Our Karoo Hike written by Loraine and I added a bit here and there to go with the photos I took…
Every journey begins with a plan. “Plot, plan, execute!” But it also involves a decision of where, what, how etc, etc. Anyway, some months ago the Golden Girls were introduced to a walk in the Karoo by David and it didn’t take long to decide that this would be the chosen destination for our yearly slack packing hike getaway.
So after months of trepidation and anticipation the day finally arrived… Early on Sunday 17 August, with Tanja offering to be our designated driver, our Karoo trip started. Maxine had us in hysterics with her very creative poetry about each one of us. We stopped for a hearty breakfast at the highly recommended “Country Pumpkin” on Route 62 in Barrydale. From there the journey continued onwards to Oudtshoorn, where we stopped for a quick visit to one of the ostrich farms for a stretch and a drink.
Our host, Elsa Davids, was, as promised, waiting for us on arrival at the Lidiikwe Private Nature and Game Reserve gate at the time specified and all parties arrived together. At this point we left the madness of the real world behind and entered the vastness of freedom, tranquillity and bliss, but definitely not 100% quietness. The Karoo, in its earthly surroundings, wrapped its heart and soul into this space and welcomed its visitors. We settled into our lovely tented accommodation.
The fire was lit by Jaco and Elsa told us stories around the camp fire whilst the thunder clouds were rolling in and making a threatening appearance. We briefly shared our reasons for why we were at Lidiikwe and who we were. (All 13 of us) We had two 70 year olds in our group, Jeff a regular hiker but a first for his lovely wife, Heather. They were accompanied by their daughter, Penny, and son in law, Steve all from JHB. Our single lady, Holly from CT and Jaco, as a representative from Cape Union Mart Mossel Bay.
Dinner was served and shortly after we all headed for our tents to settle in for the night while we listened to the lightning, thunder and rain. The night sounds of jackals, nightjars (birds), owls and of course screams of laughter from the top corner of the camp…Hobbit tent and company 🙂
Day 1 ~ 21 km
After a hearty plateful of oats we set off into the Karoo wilderness. First stop was a tea break on the stoep of one of the bungalows where Elsa gave us some cultural history of those bygone years, introducing the ouma Karoo, but before introducing the male counterpart, she informed the men of the bush that has health benefits and then showed us oupa Karoo in this ultimate glory…ha,ha,ha – and off we trudged, further and upward.
We had a short break at the top of one of the very steep hills to witness the vastness and openness of this glorious place. The pathway went down a slippery slope and side stepping was best as there was a lot of shale. We spotted some gemsbok in the valley and some fantastic formations of the conglomerate hills. We continued upwards and naturally Tania asks me if this reminded me of Boesmanskloof… yes but not quite so exhausting and quite easy by comparison. Once at the top, oh my, breathtaking views expanding far into the horizon, where the skies are blue and clear. Absolutely awesome! We gathered atop, rested our weary legs and just gulped in this expanse of openness before heading downwards into the valley below for our lunch break, under the acacia trees.
Up we go.. View from the top!
After our replenishment and rest we continued up and down among the hills and valleys. Once again, from above we spotted Eland, Kudu and buck but just too far away to capture on camera. The front walkers were quite fortunate in seeing the beautiful giraffes a lot closer than others!
By this time the group certainly was split up and some rescued by the Grand Prix/Cowboy/quad biker racer (the farmer) who probably considered himself the rescuer extraordinaire, who though he was the hero of the day while the women whom he did rescue had wished that they had continued the slog instead but alas, we all made it back to camp with our limbs in tack and our young Cape Union Mart representative who survived his first hike ever, did confess that he was “fucked up” after the long 21 km hike with a rather fit Tania way ahead of the group. He really picked the wrong one to walk with as a 1st time hiker! 🙂
No sooner had Elsa arrived back at camp and she began with dinner for the weary hikers – where does she get her energy from? Again, much hilarity around the camp fire with thunder clapping the skies. After helping with the dishes it was time to bid goodnight to all, suffice to say it was now the turn of only two guys to end the night raucously after one too many! (Let’s say no more… )
Day 2 – 17 km
Again, where does Elsa find her energy, (she was up early making coffee and oats for us) this place obviously revives your inner being and provides her with much nurturing. It was time to bid Lidiikwe farewell and move on to the next stop over.
So we began our trek once again through the openness, over gates that wouldn’t open, giggle-giggle, stretching those legs up and over, through the veld, through aloe country with the land bringing in a totally different landscape and a diverse new wonder of nature and the Karoo farming countryside.
After a short tea/coffee break where Ina doctored Gills blisters and Jaco fed her… 🙂
We continued along the dirt roads of this community until we reached our lunch spot along the stream offering shade and a foot spa for those brave enough to tread into the ice waters.
After the break, off we continued until we saw the Oudemuragie sign, to our host Maggie Fourie, for the next 2 nights.
Now, this view and its surroundings against the Swartberg Mountains, nestled in the valley was just too spectacular for words. Koppies on the one side and beautiful mountains on the other, which we were blessed to witness the ever-changing colours as the sun moved over them. The marvels of nature! Maggie handed over the keys to our group while we enjoyed ice cold, home made lemonade, tea and coffee. We headed off to 3 separate cottages, but met up with the sheep herder bringing in the sheep for the night ahead.
End of the day, we all deserved a good glass of wine, to watch the setting of the sun and then dinner was served once again, in typical Klein Karoo hospitality. Tums full so off to bed we went
Day 3 – 6 km
The dawning of a new day… 2 of us were lucky to be served coffee and tea with rusks in bed with a smile by Elsa our host/butler/guide/nurse/entertainer, always with a story to be told, what a wake-up call.
After breakfast it was time to venture out yet again, to explore the farm and explore we did.
Just a little ascent, ok, just a little one but before doing so we did a little ritual by the river to wish us well on our walk. The san people would bless Mother Nature before embarking on a hunt and ask her to grant them what she had to offer – such special little people.
We had quite a long uphill before we saw the dam and two hot blooded bodies whose names shall not be mentioned because… really “you must swim in water that comes from the top of the mountains!” really cold (and either daft or brave)?!?
By then the less brave continued up and over more hills – the surroundings, by the way, at the dam held a different beauty, no wind, so the mirrored images cast upon the water were quite amazing. The two ice blocks at the back slowly made their way up and over the hills where they caught up to the rest of the group heading down towards the stream and poplar tree forest, where the “fairies” lived. And after once again climbing over gates we made our way back to the farm for lunch.
Some of the group decided to have an afternoon nap but a few of decided to explore the farm instead. We wet up with Maggie and she told us about the friendly sheep so we headed off to the pastures to talk to her sheep! Three of them came to say hello in return for a cuddle, scratch and a kiss!
And then there were 3… Who just cannot get enough of walking and continued exploring and decided to climb up the koppies, behind the cottages, for a 360 degree view of mountains and farm lands – priceless!
The end of our hike experience but still much entertainment, fun, laughter – I don’t think we stopped laughing from the moment we arrived at Lidiikwe until we bid farewell to Maggie and our truly amazing host Elsa Davids on Thursday morning.
Maggie ran to the top of the Koppie to wave to us…
No doubt there will be a memory embedded in each of us from this Karoo journey, which has captured our souls in many elements and I know we would recommend this journey to all wishing to find something within themselves just yearning to explore a different terrain.
The Golden Girls and David continued the trip back to Cape Town with a few short stops and a night at Watmwaterberg Spa. We relaxed in the warm mineral hot spring baths before dinner reminiscing about the trip and wonderful people we met. Friday Morning we had a hearty breakfast and then a quick stop at Saggy Stone for a beer tasting to finally end our lovely Karoo trip.
Thanks for the memories and all the fun and laughter and I know we all look forward to our next adventure together!