when I can turn left onto the contour path.

You have to understand this as well:  this IS part of the Panorama Trail, albeit only about 2km’s.  We have amazing views over Jonkershoek.  Opposite us is the First and Second Waterfalls, Kurktrekker Trail (another one I have to explore), Sossys Kloof, the old fire watchman’s house, Peak Sans Nom, out towards Stellenbosch.  Every now and again you cross a little river gurgling over the rocks.  It is well worth the sweat!

Now we have turned left on a downward sloping trail to walk at the feet of all the peaks. Every peak has a valley.  Every valley has a river.  But the best part, every valley has indigenous trees and growth that must be what Jonkershoek was like when Simon van der Stel first saw it.  Next time I will pack lots of snacks so I can sit back at each little river and just enjoy the environment.  From this altitude the cars on the circular drive looks like Dinky toys.  I cannot see people moving.  I have left all my stress and trouble far behind.  Not even SARS could find me here!

The trail continues on the contour for some distance.  Somewhere we missed the trail and got onto a jeep track.  Coming down is a “problem,” since there are lots of forestry trails and these days cycling trails.  They zig-zag and take long round abouts.  We did hike some distance on a cycling trail, which bothered me, because it would be extremely dangerous if a cyclist came down these single tracks and neither one of us has room to move away.  I would like some ideas on alternatives, please.  The real truth is, that I did not want to take chances exploring dead ends, because I was tired by this time.

Eventually we connect to the circular drive again and walk back to the gate for a well deserved chocolate milkshake.

Milton Friedman was right, there is nothing like a free lunch.  I am also convinced that the suffering was a small price for the experience.  Lots and lots of people entered Jonkershoek with us.  A handful saw what we saw.


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Hiking from Muizenberg to Simon’s Town

This is another one of the hikes that I heard about, but never got around to do.  To be very honest, it is not as exciting as I thought it would be, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it.

Park you car sea-side of Muizenberg Station and start hiking along the railway line towards Fish Hoek.  The absolute best part of the route is to Kalk Bay.  Here we had a coffee and some freshly baked what-have-you’s.  

On your way to Kalk Bay you will find the well-known landmark of the St James beach cubicles – a very colourful scene.  This part of the route is special, because the sea is quite close on your left, on the other side of the road is the historic buildings and the Kalk Bay mountains looming over you.  Cecil John Rhodes lived in one of these houses.

One could hike to Kalk Bay and spend the day browsing around in all the little shops, enjoy breakfast or brunch or lunch at one of the many restaurants and hike back.  It could be a day well spent.  The reason this was the best part for me, is proximity to the beach.

Next we did the part to Fish Hoek.  This is on the sidewalk and the sea is not very close.  But you could also have brunch or lunch on the beach at Fish Hoek.  From here towards Simon’s Town is a trail with a few amazing rock formations (see photos).  Then you cross the railway line over a pedestrian bridge and you are on the sidewalk.  I am not sure that one can safely continue along the railway line from Kalk Bay to Simon’s Town.  Please leave your comments.

Simon’s Town hold many fond memories, because I spent two very good years of my youth there.  Spend some time in Simon’s Town.  Visit the Naval Museum (entrance free).  Do some sight seeing.  And enjoy lunch at the Waterfront or close to Just Nuisance on Jubilee Square.

Going back, the train was not operating from Simon’s Town, but Metrorail provided a bus to Fish Hoek (when last did I travel by bus?) where we got onto the train to Muizenberg.  All of that for the grand price (joking) of R8.  Don’t know how they make a profit!  

The total distance to the Waterfront was about 12km’s.  Not strenuous, because it is flat.  Just a nice hike with lots of time for socialising with fellow hikers.

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Palmiet – Kogelberg Nature Reserve – Kleinmond

I am always wondering about many things.  And sometimes I am really amazed, like today.  Why on earth have I never before hiked Palmiet?  There were many opportunities.  We have stayed in Kleinmond often enough.  I have done the Peaks twice in summer, nogals.  But never the Palmiet hike with all it’s pools and opportunity for swimming?

In Spring it might be too cold for me to swim, but I will definitely go back for the flowers that I expect there.

Coming from Betty’s Bay you turn left just before the bridge that takes you into Kleinmond.  Any car (except perhaps a Ferrari) will easily get you to the parking and office.  Pay for your permit (Wild Cards free), walk up the steps, turn right and you are on your way.   

Palmiet Trail

Palmiet Trail to the Right

 There is a marker that says Palmiet where you should turn right.  After that you will have to apply in triplicate with Home Affairs to get lost!

Look out for all kinds of Proteas, Ericas and other wild flowers.  I saw some Cape Sugarbirds and and would expect some Sunbirds in Spring.  


If I was on my own, I would have stopped for a swim at every pool.  But the group wanted to do Leopardskloof too, so we were pressed for time.  We stopped at the Beach (there is a marker).  Doing that is fine.  Spending the day here could be a luxury.  I was curious about the trail, so two of us hiked to where the Palmiet Trail joins a jeep track.  No more swimming on this stretch.  I had to see for myself.  

To the beach is between 4 and 5 km’s.  It is fairly flat, so fitness is not all that important.  Having said that, remember this is not a walk in the park – it is uneven terrain, there are a few rocks and boulders to negotiate where you will need some balance and agility.

In the end I decided on swimming longer and not doing Leapordskloof.  That can wait for another time.

Map at the bottom.



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Strandfontein to Doringbaai – A Walk to Remember

We went on a West Coast Tour in September 2017 and stayed at Strandfontein.  Strandfontein itself was a very nice surprise.  One reads about places and see photo’s, but it is not the same as being there, breathing the salt air, walking on the beach and experiencing the sunset.

I decided to hike from Strandfontein to Doornbaai.  The family decided to join, but I am a detour hiker.  I want to see where this trail goes, what is behind that rock and I take gazillions of photos.  I ended up hiking by myself.  Regular readers will know that is not a problem.

You can easily park at the tourist centre in Strandfontein (Louis Road, Strandfontein) and just start hiking towards Doornbaai.  The tarred road ends and is replaced by a dirt road.  Follow this myriad of tracks and trails, always veering towards the sea.  There was a cairn that marked the trail when we did the hike.  But there is no guarantee it will be there when you do it!  I tried to stay as close as possible to the edge of the cliffs.  Sometimes that is on the edge (“I am a man on edge!”) and sometimes it was not so close.  I tried to explore as much as possible and also descended down a steep slide to the beach as soon as I could.  

Hiking on the cliffs and hiking on the beach are two different things.  The cliff is rocky, on the beach it was quite often sand hiking (just check my well developed calf muscles 😉 ).

You cannot get lost.  The Doornbaai Lighthouse is the landmark to aim for. It is not difficult or strenuous (although one hiker was very sore and stiff the next day, but he is not a regular hiker.)

I can really recommend the breakfast/lunch at the Jetty.  Although I did not join the wine tasting, the Fryer’s Cove wine that I had afterwards was very good.  I rather used the time to potter around under the jetty and generally kept myself busy.  

Although we did it in one direction, the 10.8km is not strenuous, so one could easily walk both ways.


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Jonkershoek Waterfalls

2017 was a bad year for hiking.  I got the Nursery School Bug and just could not get rid of it.  So very little hiking.  Long time no hiking I am very brave and decide to hike in Jonkershoek to the Waterfalls.  Something I did not do for a long time.

I stopped at the gate and hiked in and back.  Fairly straight forward.  Keep right – remember the Jonkershoek circle goes the wrong way round.  Cross White Bridge, Jonkershoek dam will be on your left.  On the right you will see trail marker for Sossyskloof and Swartboskloof (my next hike).  Just go ahead. 

The trail to the Waterfalls on the left just before the big bend where the road turns back over the river.  Fairly steep scramble.  Then you follow the contour.  After about 1.5km the trail to the first waterfall turns off.  Take the time to investigate.  It is a good place to spend a bit of time and enjoy the silence.

I did not go to the second waterfall.  I stopped where the bouldering starts.  This is a very shady spot, ideal for lunchtime.  If you do want to go to the waterfall, I suggest good sandals and swimsuit.  If you have the energy, it is really worth your while to do this trek.

Walking back is just the opposite.

Instead of hiking from the gate, you can do what many people do and drive in and stop at the bend.  Then the hiking distance is about 6.5km.  It is not a very difficult hike.  Map at bottom of post.

Total distance was 16.7km.  It is a flat hike and with very few uphills. 

A few photos from the hike.



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Hiking Christie Prins Trail – Prince Alfred’s Hamlet

Some time ago we were planning on going to Prince Alfred’s Hamlet near Ceres.  It never happened.  But in my preparations I discovered a hiking trail maintained by the local Primary School – Christie Prins Hiking Trail.  This weekend we did go to Prince Alfred’s Hamlet for an excellent weekend and experience.  And the Christie Prins Trail was on the To-Do List.

At the Togryers Museum in Ceres I learn who Christie Prins was.  A man appointed to control varmints, but a nature lover with extensive knowledge about the environment.  A man who worked hard to repair the damage done to the Fynbos by Eskom when they trekked up the Gydo Pass.  I assume the trail is along part of this area.

When leaving Port Alfred’s Hamlet you travel up the Gydo Pass towards Oppiberg.  On the right is the Koelfontein Farm Stall, At Source.  About 100m further you will see the sign to the left:  Christie Prins.  Park here, study the information board and notice that you need hiking fitness.  You can get a map and info at Togryers Museum, or you can download the map on the board here.  Or use the GPS track at the bottom!

There is a space where you can climb through the fence, so do not climb over the fence (my Dad always had serious problems with fence climbers and I have a few scars after fence climbing went wrong).  The trail goes over the dam.  Before you turn left, there is another info board telling you more about the geology and fynbos.  The trail is marked by conical blocks with footprints and rock cairns.  Some places is fairly rocky, then the trail is not very clear on the ground, but the cairns will lead you.

We lost the trail at the pipe, early on.  As you cross the pipe with the valley on the left, keep right.  Lookout for the footprints higher up to the right.  There are a number of trails here and it is easy to take the wrong one.  You just follow the trail up the ridge, up and up.  Uphill (remember the warning about hiking fitness?)  When we came to the bridge over the ditch (taking water from the mountain to the dam) I took off my boots and walked both ways in the water.  It was a hot day and the cold water was refreshing.  But it was also about seeing what is to be seen!  That is the spot marked on the Map as “Fresh Water.”

Uphill again to a jeep track.  If you are tired, go right to the parking area.  We continue uphill.  The valley on the left is beautiful with a waterfall clearly audible, but not visible.  And in the deepest part you look down on a forest that just beckons.  But it far below you and not on the trail.  So there is only one way – up.  The view over the Ceres Valley is astounding.  Every now and then you see the Gydo Pass.  Finally you come to a T-junction.  left is to the swimming hole.  Naturally we go there.  The water is so clear, I think the river is dry!  After lunch I skinny dip.  A brave effort and afterwards I speak falsetto!

This is where I take the photo of the Snotrosie that caught the moth.  At this point you are very close to the top of Gydo Pass.  But the only sound is the birds and the water gurgling over the rocks.  This is why I hike.  Where else can you get peace and quiet like this?

Unfortunately you can’t stay at the mountain tops, so we start back.  On the downward part I pick up litter.  Up to the T-junction there were no litter at all.  No tissues or sweet papers.  Nothing.  Then suddenly there is a Boxer bag, empty plastic bottles, biscuit wrappers.  Could it be people throwing it down from the pass?  The wind blowing it?  The trail is really very well maintained and a testimony to the hard work and dedication of the people working on it.

Going down had two extra special moments:

The first is that you walk on the old Bain Pass – you can actually see the typical Bain stonework in some places.  Bain and Son are two of my heroes.  Unless you have lots of time, don’t get me talking about them!

The second is a Poplar forest.  When you drive up Gydo Pass there is a sharp bend.  You drive through a Poplar forest.  If the window is turned down, it is always cool here.  To me it is one of the prettiest scenes ever.  I never pass here without feeling some joy and excitement.  Today I look down on this wonder.  Sadly, it is a very small forest.  But when we drive here in the car the next day, I enjoy it even more!

According to the GPS the trail is 8.5km.  It took us just under 4 hours of very leisurely hiking (including a relaxed lunch.)

I would love to do this again in springtime.



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Myburgh’s Ravine Table Mountian and a Visit to Grootkop

Saturday somebody asked me:  “Do you often repeat hikes or go to the same places?”  My answer was that life is too short to repeat everything, but there are some places that deserves repeat visits and some hikes just calls you back.  Myburg’s Ravine is such a hike for me.  Even as I was doing it, I was thinking of coming back.

Myburgh’s Ravine is not on the normal tourist circuit.  The trails are not marked.  It is not even always well used.  Saturday our group was almost on our own.  We met one individual on Grootkop and 2 ladies near Judas Peak.  There are not the tell-tale signs of used tissues and sweet wrappers to show that too many people pass.

The trail starts at Ruyteplaats between Houtbay and Llandudno.  There are signposts that keep you away from the Ruyteplaats estate.  Follow the signs and along the fence.  Turn right towards Orange Kloof and follow the trail.  The trail bends left into Myburgh’s Ravine almost naturally.  Just follow the trail.  Mostly you are above and to the left of the river.  We had tea at the waterfall.  Getting above the waterfall is a bit tricky, especially if you are short.  Then we went down to the top of the waterfall to look down.  Up again and eventually in the river bed.  And this is why it is a dry season hike.  After rain the rocks will be extremely slippery.

You get out of the river to the right and then cross to the left.  This always makes my tummy turn.  You are fairly high above the river when you step across a gap.  When it is wet, this part of the trail will be dangerous.  The trail tops out in a lovely valley that shows signs of marshyness and joins the trail that runs over the 12 Apostles to the Cable Car.

To go to Grootkop, turn right.  It is about 2 km’s to Grootkop.  It is a bit of an uphill but not too much.  The view from Grootkop makes it worthwhile and the terrain at Grootkop is special.

Come back in your footprints.  The trail to Judas Peak is to the left, but first take an earlier trail to the right and look down along the 12 Apostles to Lion’s Head. When you come down Judas Peak, a few meters on is another trail to the right to another view point.  Don’t miss it.

Now the descent starts.  Keep right and keep the “lookout” mountain close to your right hand.  This is the beginning of Llandudno Ravine.  Steep, lots of loose gravel. Mountain on the right, small hill on the left and bigger, lush green, outcropping in front of you.  It feels like stepping into the void.  At the worst part there are four staples to help you.  By now it is afternoon and the sun is blazing while you follow the trail down the face of the mountain where you sometimes wonder where the trail will go.  Three more staples.  Another opportunity to look down on Llandudno and Apostle Battery, dating to World War II.

The trail joins the trail that you were on at the beginning and soon you are back at the vehicles.

This is not the easiest hike on Table Mountain.  If you do not have a head for heights, stay away, because there are a lot of exposure to heights.  And do not attempt in winter after rain.  Although I do want to go back to the waterfall after we had good rain.

The GPS called it a 17.9km hike.  


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Hiking Platteklip Gorge Table Mountain

After more than 20 years I decided that I should do Platteklip Gorge again.  And no April’s fool joke either.  It was the day that there was the Platteklip Gorge Marathon going.  While I was blowing, panting and sweating up Platteklip Gorge I was overtaking by people going up for the second and third time for the day!  Platteklip Gorge was busy.  Mostly locals, but way too many people for my liking.  As always, though, there was a good spirit between people sharing an objective and some suffering. 

My idea was to park close to the Lower Cable Station.  The first parking available was on the other side of Platteklip Gorge.  So that is where I parked.  I sort of fell in with 3 youngsters (at my age almost everybody is a youngster) who were hiking Platteklip Gorge as it was the end of the cricket season and they “wanted to do it while they were still fit.” I thought I am unfit, but only one cricketer kept pushing me, but then had to wait for his mates to catch up.  I decided he had to be the fly-half on his team.

It was cloudy and misty and the wind was actually very cold and in some places very cold.  My idea was to get to the top and then do the perimeter of the eastern table.  When I did get to the top, it was very misty and cold and the wind was rather strong, so I decided that coffee at the restaurant was a better idea than messing around on Table Mountain in the fog and becoming another statistic.  If anything should happen to me while I am hiking alone people will have enough to say without me adding more stupidity!  

By the time I got to the restaurant, the fog was clearing up.  After having a leisurely coffee on the porch, the fog has cleared up and the wind had subsided.

Platteklip Gorge has endless steps and steps are bad news for my knee, so I took the Cable Car down.  At the bottom I felt that I have cheated!  So I went back to the contour path and the bottom of Platteklip Gorge and from there back to my bakkie.

As you ascend up Platteklip Gorge, the view stays the same and is forever changing.  You look out over the same part of the City Bowl, but the view changes as the light changes and as you look down from higher and higher.

It is a good idea to start Platteklip Gorge as early as possible.  When the sun catches you here, it will take dead aim and there is no escape!



The Platteklip Gorge – Upper Cable Way Station = 4.5km.  Took me about 90 minutes.

The Lower Cableway Station Contour path trail – 3 km’s took me about hour.


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Smuts Track Table Mountain

This is a “tick-the-bucket-list-hike.” I have been thinking of doing the Smuts Track for a long time, planning my route so that I do a circle hike.  In my head I estimated about 20km’s.  I ended up doing just about 18km’s.  

Apparently former Prime Minister of South Africa, General Jan Smuts, hiked this trail (Smuts’Track) daily late into his seventies or eighties, depending on the source.  He must have been fit.  Anybody who does the Smuts Track daily will become fit.

I did not sleep well Friday night.  I had funny dreams, almost as if I had fever.  But that was forgotten when the alarm went off and I got up, had coffee and breakfast.  06:30 I was on my way and when I drove down Durban Road (I always drive this way, because it gives me a good view of Table Mountain and False Bay) Table Mountain was bright and clear.  Splendid in her beauty.  The promise of a lovely day.  I wished there was somebody who could share the excitement!

I started hiking at the Rycroft Gate at about 07:20.  The Rycroft Gate is not the main entrance to Kirstenbosch and opens a lot earlier for the early bird hikers and trail runners.  Nursery Buttress was clear and welcoming.  I followed the signs towards Nursery Ravine and the Contour Path.  This is a longer route, I think.  But there is method in this madness.  It makes the climb up Skeleton Gorge “shorter.” If you tackle Skeleton directly from Kirstenbosch, it becomes a very long uphill trek in one go.  So I prefer to do shorter uphill, enjoy the forest along the Contour Path and then turn left onto Smuts Track into Skeleton Gorge.  

Not far into Skeleton I realised I am running on low octane fuel and I remember the restless night I had.  My legs were not tired, I just did not have energy.  I was suddenly glad I was on my own.  I would hate to 1.) Keep fellow hikers back and 2.) I would not go on with fellow hikers feeling the low octane, as I did.  I did consider turning back, but on the flats I was OK.  I promise you, the thought of lots of sparkling water, a beer and coffee at the restaurant on top was serious motivation!

The Proteas were breathtakingly beautiful.  At Window River there was a last Disa!  In total the climb is just over 1000 meters.

Maclear's Beacon

Maclear’s Beacon

 Maclear’s Beacon is 1086m and the highest point on Table Mountain.  Some people say the Radio Tower on Constantia Peak is higher.  I would settle for something made of stone.  Because I was craving water and the thought of my Oros was not very appetising (although I drink litres and litres of it) I did not spend the time here that I planned, but pushed on for the Restaurant.  I did stop for some more Protea and Blue Disa photos, though.  

Top Of Platteklip

Top Of Platteklip

Table Mountain is really flat, but there is a gap between the two front tables, formed by Platteklip Gorge.  I dip down towards the top of Platteklip and steeply up to the Restaurant, again.  

Life Savers - Drinking and Hiking

Life Savers – Drinking and Hiking

Did I enjoy the water and my CBC Pilsener!  After my coffee I felt revived and started the return journey.

The return journey was towards Echo Valley, Valley of the Red Gods and towards Kasteelspoort.  This route takes you over some of the 12 Apostles.  I love this part of Table Mountain above Camps Bay.  More Proteas.  Down three ladders and between Blinkwater and Echo Valley.  Time to recall some memories of the times we came up Blinkwater when we were still students.  Good memories with good friends.  Today Blinkwater is unstable and closed, although I did meet a group who came up with Blinkwater.  I go uphill to descent into Valley of the Red Gods.  There I sit in the shade and enjoy an apple.  It feels as if I am all alone in the world. I think of a fellow hiker long ago who would escape the group with the excuse that he “can hear the Red Gods calling” and came to “The Valley of the Red Gods” to spend some time in peace and quiet by himself.  A reference to a poem by Rudyard Kippling, The Feet of the Young Men, where the refrain says “I can Hear The Red Gods Calling.”   I wonder if he were like me?  I like people, but not too many at a time?  Did he also feel lost amongst too many voices?  I certainly enjoy the tranquility of this spot.  Until I give a young lady a fright when she comes around the rock and sees Buddha sitting there. 

Only a few steps and I am away from the spell of the Red Gods.  Kasteelpoort Butress looms over Camps Bay and I have to turn left towards the dams.  I pass the beginning of another trail that I did with my wife a long time ago.  I wish she could see all this, but, alas, a back injury means she would have difficulty with this distance.

Waterworks Museum, Table Mountain

Waterworks Museum, Table Mountain

Waterworks Museum, over Hely Hutchisson Dam.  The dams are full, and this during the terrible drought!  Around Hely-Hutchison.  Turn left away from Nursery Ravine this time.  Top of Skeleton Gorge.  How many times have I walked up Skeleton Gorge?  Who knows.  For the first time ever I go down Skeleton!  On my way down I decide that I have to come up Nursery Ravine at least once before I kick the bucket.  It is a self-respect and pride thing.  To proof I am not a Sissy.  I have never climbed up Nursery Ravine!

Bottom of Skeleton I cross the contour path and go directly down to Kirstenbosch.  By now I do not feel too well.  I am running low on low octane!  

I am really glad to see my bakkie.  

I am already thinking of doing this trail again.  In the opposite direction?  Down Echo Valley?  Watch this space and I will tell you when I have done it.  Before I repeat this, there is Myburgh’s Ravine scheduled for 22 April 2017 and a Kasteels Poort – Platteklip circle I have in mind. 

Route in Pictures:


Some picture of what I saw:

Facebook Photos

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Where My Strassies Took Me Today – Wolwekloof – Franschhoek

Today was the third time I did the Wolwekloof hike.  This quote from Louis L’Amour describes something of this hike:

“I love the stillness.  Somehow it seems to soak through me. Smoothing out all the rough places. Making all my troubles feel like nothing.”  That is what I experienced in Wolwekloof today.

Let me warn you:  Wolwekloof is a lovely hike, but you have to be fit and agile.  It is rock hopping all the way.  In fact, yesterday, when I was swinging down between two rocks, I once again said this is the best full-body workout available.  You need good balance on the rocks.  Also a rock-hopping sense?  Some people always remind me of myself whenever I try to dance.  I always end up in a knot of arms and legs!

Having said that (and I trust you will ensure you are fit before you go),  to me this is a repeat hike.  In the midst of a terrible drought, the river gurgles and flows strongly.  In one pool I had a wonderful water back massage.  The shower at the top waterfall, our destination and place for lunch, was, as always, an exhilarating experience – energising.  

The group, today, was fit and we savoured the moment – we swam a lot, marvelled at the mountain and the trees and nature in general. I love that.  We hiked with intend, but did not rush.  Waking up on Sunday I said to my wife I am going back on my own.  Or I will take a few special people who can enjoy the stillness.  Wolwekloof, to me, is a really special place.

There is no marked trail.  You don’t really need it!  You just follow the river.  So let me try to give you a few pointers.

Permits are available at Franschhoek Tourism.  By they time they wake up, you should be on your way.  It is a frustration if you are not from Franschhoek, but hopefully they will have an online booking system soon, or realise that one can work with emails.  

Get onto the Robertsvlei Road, either just after La Motte or from the Monument.  This will bring you to the guard at the gate.  This is a very friendly and helpful guy.  Always smiling and ready to assist.  Do the admin and visit the loo, it is the last one until you are back and feacies and ablutions in the river is just not on!

You need a vehicle with high ground clearance to get to the start of Wolwekloof.  Drive through the gate and turn right over the bridge.  Follow this road that will take you high above the Berg River Dam.  It is a sight for the wrong reasons at the moment – the water level is extremely low.  I will make a point to go back just to see the dam when it is full.

Keep driving – it is about 7 km’s from the gate.  You drive up a valley with the dam behind you.  The parking area is just beyond the pump station in the river.  Leave the vehicles behind and follow the track into the mountain, almost as if you are not going to Wolwekloof and then turn right.  I call it a trail, but there is no definite, demarcated trails. Just find the easiest way down into Wolwekloof.    

The entrance to the Kloof is littered with dead tree stumps.  These are rotting and in various stages of decay.  It was interesting to see how this maze changed from last year!  The point is, be careful of stepping or walking on these stumps.  The are soft and break easily.  And you could easily break a leg, too!

Not far after the stumps the river (the trail) is “blocked” by a very nice pool.  Twice before I have gone wrong here.  This time I got it right.  It is a spot where the lovely indigenous forest grows right to the river, lots of ferns.  Go right and follow what looks like a water course or erosion.  Do NOT follow this to the top.  About half way up this “track” the trail takes a sharp left around a tree and back down to the river.  Back in the river, you will soon go up again, once more a sliding sort of track.  Here are the two pools where we have our breakfast swim.  Upper and lower pools.  Nice swimming.

From here you have to go on hands and knees under the rock to the right of the waterfall.  You cannot really miss the trail if you look for the overhang.  Shorter people have a difficulty going up to the next level.  Foot and hand holds are difficult and if you lose your footing, it is far down to the bottom of the waterfall.

Now you follow the river, always upstream.  Soon you will come to another very good spot for snacks (as an excuse to swim).  Do stop here and look at the trees that grow to the right of the pool.  

Onwards again.  From here you will go through a type of basin.  It is as if somebody drilled a huge hole in the mountain and you are sitting at the bottom.  Look at the mountain towards Franschhoek.  Take time to see the trees and the forest.  It is one of the most beautiful natural forests in the Western Cape.

The “trail” will take you out of the riverbed to the right and then back across to the left and you will find yourself in a type of corner, once more with the forest right at the edge of the river, a pool with a waterfall, visible through some branches (now that is an almost useless description) on this hike!  The trail angles up through the forest.  Instead of going round the bend (which I think you could only do if you swim) you cut across the mountain.  Be careful of loose rocks and gravel and tripping over Tarzan’s Bobbejaantou.  Just follow diagonally across and up and wait for it.  You round a corner, you are on a level with the bottom of the waterfall.  There is another big (and deeper) pool if you turn your back on the waterfall and walk downstream about 10 meters.

This is Wolwekloof.  One of my special hikes.  Going back is just the reverse! 

Trail Pointers:

High Above Berg River Dam:

High Above Berg River Dam

High Above Berg River Dam

View from where you stop:

View From Parking

View From Parking

Will they still be here next time?

Look for these trees on the right of the trail

Look for these trees on the right of the trail



Wolwekloof Entrance

Rocks. Boulders and Tree Maze

Boulders and Trees

Boulders and Trees

Obstacle Coarse

Obstacle Course






Where I tend to go wrong:

Turn right to get around the pool

Turn right to get around the pool

Lower Breakfast Pool:

Bottom Breakfast Pool from the top

Bottom Breakfast Pool from the top

Upper Breakfast Pool – from here crawl under the overhang

Upper Breakfast Pool

Upper Breakfast Pool

Snack Pool

Snack Pool

Snack Pool

Snack Pool Trees

Snack Pool Trees






Veer left through the forest

Left through the forest

Left through the forest

This is for over the hill ...

This is for over the hill …






Useless Descriptopn Pool

Useless Description Pool

This is IT – Wolwekloof Waterfall

Wolwekloof Waterfall

Wolwekloof Waterfall

Total Distance approximately 10 km’s.  But don’t be fooled, it is not a Sunday afternoon stroll!

My Strassies have come to the end.  We have done an excellent and wonderful 422 km’s.  I was scared of meeting a speed cop on our way back, because I think I have used the soles beyond the legal limit.  

I will now send them back where they came from, Strassbergers Shoe Factory in Clanwilliam, for resoling.  

My Strassies did Wolwekloof 3 times!

First time we went to Wolwekloof

Second time we went to Wolwekloof


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