TAKING PART:

Dave & Fay Jones      – organisers

Greg & Cheryl Devine  –  assisting                    Fran Hunziker

Tony & Evie Bowen                                           Dave Collet

Clive & Sandy Louw                                          Joan Louwrens

Fred & Nikki van Berkel                                    Karin van Niekerk

Doug & Hilary Daubert                                      Jane Luck

Albert & Saartjie  van der Merwe                     Bill Uren

Hettie Esterhuyse & grandson Eerwee            Irmela Kohlsdorf    ( 22 Members and 1 guest.)     23 Total

GENERAL:   Advertised as a Multi-Activity Meet, this well supported outing was centred around the Gamka Dam Resort where its five “rustic” cottages had been block booked for the weekend.  This provided 20 official beds, but the owner kindly opened up a store room/dormitory area for the overflow.  He does not allow tents on the reserve but raised no objection to Campervans being used.  Cost was R 150 pppn.

Gamkapoort Dam cottages gamkapoortdam@gmail.com   072 925 8421  – Fox Ledeboer (owner),  200km

A party left together from the George Library at noon on Friday but most of those on the Meet preferred to travel independently and to make their own arrangements regarding drivers for the cycle legs en route.

The Meet was self-catering but Karin van Niekerk kindly did a lamb potjie for those who wished to chip in on the Friday night while Fay organised black-pots for, “everybody contributes” veggie-bakes, on Fri & Sat nights.

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Gamkapoort Dam from Cottages  (40% full)

CYCLE LEGS:

Writing under correction since most cyclists travelled independently with the drivers they had organised, it seems that nine tackled the cycle legs into Gamkapoort.  Some started at the foot of Seweweekspoort which gave them 45km to the cottages while others did the final 25km, downhill run only from the top of Bosluiskloof.

With more time to organise drivers, to judge from the number setting off on bicycles from base camp on Sunday morning, even more seem to have done cycle legs on the way home.  Conditions were unpleasantly windy on the Sunday return home after a beautiful day experienced for the main activities on Saturday.

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Cycling the Bosluiskloof Pass on the way to Gamkapoort Dam –  Photos by Irmela

KAYAK OUTING:

With four kayaks having been brought along, one of which was a double, five paddlers  joined Dave on his kayak exploration of the dam looking for signs of a “ sunken road”. The main road linking Ladismith to Prince Albert used to go down Bosluiskloof and across the Gamka River where the dam is now to be found.  The map showed a 6 km stretch of water from the starting point near the dam wall to the head of the dam, but since it was only 40% full, within 4 km dam water became silt.  However, this dried fill made pleasant walking for about 4km upstream to what seemed to be the point where the old road left the old river bed to head towards Prince Albert.  Certainly there were clear signs of a well constructed, but long abandoned road.

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Kayak team set out hopefully but had to do a lot of walking to reach the dam head.

(All in search of a sunken road)

GAMKA GORGE EXPLORATION (To Hell & Back – nearly):

The highlight of the weekend was a descent through a gate in the Gamkakloof Dam wall into the gorge beyond in an attempt to reach Die Hel.  Greg led this exploration by the main body of 16 hikers and describes his trip as “interesting”.  In view of the heat in the gorge and the slow going over polished rocks, others in his party used less polite language.

The gorge party set out early through a gate in the dam wall and were safely in the gorge by 8 am.  They decided to walk for 4 hours and then, if the road crossing in Die Hel had not been reached, to turn back.  Calculating by GPS, after boulder-hopping for about 10km,  the  leaders estimated that there were still another 2 km to go at the turn around point.  Other wiser members of the party turned back earlier and all were very glad of the odd pool to cool off in even though no water was being released from the dam.

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Gorge Exploration Party – photo by Fred van Berkel

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The impressive Gamkapoort Gorge – photo by Dave Collett

CONCLUSION:

Although the Gamkapoort Dam Cottages are a trifle over-priced given their rustic condition and the 2015 cost has gone up to R 200 pppn, the resort does make a convenient base for more exploration.  One suggestion is that the gorge be penetrated all the way to Die Hel, with over night accommodation arranged there and a return the next day.  Also attractive is the possibility of pretty easily reaching the crest of the high Swartberg from the cottages as the north slopes above them are fairly gentle and not heavily bushed.

– Dave Jones

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