Boesmanskloof 2-day hike ~ “The Boesmanskloof Trail winds through the only gap in the rugged Riviersonderend mountain range. It is in the Robertson Karoo region of the south-western Cape. The trail links the small towns of Mcgregor in the north to Greyton in the south. It has become one of the most popular trails in the Western Cape…” This extract was taken from the www.BoesmanskloofMcGregor.com website to give you some extra insight of its locality.
Do you remember that song “The long and winding road” by the Beatles? We shall continue on this motive in a little while!
Six brave souls decided to set up camp, tents and all, on Saturday night in Greyton before setting off on our 2-day hike into the mountains of Boesmanskloof nature reserve, the following morning, only to arrive in Greyton in the rain, more rain, more rain, and after having had a peek at the campsite itself, well no further comment shall be forthcoming, just ain’t much fun putting up tents and then having to take them down in the rain, rain, rain too, so we opted for option 2, finding alternative accommodation. Needless to say, was a lucky find considering that there was some epic cycling event happening at the same time! We stayed in a little place called Pasrivier owned by Angora, our host for the evening, but have to tell you it was an adventure in itself trying to find our way, in the dark, am quite sure that we lost an hour trying to find our way to our accommodation which was only about 10kms out of Greyton! Anyway, we did eventually find our accommodation, Hester, Iain, Marius and Neil settling in for the night in the cottage, very eco-friendly, whilst Tania and myself opted for the camper van. Not too sure whether either of us had an hour’s sleep on this night, lots of different noises. The cock decided to crow at some awful time in the early hours of the morning, something confused him, and us, the wind must have picked up a speed of about 80kms, if not more, because that camper van did not sit still at all and at one stage, Tania was convinced that we would sleeping standing up! The wind was horrendous and we made a decision that if the wind continue howling like it was, there was no ways we would be venturing up into those mountains. Fortunately, when it was time to arise, the wind went to sleep and had virtually died down and it was actually much warmer than anticipated – yeah!
We met up with the rest of the group at about 07:00 on Sunday morning and set off in the drizzle ready for the challenge ahead with the first one being crossing the river, having to take our boots off and walk across. Can’t tell you if the water was ice cold or not, my focus was merely getting across without slipping, losing balance or falling in! We all made it, but then again, it was only about a meter of water to wade through, why the panic?!
The next challenge with all our gear was the gentle drizzle of rain and then the ascent and the constant hum of that song “The long and winding road” was actually very appropriate, and featured a great deal in my mind, can’t tell what everybody else had on their minds! Up and up and around one corner after the other, then seeing the pathway in the distance and your mind is saying “Are we there yet?”, “No idiot, still a long way to go, 14 km’s is quite a distance on your two feet”! Amazing what conversations your mind has with you on such a journey! With the rain easing up, and the beauty that enveloped our beings, we were awestruck and in wonder, and you come to the realisation how small we really are in this majestic wonder of this awesome planet and what nature has to offer us.
Anyway, we did not let the drizzle deter us in anyway, had a stop at Breakfast Rock, coffee was a requirement but can’t say that there was a smell of percolated coffee emanating anywhere from Breakfast Rock – thanks Greyton for the nook without the real coffee! After a short break, back-packed and en route once again to the next stop – the waterfalls…
And we walked and we walked, but the drizzle had stopped and the upward climb seemed rather easy and finally met the sign of Boesmanskloof only to realise that at the other end of the valley was the overnight stop, in the distance, so far, far away, so now the downhill journey we embark upon, and beware of the loose gravel but it helps if the track is a zig-zag one, not too sure about anybody else, but the downhill slog is a lot harder than uphill!
The flowers were in abundance which, considering it’s the middle of winter and snow had fallen the week before, and yet we were blessed and thought how fortunate we were to have had some colour and blooms en route. The walk continues but around every corner is another breath-taking view and then, finally, the waterfall in full flow – another awesome picture, and a chance to put some fuel back into the bodies and have a breather. But it was time to move, the chill factor was getting to us all, wet clothes and seriously needed to move on, sweat, wind and wetness was getting to the bones, so off we went, but first another water crossing at the waterfall, nobody fell in otherwise, oops, over the edge into the pool thy shall go! Have to admit the pathways are well maintained, definitely no chance of veering off into the wilderness, just follow the path made for walking into this magical valley.
We had another section of the river to across, but again, not really wide or deep enough to remove boots and all, merely a bit of boulder hopping and across we were, then the path split into two – Historic route or Natural route, but, apparently the Historic route was shorter albeit tougher on the legs by this point, so another upward climb with steps, yikes, and eventually getting to the pinnacle and then out came the sherry for our efforts and onward we continued. The Historic route related to an intended plan to create a mountain pass of road between the two towns of McGregor and Greyton and the road works had begun and then halted and discontinued leaving behind the mark of man’s intentions. The rock wall had been blasted away, the gravel road laid out and then ….wham all gone and the damage done! It would have been extremely sad had this actually been carved out of this magnificent area.
We eventually had sight of Eagle’s Nest that beautiful guest house overlooking the valley, so our accommodation could not be much further, well so we thought. There were signs putting us in the right direction from Eagle’s Nest thinking, not long to go, and once at the top our hearts sank as we had thought that we had made it, but not at all, we still had more road to trod, yes with signs of encouragement to help us along the way, probably had another 2kms to walk before setting sight on our accommodation and the legs were so weary now…so off we go, again.
Finally, we reached our destination – back-packs off, a warm fire and a hot shower were very, very welcomed, what more could we ask for – a glass of wine or a beer (or 2) and the end off with a tot of sherry to warm our tired, aching souls? The wind, by this stage, made her gusty, howling presence yet again, and was rather surprised that we opted to have a braai, but since the men were keen, the rest of us were happy to oblige, especially if we were all wrapped up warmly indoors with a fire keeping us in good spirits. After the tums were filled and satisfied, and the conversations were slowly lessening and becoming quieter, those who were brave enough to go star-gazing did so, whilst others climbed into that warm, welcoming bed with warm blankets, settling in for dreamland and resting those tired, weary legs, and bidding farewell to yet another day.
No doubt all 14 of us had a well-rested and a very good night’s sleep. www.boesmanskloofmcgregor.com
And then the dawning of a new day!
The weather forecast indicated some horrid early morning temperature, really? Can’t say there were any of us wrapped up in bundles of clothing to keep warm, it was bloody, jolly marvellous ol’ chap! The moon was visible, the sun rise was amazing, although for the most glorious and awesome sunrise, there must be clouds to really make it so much more impressive, but alas not this time, perhaps next time!
After a hearty breakfast by our breakfast chef, Tania, all were packed and ready to amble back towards Greyton and thus began the wayward trip downhill, but after much deliberation, it was decided to get back uphill as no pathway could be seen and this was a rather tricky stretch with back-packs and all, the toes could feel it on this morning. So back up we trudged to the accommodation and then took the easy road to Eagle’s Nest and then the downhill approach and this time on the Natural route which was so, so beautiful, the better route of the two options. So many photographic opportunities, with the flowers and views of the valley below. Once we were at the cross-road, the route was the same as on day 1 but of course, heading back in the opposite direction.
The first break was back at the waterfall again, and believe it or not, some brave (not too sure what to refer to them as here) persons, namely David and Janet, took a plunge into that ice-cold water, brrrr. A good indication to tell you that we had a magnificent day being in the middle of winter and people were swimming!
At 12:20 we set off again on the upward climb heading towards Breakfast Rock and that climb, oh-my-word on that gravel surface many feet were complaining! Had to tell yourself “don’t look up, just don’t look up, you may either cry, scream, shout, curse, but whatever you do, don’t look up!” No it wasn’t that bad because we all made it up to the top, once we re-grouped, we continued down and down and the occasional up, around, down, up, down, down, and then Breakfast Rock for a 15 minute break, with Greyton now visible and in sunshine, instead of mist and rain and the mountain ranges in the background, a spectacular sight!
Once on level ground, took the jeep track right up to the river bed and with some careful planning, carefully crossed the river bed without having to take off them boots! And back to the point of the beginning. Just couldn’t believe our accomplishment and the challenge was worthwhile, enjoy it thoroughly, although the feet said “are you mad, next time, you are on your own!”
Farewell Boesmanskloof! May it not be the first and the last time, so until we meet again, au revoir and then the journey back home and back to reality!