Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve – The Sphinx Route

Over the past year or so my son has been joining me on day hikes and in December he asked if I would take him on a overnight hike. I started looking for places to go almost immediately and kept coming back to the Hottentots Holland Trail, which I have done twice already, but it just seemed the perfect beginners hike. I then asked him repeatedly if he was sure before asking my hiker friends if anyone would like to join us. Initially I thought that even if only 5 of us go it would be great, but in the end I was thrilled to have 13 join us. (Of which 2 were also kids hiking overnight for the 1st time)

We all got up early and met at the main entrance where we signed in and then waited for a few late hikers that had to turn around half way because they forgot to pack a sleeping bag… LOL 🙂  Luckily we are all happy and patient and this is after all not a difficult or very long hike. We parked our cars in the secure parking area, put our backpacks on our backs and set out with some very excited kids.  The first part of this hike through the pine trees, on the Jeep track, I find the hardest.

Once you split off the Jeep track and onto the trail it becomes much easier and more scenic. Every time I do this hike we see different flowers and this time it was an ocean of pink fynboss with a few other flowers and the odd king protea in-between. It really was magical!

We stopped at the top to have a snack, then again for a drink of fresh water at one of the river crossings (not much water sadly) and a bit further on just to enjoy the view for a while. Even with stops it only took us just over 4 hours to get to the Shamrock Lodge.

Just my opinion, but this is a much better stay than the Landdroskop Hut at the top. The toilets however have always been very smelly and definitely not treated with sawdust or environmental friendly as they should be. There are no showers or electricity but there is rain water and a bit of cell phone reception if you really need to use your phone.

We all had something to drink and just relaxed for a while. The kids explored a bit but then one of the boys cut himself badly with his rather sharp pocket knife. (No matter how careful you are, accidents do happen from time to time) The Dad tried to bind up his finger but decided that stitches would be better. A few calls were made but thankfully a call to Cape Canopy Tours (they do the zipline about 500 m from the 1st hut) turned out to be the best. They came to our assistance and took the Dad and the 2 boys down to their cars so that they could go to the hospital for 6 stitches and sadly back home.

Once we sorted that all out myself, my son and Loraine explored one of the koppies close by while the others all did their own thing. A steep climb but stunning views…

Once down we had some coffee then walked around the hut exploring a bit more. There really is so much to see if you just explore a bit.

There were 2 other groups in the 2 other huts and they made the fire so that we could all braai our meat. They really overcharged me for wood that turned straight into ash… next time I’ll consider taking pre-cooked meat or even hiker food that just needs to be heated up in my little pot on my hiking cooker. We all turned in rather early and had a bit of a restless sleep. I was up at 5.30 to watch the sun rise.

The group was up, had coffee, breakfast and ready by 8:00 for our hike back. We decided to take the same route as the 1st day because it really was beautiful. If you have never done the hike before then take the Landdroskop Jeep Track back so you can see the gorge and Braille trail along the river (not sure if it still exists so ask first).

It took us only 3 and a 3/4 hour to get down and that is with lots of photo stopping. I guess I will do this hike every 2 years because it really is so beautiful.

Even though my son battled a bit with his back-pack (not being used to 14kg on his back) he said he loved it and would love to do another overnight hike. I suggested we do the Otter Trail but he said said: I think 1 night or 2 will do for now… hahaha





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