I regret and was confused and a bit angry about the planned hike last Saturday (18th January) due to the rain and many cancellations. Friday afternoon (24th January), I suddenly had the idea of still doing it, although the tide in the afternoon was wrong – springtide high.

So I contacted Fred, as I had no contacts anymore. Four hiking companions turned up: from L to R: Sandy Louw, Clive Louw, Hans van Ameyde (meet leader), Maretha Alant and Fred van Berkel (photographer).

We left at 09h00 from the mouth of the Groot River which crossing was easy as it was very low tide.

After our coffee break on “Pig’s Head” we went the usual Tsitsikamma Trail up to the point where we turned off to Kovie. The weather was sunny and warm.

We then went through the bush and the mountain bike trail to find the small trail to the coast. Clive found a widened fishermen trail to the coast, but I stuck to my well-known trail to reach the coast. We met again at our well-known lunch spot.

We left quite early, may be because of fear for the spring tide, to reach the end of the trail around 15h00!

Thanks to local tourists some of us got help to cross the river, particularly our backpacks by canoe. I saw a big  problem for me due to my weak legs, drift sand and a very strong incoming current!

Two ladies noticed my problem and volunteered to support me and help me to cross the river.

Obviously, I gave them a big hug and kiss (on the cheek) as I appreciated their help so much.

After all, a beautiful day to spend in that area including beautiful weather.

Hans van Ameyde – meet leader


Greg and Janet Moore, Peter and Marianne Halbsgut, Irmela Kohlsdorf, Saartjie v d Merwe, Hans v Ameyde, Fred v Berkel, Wolf Schneider, Dave Barnes (meet leader)

Thanks to Nicky v Berkel who took the group picture at the start but did not join the hike, engaged on a botany excursion.
Thanks to Fred v Berkel for supplementary pics.
The hike starts at Jubilee Creek and proceeds along the Outeniqua trail in the reverse direction. The initial part is through magnificent indigenous forest, unaffected by the fires which raged through the area.

Once we exited the indigenous area after about 4,5 kilometres and reached the former plantations the devastation was plain to see. There is ingress of aliens, quick to exploit the opportunity resulting from the fire damage.

Some of the logs placed on the pathway to control erosion have been reduced to charcoal. It is also evident that relatively few hikers have made use of this section of the trail between the Platbos and Millwood huts.

The Homtini was flowing strongly, so none of the party made the crossing using the fixed rope. We decided to have a lunch break on the eastern bank. Fortunately, it is possible to access a pool from this bank, and three of the party braved the cool water.

At the conclusion of the hike back at Millwood, some of the party stayed on at the picnic site for a braai. It was most enjoyable in warm sunshine, the first of the day.
The hike distance was just over 14 km.

Dave Barnes – meet leader

Towerkop with its cleft peak, as seen from the R62 on route from Barrydale to Ladismith in the Klein Karoo is a characteristic landmark. At 2189 m it stands higher as an obvious peak in the Klein Swartberg ridge line. Legend says a witch (tower) waved her wand and cleft the peak. It does feel somewhat haunted when you stand at the base of the peak itself – especially in the howling wind and swirling mist!

Climbing the actual peak has been popular amongst rock climbers, who normally overnight in Nel’s Cave in the cliffs forming the base of the peak.

The object of this trip was to camp out at the base camp/ tin shelter about halfway up the mountain. From here to experience the mystery of the mountain and enjoy the spectacular rocks which lie, perched or rolled all around you.

Access and permits.
The trail starts from the farm at Bo-Buffleskloof on the R103 outside Ladismith. As of 2019, in order to undertake this trail, there is a new system in place. The MCSA is a part owner in the property and bookings need to be made through Jan Viljoen / convener of all the Towerkop area properties.

Visit this web page above for details.

The Hiking party:
4 girls- Ruth Powell, Elna van der Walt, Mari Swart (guest) and Evie Bowen (meet leader); while only one guy dared to join in – Tony Bowen.

The Weather:
For an overnight stay in the high Swartberg where snow can fall at any time of year, accessing a good weather forecast is highly recommended. The weather did seem rather unsettled for the weekend. Always a tough call for the meet leader. A cold front with good rains for the winelands was on its way. Would this front continue into the Swartberg, or dash off to the south and dump most of the remaining rain in the sea?? In these current drought conditions of the past year this seems to be the norm.

Good weather sites are: –
https://www.yr.no/place/South_Africa/Western_Cape and

It seemed the forecast was for gale-force winds, some rain during Friday night, some cloud on Saturday, and the possibility of a 2nd front to arrive by Monday with snow on the high peaks! Thus … all being good, I decided to go ahead with the outing – needless to say, a few members cancelled due to weather or other commitments.

The hike details:
Friday – we started from the farm parking and hiked up to set up our camp for 2 nights at the base camp / Tin Shelter at 1425 m – 4-hour hike with packs, about 800 m of assent and 6 km.
Saturday – we hiked up through the various rocky sections which involve a scramble here and there, to reach Nel’s Cave at 1989 m and return to the campsite by the same way. This hike took about 3 hours up and included 560 m of ascent and distance of about 2.5 km.
Sunday – return to our cars at the start – leisurely 3.5hours, mostly downhill.

Our weekend:
We set off from the cars. Filled water bottles and approached our first hurdle. A locked gate.

With what seemed like very clumsy, heavy packs, we puffed our way up to the first ridgeline, and then on to the second. Despite very hot sunny October weather we were soon cooled off on higher ground by exceptionally strong gusting north westerly winds. In the camp getting our tents erected was a serious swearing event. Peg no 1 + guy rope + gale force wind = no progress!! Added to the wind, any ground is virtually absent, just rock upon rock.  Eventually almost all the guy ropes were fastened around rocks.

Elna, with a very small tent managed to wedge hers in a wind free spot between boulders, while clever Mari gave up on the wind, and pitched her inner tent in the shelter. Luckily still enough space in the tin shed for us all to cook our meal in wind free conditions. The shelter is so much cleaner and orderly compared to my last visit 2 years ago. I guess this may be as a result of our new convener in the area: Jan Viljoen.

The wind howled all night. Did I hear Macbeth’s 3 witches cry? During the night lovely to hear some rain on this dry landscape. Somehow, I think some of us slept. Tony & I, as well as Ruth managed to squeeze our bodies between the numerous heavy clumps of Restio plants under the ground sheet -which meant having to maintain an “S-bend” sleeping position for the entire night.

The next day cloud and drizzle. Hmm – should we all sleep a little longer! Eventually we set off. Finding the path was
relatively straight forward. We did however add the odd rock to some of the flattened cairns – in case of returning in even thicker mist.

Nel’s cave is a special experience. Sadly, no views out today, and we decided therefore not to do our full traverse.

We descended and eventually the clouds began to break up and warmer temperatures returned.

The vegetation is back, after a fire 3.5 years ago. It was all blackness during our SC MCSA visit in Sept 2017.

These tall white “pom- pom” flowers (Lachnaea pomposa) were quite distinctive and abundant on the higher slopes – while new fluffy Protea seedlings emerge all over.

Back at the camp – we were able to enjoy a very “quick dip and a few yells” in the icy river.
Later a wonderful evening outdoors, cooking and chatting as only 4 girls can, while watching the rosy skies fading in the west.

On our last day – Sunday the weather was perfect and after a slow break of camp, we returned to the start at around midday.

We all had a super weekend. My thanks to all the hikers – for so enjoying themselves and being completely delighted and awed by the majestic surroundings.

Many thanks for the pictures which we shared on our “WhatsApp’ group.

Evie Bowen – meet leader

Clive and Sandy Louw, Barbara Raubenheimer, Wendy Thompson, Geoff and Lorraine Ditchfield, Jude Cobern, Joan Louwrens, Fred v Berkel and Dave Barnes (meet leader).

The hike started in town where we met, and proceeded eastwards, then up the hill to our first stop at the paragliding site which was unusually deserted on a Saturday due to the unfavourable wind direction.

We stopped for a picture near Cloud Nine, with Cradock peak in the background.

Then down to Willow Point, site of Outward Bound camps, and along the lakeside.

On reaching the disused railway track we found it overgrown and decided to head across the N2, past the market and along the lake back to the start.

Good cool weather for the hike.
Most of the party met afterwards for a braai at Dave and Margie’s.
Distance was 14.3 km with 190 metres ascent. Walking time was just under 4 hours.

Dave Barnes – meet leader



The Swellendam trail has been on my list of trails to do for years. The trail was first opened in 1980. In 2012 a fire destroyed the paths and the hut at Boskloof. The trail is now open and back in frequent use again. The hut at Boskloof has been replaced with two corrugated iron structures.

The group: Ed Kay-Shuttleworth, Karin van Niekerk (leader), Clive Louw, Greg and Cheryl Devine, Maretha Alant, Tony and Evie Bowen. In front: Jacolise Joubert and Sandy Louw.

Day 1 (14.72 km) is the longest day on the hike. We set off early, just after 7.30 am. According to Clive’s GPS our ascent for the day was 1100 m and distance 14.72 km (thanks Ed!). We frequently crossed streams and filled up water bottles and cooled down.

The average day temperatures were in the low 30 degrees for most of the hike, with the middle day at 34. We aimed for early starts every day to have some cool walking.

The hut that burned down has been replaced with two corrugated iron shelters and composting loos. Everyone had a splash, soak, or wash in the stream. On climbing out of the valley the next morning we noticed the very large pool above the hut that we all missed! Next time…..

The first night was a quiet affair, everyone tired and in bed early.

The corrugated iron shelters at Boskloof

Day 2: (10.08 km)
The trail passes across Goedgeloofnek (after about 7 km) before descending to the huts at Goedgeloof. This nek gives access to a ridge leading to Misty Point – a peak at 1710 m (one of the highest in the Langeberg), Arangieskop at 1700 m. The highest peak is Keeromsberg at 2075 m above Worcester.

After discussions with Derek Odendaal, Clive and Ed planned to take a 4-hour detour from the nek to get to Misty Point, weather permitting. They set out at first light. The rest of us left at around seven. Very clear skies and perfect weather for the peak detour. Tony, Evie, Jacolise and Maretha did a part of the ridge scramble and turned back after about 45 minutes. On Ed’s video you can see the very rocky, boulder scrambling towards the point.

Hiking along Drosterpas out of the valley above Boskloof.

Looking east along the Langeberg.

Lunch in the shade, below Goedgeloof nek.

Goedgeloof huts are stone cottages. We were happy to have cold showers after a long, hot descent. Ed and Clive arrived around 5 pm. Happy with their peak.

Supper at Goedgeloof

Day 3 (9.44 km) – hiking From Goedgeloof hut over Warmwaternek into protea valley.
The hottest day of the hike. We were glad to get to the hut and out of the sun by lunch time. We spent the afternoon relaxing. There is a small stream and most hikers had a splash in a shallow pool.

Protea valley – looking east towards Misty Point.

Sunrise over Misty Point – from Protea valley hut.

Day 4 – 7.36 km
The shortest day, after a short ascent to a nek, the trail descends all the way down to Wolfkloof hut at the foot of the Langeberg.

Halfway down, mist made for a cooler day in the fynbos.

At Wolfkloof hut beautiful pools called for a swim.

Another view northeast towards Protea valley and Misty point.

Day 5 – 10.72 km
As usual the day starts with a steep ascent out of the valley. Then the path contours along until you reach Marloth Reserve.

Some hikers left at 6 am to get back home for various commitments. The rest of us had a leisurely walk out, followed by cold showers at the cars and lunch in Swellendam.

A truly great walk in the mountains.
Pristine and beautiful fynbos, endless views and wilderness.
I heard murmurs of “when are we doing it again?” as we were leaving.
Thanks to everyone who participated and made it such an enjoyable and memorable hike.

Karin van Niekerk – meet leader


This hike was squeezed in at fairly short notice mainly for Gillian’s benefit, before she returned to work in the UK. From ten days before the hike it was apparent that the weather was not going to play along, with promises of up to 70mm of much needed rain. The weather reports in the following days fluctuated considerably and eventually I decided that Sunday the 29th was too risky, but Saturday the 28th looked acceptable.

The undeterred hikers were Greg & Janet Moore, Mike & Hillary Appelgryn, Tony & Evie Bowen, Gillian Forbes and Ed & James Kay Shuttleworth.

The weather was pleasant for hiking with a high overcast and a stiff south-east breeze that had a bit of a bite.

The route follows the Attakwaskloof trail to a neck and then strikes straight up the ridge.

We stopped for refreshments in a perfect wind shadow with the next peak looming above.

And pushed on, down to all fours in places.

But then things deteriorated. By this point we had climbed nearly 800m and had about 160m of climb still to go, but we were just about to reach a point where we could easily descend down to the Attakwaskloof pass below, so better sense dictated that we take it.

As we looked back, we could see the clouds, preceding the rain later.
A very enjoyable hike of 12km and 800m climb.

Greg Moore – meet leader



Blood, sweat and fears

Hiking off-trail in the Swartberg can sometimes be okay and sometimes extreme. I had my sight on the beautiful Kangoberg area for some time and worked out a probable achievable traverse route from Kruisrivier to Groenfontein (this is in the area between the Swartberg Pass and Calitzdorp). The best map and Google Earth images can’t show you everything, and leaves one with an adventure on hand. Potential participants were well aware of this.

Twelve brave souls turned up for the meet as we gathered at the Kruisrivier Guest Farm’s camping site on Friday afternoon. Derek Odendaal, Clive Louw, Ed Kay-Shuttleworth, Greg and Cheryl Devine, Maretha Alant, Werner Frei, Johan Huisamen, Elna van der Walt and guests Clifton and Annalet Donald, Mari Swart and Milo (see the note at the end of the report).

Saturday was a perfectly clear day and we set off from the camp site following the Kruisrivier valley into the Swartberg. After a few kilo’s of easy walking, we went off-trail and ascended the slopes up to a height of about 1050 m asl. Our traverse to the west followed this height (more or less) along a wide terrace on the mountain slopes. Kangoberg and some of the other peaks still towered almost 1000 m above us. The scenery was great.

The vegetation was still low and relatively open after the fire of about 2½ years ago, so we made good progress. Then we reached the first deep kloof to cross (there were actually two close to one another). It was steep down and up again, with thick vegetation, but not too bad after all. At the bottom of the first one, we crawled in underneath some bushes and trees to get some shade for our lunch break. It was quite hot by now, due to a berg wind.

We continued on our route amidst a rising temperature, so the odd shady spot was welcomed. At about 3 pm we arrived at the second deep kloof to be crossed. I knew beforehand this one was more than 100 m deep, very steep and could stop us from going further. We also needed the water which was flowing down there….. Werner and I first went down the steep slope to see if we could reach the bottom. I was relieved to see it was possible. But going up the opposite slope looked rather challenging, if possible. But I believed we could get up, without risking our lives.

Going down with a pack was difficult, rough, uncomfortable and hot. Most of us were bleeding somewhere when we reached the bottom – even Milo. But we got down safely and welcomed the shade and cool water! Our planned camping spot was now close by. But we still had to get out of the kloof and we were all tired by then. Going up was very steep, rough and slow, but we also survived that. Soon we arrived at our camping spot (with water close by) and could pitch our tents with a wonderful view of the Swartberg peaks. I was delighted that we could reach this spot and I celebrated it with some whisky – Bains Mountain whisky.

The next day was cloudy and grey – even misty at times. We continued along our traverse and I knew there were no more serious obstacles. Further on we just had to get down the mountain along an unknown ridge. For most of the way it was rather gradual, but the last 200 m descent was rough, steep and rocky. We were all glad when we reached the floor of the Groenfontein valley. The last few kilometers to where we left two vehicles on Friday, passed quickly.

I was fortunate that I had a group of tough hikers for this rough traverse. And I was very thankful that no-one got injured along the way. Above all: everybody enjoyed this “Derek Special”! What a group!

Milo is a golden Labrador, owned by the people at Kruisfontein. He likes the campers and the food they give him. He also likes walking with people – but he didn’t know what he was in for when he joined our hike on Saturday morning! He cheerfully ran along, sniffing around and enjoying himself. Eventually we realised we will not get rid of him – even after Johan turned back late morning (as was his plan) and lured the dog along with him with a fair amount of biltong.

Eventually Milo did the entire traverse with us. He is a tough dog with tough paws and athletic abilities, although we had to assist him here and there going up the steep slopes. He loves swimming and polluted every stream we came across (because he always arrived first). He also bled after going through that rough kloof, and was very tired that evening. He eats everything, even egg shells, vegetables, chicken bryani, Post Toasties and dried fruit. Or did the exercise just made him that hungry? But he has good manners and was never a nuisance. No wonder his owner was very glad to see him again on Sunday afternoon. What a dog!

Derek Odendaal – meet leader


Rain, Rock & Re-learning

On a clear day I can see the Langeberg mountains from where I live in Stilbaai. There is a prominent pointed peak  almost due north, forming part of the Paardeberg mountain. This peak has fascinated me for the last two years and I wanted to stand on its’ summit…..

This meet was the second to be held in this beautiful area. Romanskraal is a large farm in the Langeberg near Albertinia, ownen by an ex-MCSA member. On both sides of the farm lies nature reserves under the management of CapeNature.

Twelve people turned up for the meet: Derek and Jacomi Odendaal, Tony and Evie Bowen, Clive Louw, Werner Frei, Ed Kay-Shuttleworth, Karin van Niekerk, Gillian Forbes, Elna van der Walt, Dennis Lange (Cpt section), Derine Louw (guest). Brian du Preez joined us only on the first day for botanic observations.

We started off in good weather and headed off into the mountains via an old jeep track. After some 3 km, we divided into two groups: some going east to our base camp spot; others going west to explore an unfamiliar valley. The explorers soon went off-road and had to tolerate rough underfoot conditions. We set up camp in a wide basin, surrounded by impressive mountain walls and peaks. The rain came down during the night. Some discovered that their tents were not rainproof any more….

The next day we walked back the way we came, and further to the east to join up with the others at our base camp. But the rain began to fall again just before we started walking and continued for two hours (with wind). Not nice! According to the weather forecast, the rain should have stopped at 9 am, but it continued to fall at intervals until late afternoon.

The next day was peak day. Fortunately it was a lovely clear day and stayed that way for the whole day. Eight of us set out to scale the pointed peak on Paardeberg, some 900 m up from the camp. I could not find out whether this peak (which I named Paardeberg Spitz) has been climbed before or if it is possible to get to the summit. We soon went off-road again and worked our way up a rough and rocky ridge. In places we had to support one another to get up (and especially to get down again later).

By mid-day we reached the base of the Spitz. The last part towards the summit was along a knifeedge ridge, while  the peak looked even more intimidating from up close. On the right-hand side was a sheer drop of hundreds of meters, and you had to keep yourself focussed. Soon we came to a rock band that was too dangerous to ascend without proper climbing equipment. And there was no way around it. We had to retreat.

Even though we could not climb the Spitz, it was a wonderful adventurous day out in the beautiful Langeberg. There is still more to explore in this area, and we’ll be back!

The last day greeted us with thick clouds again, and a light drizzle accompanied us on our way back to the cars. We visited a cave with nice San paintings along the way.

This trip taught many of us a (renewed) lesson on equipment failure: older tents and backpacks are not waterproof any more; a rain poncho is worthless in windy conditions; a good raincoat/jacket is essential (the weather forecast can be wrong); always wrap your sleeping bag in a plastic bag (you might lose your backpack raincover along the way).

It was a wonderful few days in the mountains. But all the weather websites got it wrong!

Derek Odendaal – meet leader

Hikers who participated:
Cheryl & Greg Devine, Greg and Janet Moore, Wolf Schneider, Tony and Evie Bowen, Gillian Forbes, Tannje Strauss, Mike and Hillary Appelgryn, Sanet Meersbergen and visitor Erna, Barbara Raubenheimer and visitor Gerhard, Gonny Houtsma, Bruno and Ulrike Baldzuhn, Marianne and Peter Halbsgut, and visitor Sarahjane Tierney.

Hike duration: a “there and back hike” – we took a leisurely 5 hours including stops. The hike started at around 9.30 am and we finished by 13.30.

Hike distance and Grade: about 10 km – grade 2 for most of the trail, while some grade 2+ for the peak itself.

Trail Condition: the path from the “Hop farm” in Herold, leading up through Camferskloof and up to the neck is in good condition and an easy path to follow. The Peak section has a rudimentary path. It is easy enough to find one’s way to the top.

Climbing up to the peak, although it looks straight forward from here, does involve some exposed spots and a few scrambles over rocks.

Hike statistics: Our total assent for the day was about 450 m.

Trail Condition: Good, despite fires 8 months ago – easy to follow path. Currently there is no water in either of the 2 small streams crossed on the hike. This is a typical condition of the Outeniqua mountains in 2019 – during which time the rains have seemingly dried out – any cloud and rain formation heads straight out to sea. Luckily though the fynbos vegetation has shown some recovery from the fires of late Oct 2018, at least we were able to enjoy some pretty spring bulbs and flowers shining here and there.

Access and permits: Self issue permits are available at the Witfontein office.

Hike description: From our meeting place at the edge of George we drove to the Hop Farm “Burnsleigh” in Herold. Plenty of space for parking. This where the hike starts.

Along the way – time for a short break.

Some are drinking, the girls are possibly quoting limericks (as a result of our visitor Sarahjane, “visiting all the way from Limerick in Ireland”).

While perhaps the guys are engrossed in discussing Africa’s role in the 4th industrial revolution.

And conversations continue as we gain in the upward direction.

After reaching the saddle at the Camfers valley head, taking in the views back to George and the sea we start our rocky peak ascent.

From Peak Ten67 – two opposing views.

What’s in a name? Well, Peak Ten67 stands at 1 067 meters above sea level. A particularly rewarding peak – easy access and spectacular views in all directions of our very special southern Cape Outeniqua Mountains.

To end: An event not to be missed.

The best pizzas in the Outeniquas – only available in Waboomskraal and made for us with perfection and speed by Bobby and Ria. Large quantities of ginger beer were also consumed – an indication that today is Sunday here in the Southern Cape!

Many thanks to all the hikers who joined me on this wonderful Sunday’s outing in the Outeniquas. Also, thanks to both Sanet and Hillary who provided some extra photos for this report.

Evie Bowen – meet leader


Hikers: – Ruth Powell, Tanjje Straus, Wolf Schneider, Werner Frei, Gillian Forbes, Norman Cooper, Greg and Janet Moore, Greg and Cheryl Devine, Peter and Marianne Halbsgut, Fred and Nicky van Berkel, Tony and Evie Bowen.
Temp members for the day: – Sarahjane Tierney, (guest of Dave Barnes) Tim Scanlin (guest of Norman Cooper).
New (applicant) members: Attie and Ria Cilliers.
Meet leader: Dave Barnes

Thanks to the Monate housing estate security who allow members of our club to access the coastal path which leads from Herold’s Bay eastwards to the Oubaai golf estate.

The access from the Herold’s Bay beach is tricky at all but an exceptionally low tide and small swell.

A handy rope “bannister” has been installed at the only real obstacle where there is a steep descent to the beach just after leaving the Monate section of the hike.

The weather was much better than forecast, with a fresh breeze and sunny patches, making for an enjoyable outing.

This time we had our lunch stop at the smaller and newer deck on the Oubaai property, as the larger one is being upgraded.

I looked at the notes I made after doing this hike in 2011 and can only conclude that in the interim there must have been a slow and unrecorded shift in the curvature of the earth crust along this particular coastal path. It does appear that the ups have become steeper, and the downs shorter. What is even more of a puzzle is that this strange development occurs in both the easterly and westerly directions, leaving one feeling quite aghast.

Thanks to Wolf Schneider, Nicky and Fred van Berkel for pictures.

Dave Barnes – meet leader

Mountain Club of South Africa