A hiking trail with a difference 

The Western Cape of South Africa has so many beautiful hiking trails. This is one of my favourites

The Western Cape of South Africa has so many beautiful hiking trails that it is almost impossible to choose a favourite. However this one is definitely among my top 5. It is a very isolated trail with absolutely no facilities. Therefore although most people take 5 days to complete the hike you may choose to rush through it in 3 or 4 days if you are limited for time.

The first section of this trail is up an incredibly steep trail outside Ceres. At this stage you are carrying your full pack with food and camping equipment for 5 days so it is a tough beginning. I recommend starting either very early or later in the afternoon so as to avoid climbing in the full heat of the day. If you start late you can sleep at the top and descend into the gorge the next day. I prefer to start early and drop down into the gorge all in one day. This is tough but worth it as the rest of the hike is then more relaxed for time.

Resting after the first climb.

Once into the gorge there is no path as such to follow. You follow the river! Hence a lot of rock hopping is required. With the full pack on your back this is tough and bear in mind the isolation. You do not want to twist an ankle in here! I usually start off very carefully but by the end of the hike have more confidence and am bounding from boulder to boulder.

The drop into the gorge

But the really outstanding feature of this hike is the places where there are no boulders and the gorge sides to steep to climb. These are the compulsory swims! I have tried a variety of ways to waterproof my backpack. From taking an inflatable childrens crocodile to wrapping the bag in a pvc bag specially made for the hike. The best method though is simple dry bags for all your gear inside the pack and just get the pack wet. Trying to keep the pack dry seems to be more effort that its worth and takes the pleasure out of the swims.

One of the many compulsory swims on the trail

Campsites are small sandy areas found along the rivers edge. You may sleep where ever you like but there are limited areas with space for more that one person so you do find most campsites used regularly by groups. As permits are limited and the trail only hikeable in the summer there is very little litter or mess.  

Campsites are small sandy patches on the rivers edge

The last day is a different kind of tough as the river has been inundated with alien vegetation so you have the choice of fighting your way along the bank or wading/paddling through the river. This section of the river is shallow and rocky so it is slow going if you choose the river.

This hiking trail is tough as there is no clear path and no facilities. However the natural beauty and pristine environment are truly magnificent. It runs through private land and the owners limit permits carfeully to ensure the integrity of the area is maintained. Of all hiking trails in the the Western Cape of South Africa this one definitely qualifies as one of the best.

One of the many waterfalls on this trail