Amatola Hike (day 3, 4, 5, 6)
Amatola day 03 – Dontsa Hut to Cata Hut – 19.2km
We agreed to get up at 4.30 so that at first light (6.15) we can start walking and have a bit more time to stop along the way and enjoy the hike. The quick packers got up at 5 😊
Day 3 is long but you start seeing all the waterfalls and it was much nicer than day 2. As soon as you hit the 1st waterfall you start with an uphill to get those leg muscles working super-fast. The path does level out a bit but not for long… did I mention the uphill climb!
After we reached the top it was fairly even walking for a while with beautiful surroundings and views. Look our for the split in the road or you will have to go UP the mountain instead of the easier but slightly longer way around it. We took a wrong turn but quickly realized our mistake. The branch over the road was meant for the cattle not to continue… not us 🙂 Did you know that after every up there is usually a down… LOL
Well the long downhill was rewarded with a quick swim, or shall I rather say dip, for some of the group.
After a bit of tree hugging (to the amusement of others) and a quick lesson of how to whistle with a acorn we continued until we hit a rather LONG jeep track that we thought would never end. The worst part of day 3!
What a relief to see our hut… Cata Hut was really lovely with 4 rooms and the ablution was clean and neat! The cooking hut was set outside and a bit dark but in winter it will be nice and cosy with with fire going. Washing done while the sun was shining and thunder rolling in the hills around us but not reaching us.
Amatola day 04 – Cata Hut to Mnyameni Hut – 13.5km (1880m peak)
Day 4 was another beautiful day. We started off with a stunning sunrise that lit up the mountains for some distance.
The distance may seem short but the +-5km straight up from the hut was tough. When you think, you are at the top, you get told to go up some more and the fact that we lost the path didn’t help either so we had to plot our own way up until Gill found markings at the top. The view however was spectacular.
Remember what I said about going up! You must come down… but we also crossed a strange strip of rocks that resembled a landslide.
Then we got to what was my most scary part and sadly I didn’t take any photos as I had to focus on getting off that zip-zap path to a more secure path. Thanks to Andre and Marinda for sticking with me and not laughing when I had a bit of a cry from pure relief. Nobody understand fear of height except someone else who suffers from it. I’m just grateful that I seem to be getting better but still have to learn how to control my emotions when in that situation.
After the downhill we arrived once again at beautiful waterfalls and quite a bit of swimming was done by some of the group.
We arrived at Mnyameni Hut at about 4 so there was enough time for some of the group to go to the swimming holes next to the hut to go for a shallow dip. I opted for a shower, coffee and to catch up with my washing while it was windy and sunny.
Mnyameni Hut was also very nice. The showers were ok but you couldn’t close the doors and 1 toilet was usable unless you are a man and don’t mind using the toilet with a seat.
The cooking shelter was shabby and there was not 1 table to be found. Most of us ended up dragging out mattresses and cooking our dinner on the balcony which had a lovely view.
Amatola day 05 – Mnyameni Hut to Zingcuka Hut – 18.2km
We had a slow start with a steep uphill (by now we should have been used to it, but somehow you just don’t) but the views from the top were spectacular as usual.
Day 5 was also one on my favourite days with lots of ups, waterfalls and swimming holes. My camera packed up completely and I had to make use of my cell phone for a few photos.
At one of our morning stops when the swimmers went swimming one of the ladies decided to put a stone into Gill’s pack-back to slow him down (as a joke). She put it right at the top and we all though he would see it when he got dresses but somehow, he must have picked up his bag and the “3 rocks” slid down and he carried them all the way to the hut, unbeknown to all of us. How he did not feel that extra weight is still a big mystery to everyone. At least he took it in good spirit and laughed about it.
We had the best lunch spot of the whole week and the longest. Pure bliss. After lunch we continued but about 30 minutes before we arrived at our hut it started to drizzle lightly. We also got to see a beautiful rainbow and listen to thunder as it approached us.
We were very surprised to find the Zingcuka Huts still locked but Vanessa somehow got enough signal to phone the ranges to come unlock the huts for us. The huts are spilt into 2 rooms and nice but the ablution was another story. The showers are a disgrace and the toilet is a long-drop that stank so bad you just couldn’t use it. (Shovel and bush was a better option) We made a fire in the donkey and some of the team tried to fix the piping only to find the whole water tower was collapsing. Gas and portable basin came in very useful once again. It was rather chilly so the fire was at least nice to warm up a bit.
It rained all night long and into the next morning….
Amatola day 06 – Zingcuka Hut to Hogsback – ±12.8km
Last day was wet, wet, wet… The rain pelted down with mist and 7 to 5°C temperatures. After doing the 3.6 km waterfall route, we decided to follow a forest road back to Hogsback, +-8 km. A pity we could not finish the last day but the rain was coming down too hard. We could hardly see where we were going, the path was getting more and more slippery and we were not enjoying it anymore. I only managed to take 2 photos and didn’t want to bugger up my cell phone as well with the rain.
A warm shower, pizza and wine was just what we needed to complete the day. Sadly, some of the group had cold showers due to others not being considerate…
Life of a hiker 😊
Will I do the hike again jut to finish the last day?! NO! There are many other hikes I would like to do and as I am not 30 anymore, I guess I should rather move onto other hikes and adventures 🙂