Lipstick & Gears

Life is pretty much about the company you keep and being a girl with an inclination to have a passion for adventure I find myself pretty much in the company of men. However, that has nothing to do with being boyish, as a matter of fact, I love being a girl, I have just inherited a passion for thrill seeking and risk-taking, it is pretty much ingrained in my genes.

Having said that, when I was invited by AKA Tours on the launch of their Motorcycle tour, I hesitated for a while, I have not been on a motorcycle for a good few years, even then that was more like a scooter!! How difficult could it be?? I spent about another 10 minutes thinking about it and then full-heartedly agreed!! Well here we go Rose, I thought to myself.

It was late afternoon when I arrived in Mosselbay and headed to offices of AKA Tours. Greeted by Bert and Jovanka with comforting smiles and warm hospitality. My tummy was doing somersaults though, eish, I thought and took a deep breath, this is going to be interesting. Bert introduced me to AKA 1 a Honda XR190CT adventure bike and even though small it still looked huge to me. With a gentle introduction I was soon on the bike and slowly the engrained grey matter started working , somewhere stored in my memory bank is a bike riding manual. In no time I was zipping around the building corners of the small industrial area. Ok, I was ready… right??

Dawn broke and the grey skies had a promise of a typical drizzly Garden Route morning. Let’s hope it clears. We rigged at AKA Tours HQ. Brian our other riding companion, I met the night before at route briefing, this made us 3 riders and a back up vehicle driven by Jovanka. We kitted up an took off in the direction of Great Brak.. the open road was calling..

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Day 1
Mosselbay to a Hartebeespost Guest House, which was situated on the edge of the Baviaan’s judt outside Uniondale. 252km to go. Our first stop was for breakfast at the Peperboom in Geart Brak, only 25 km down the line, but it was a good intro session for me. I relished in the warm coffee and tasty breakfast this early as it was a wetish morning and the rain still hasn’t disapated completely.

The short break made me a little more at ease with things before hopping back on the bike and heading to George, the countryside swept past us and the air was filled with the smells of farm life, dairy farms, fields with green wheat sprouting and the pepper smell of grass that is so fimiliar to me.

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By the time we hit the first section of 7 passes road between George and Wilderness, the curves became a journey of natural forest and bubbling streams that crossed over yesteryear bridges and it oozed timeless antiquity. Here we stopped to listen to the whispers of time gone by and take in your natural surroundings, even if it was for just a moment.

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We wound our way down to the coastal section of the Garden Route before turning to edge our way along the foothills of the Outeniqua Mountains. This part of the world is filled with forest, farmlands and the odd little stop over. The next 56km felt like a mysterious journey. You can’t help imagining what it must have been like to have build this road, the path the elephants walked. Each section in perfect balance with nature as we swept though this section with ease.

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Knysna, our second stop for the day. The skies have cleared a bit and our visit to the alluring motorcycle room is a welcome break, remenesing through the old machines and reliving my miss spent youth. We snacked and chatted a while before remounting the bikes and headed for the most historical section of the Knysna forest.

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By now I was super excited to actually experience the next section of history on a motorbike, somehow the feel of it was different, more open and more in touch with the outdoors. The beauty fills your being, you slow down and take in the green world around you. It’s here among the trees that most of the areas history was made, it relives in your soul and you can feel it. The return of the soft drizzle was a cool welcoming feeling while we navigated our way to the top of the Prince Alfred’s pass, the end of the days treking was near. We entered the Karoo through the town of Uniondale and a warm breeze with the whiff for Karoo bossie welcomed us to the hardy entrance of the Baviaans. It was time to rest our weary bodies, in my minds eye the days happenings played itself over and over again, overwhelmed by excitement, adrenaline and nostalgia, I smiled to myself before closing my eyes. Today was a great day!!

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Day 2

Waking to the soft light filtering through the window and the sounds of vast plains of the Karoo was a pleasurable moment. I stretched out like a farm cat before leaping out of bed. Coffee was the first thing on my mind. A misty dawn greeted me. What will today hold? Breakfast, kitup and ride was the oder and willingly I mounted the little Honda, come baby lets go and explore!! The spirit of adventure was high and road was calling. Zipping past the sheep farms and open veld only to stop to take in the views of the Karoo dynamics

It was the entering of the Baviaans left my with eerie anticipation. Almost like having something that is untouched in front of you and the burning sensation of reaching out and being the first. It causes havoc with your soul! The steep inclines, sharp corners and stone walled channels engulfs you and you can’t help feeling surrounded by mother earth and all you can do is surrender to its magnificence. Slowly we dropped into the valley while staring at every picturesque elevation that towered above us.

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Our afternoon break was at a place called ” Uitspan“. Being in the company of curious adventurous we went of to explore the kloof, clambering over rocks and satisfiying our wanderlust for nature. With laughter and smiles we discovered the cool wanders of this little hidden gem before feeding our hungry stomachs that by now was threatening suicide. Who new that there were places like these?

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Heading back to the farm house the Karoo sky changed into picturesque landscape of cloudious wonder and we marvelled at it until the promised thunder storm closed in and we were left with glorious rain and lighting display. We gathered round the huge table of our abode and replayed the days expidition with easy conversation and a beer. Tomorrow our adventure ends, but not until we take on the Klein Karoo.

Day 3.

Day breaks with the promise of clear skies and we gear up for the ride. I look back as we leave, saddened by the idea of leaving, but all good things need to end and with the journey home still ahead I focus on our new discoveries ahead of us.

First stop is Uniondale, we refuel the bikes and enjoy the countryside hospitality of a small cafe. The freshly brewed coffee slips down with ease and we are now ready to rock the back roads of Klein Karoo and its ostrich farmers.

We entered via Potjiesberg pass and wound our way through orchards farms. The landscape flattened out and the home of the ostrich became more imminent. Miles of them, running along the fences, racing with us while their odd formed bodies makes it seem like a huge waddle, all while prancing their feathers as if they knew we were looking.

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We reach the hamlet of Herold as we exit the into the Langkloof, a quick tea break is due to wash down the road dust and replenish our souls. Now the Montagu Pass lied ahead, the last of the winding passes of our adventurous excursion. It’s here that riding became a skill for me as it plumited down to the rivers. Not to be outdone by the other alluring roads, this Pass must be the most classical of them all. With its stoned walled edging it offers the most attractive historical ride and once again we are charmed by its old fashioned bridges and road building.

A visit to a rocky stream, a timeless bridge and the old Toll House that was used in times gone by was inevitable. Satisfied by our little explorations we neared the end of the road and made our way back to Mosselbay.

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I parked my motorbike, took in a deep breath of air and savoured the moment. Reluctantly I dismounted the little Honda with utter pride. I’ve done it!! 545km later the euphoria of what just happened over took me and I was in awe. Who ever knew that I would be part of such an epic journey and live to tell the story. It was one hell of a ride and definitely a bucket list adventure…

Thank you African Karoo Adventures for including me in your shared love.

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Tips for riding like a girl.

1. Wear comfy underwear. Yes I mean full briefs

2. Nothing wrong with a bit of zambuk or lip-ice

3. A cotton scarf, it’s cooler than a buff

4. Leave those funky shades at home and opt for lightweight pair.

5. A good pair of hiking boots is wonderful

6. Forget about being stylish. Easy hair ties and Sun cream is the best. Pack light.

7. Comfy T’s are great. It gets hot under that riding gear

8. A good pair of gloves if you have.

9. A cell phone camera is your best friend

10. Lastly enjoy every moment. Be sensible and keep your wits about you

Enjoy the Ride!!

The Water that Became Stone.

It’s 200 million years ago and earth is moving, cracking and shaping its way out of the Pangaea super continent. Slowly but surely water seeps in the earths new crevases, hollowing the soft stone and forming the water filled caves of the earth. But the new mystery lies quietly below for few more million years before the forces of nature rips and tears into her rock formations.

It’s now 4 million years ago and slowly the earths liquid dissipates and leaves the empty cavities exposed to the air for the first time, it’s now that the mineral formations start to grow, graciously turning the dripping water into stone…

The Cango Caves has been known to modern man for a couple century now and as a tourist entering a space that has only been familiar to us in such a short period of time the magnitude barely sinks in.

The mystery of these interlinking chambers of limestone and dolomite has left us wondering about these hollow spaces ever since. It holds some of the most spectacular limestone dripping formations and crystals known to mankind.

South Africa’s numerous limestone and dolomite areas was suitable for what is called karst development, which is a topography formed from the dissolution of soluble rocks such as limestone, dolomite, and gypsum and is characterized by underground drainage systems with sinkholes and caves.

Dripstone Caverns
These ancient rocks are among the oldest known on Earth and the Precambrian rocks of South Africa are the oldest formation of this considerable size. Imagine that!!

Our very own Cango Caves is edged deep underground in the Swartberg Mountian folds and is most likely the best explored karst and our premier cave in South Africa. It’s also known as the longest cave formation of its kind.

Undiscovered by humans the cave was occupied animals only until about 10,000 years ago before it was discovered by the Khoisan which used the entrance area as a shelter. It seems that they didn’t explore deeper into the cave as it was said that the believes were that the place was filled with spirits and other unknown dwellers.

But today we are privileged to be able to simply get into our vehicles and drive to these magnificent stuctures, buy a ticket and glimpse into a world that we merely see a tiny millisecond of. Take some time to absorb the space that you move in and let your guide whisper a few secrets of it past.

For more information visit:

www.cangocaves.co.za

Hints and tips:

1. Wear comfort shoes

2. Take a camera of cell phone for pictures

3. Watch the video in the room on the 2nd floor.

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”

The love and legend of the Pansy Shell

It has been told that there once was a young sailor that tried to sail across the vast ocean alone. On his crossing he encountered a storm and feared for his life after the boat capsized and found himself drifting alone. Eventually he lost consciousness and it seemed that death was imminent. The young man woke the next morning on a beach of golden sand with the voice of what sounded like an angel in the distance. The first thing he noticed was the pansy shells lying next to his side, gently picking up the delicate form and staring at it wonder. He then raised his head towards the horizon just to see the most beautiful form of what seemed like a woman, with long flowing hair and features that were human but also fierce. She disappeared under the surface of the blue ocean only to return each morning with a gift from the sea. She never came near enough for him to encounter and she would simply slip away into the waters if he approached. He stayed on the small island until rescued by a passing ship and left the island almost broken hearted with only the small pansy to remind him of her…
Once upon the shores of his own country he would often wander along the beach and low and behold there was always a pansy shell waiting for him somewhere. So if you pick up this beautiful shell, know that there is love out there looking for you.
Written by Travelbug Rose Blogger
Book a romantic weekend
www.exploreknysna.com
#Knysna #gardenroute #meetsouthafrica

The Sphinx of Sedgefield

The 1km stretch to Gericke’s Point

Not only are these impressive fossilized dunes South Africa’s highest vegetated fossil dunes but they are the most remarkable looking rockscapes in Southern Africa as they jagged their way along the Garden Route, stretching between the Kaaimans and Brenton on Sea.

The stretch from Wilderness to Gericke’s Point

Gericke’s Point or the “Sphinx” as it’s known to us, is situated in Sedgefield and the striking accumulation of solidified sand stretches into the ocean to create an intricate reef structure with rock pools and sharp ridge protrusions where many a fishermen or spear fishermen bide their time waiting patiently for the most impressive catch of the day to pass through.

Many a rock pool has been formed by these jagged edged formations

It’s here you’ll find the beach amblers lazily meandering their way along this stretch of rock and sand, at low tide, to fill their curiosity, day dream or just escape the pressures of life and breathe in the salty air of the Indian Ocean as it works its way to shore.

Looking back towards Sedgefield and Swartvlei beach

To the right of the Sphinx formation is a surfing spot frequented by the odd surfer that walks the mere 1km stretch from Swartvlei beach to catch that special breaker pushing its way to the rugged shore line.

Here they play among the wild and untamed watery ways of the sea just for the exceptional moment of catching the ultimate wave that will give them the thrilling adventure they have been waiting for all day.

I watch as they bob, paddle, surf and tumble in the unruly ocean waters just to do it all over again. In between they are visited by the odd local water dwellers that zip past or hang for a while.

These creatures are as entertaining as the rubberized board sitters and way more advanced in ocean manoeuvres and you can’t help giggling at the ease of their gliding motions as they pass the splashing arms and legs of their land counterparts.

But in the end they have to part ways and the human sapiens have to leave behind the rolling and tumbling of the right point break and head back to the earthy soil and familiar ground.

Strolling back to the car park I cross more rock pools reflecting the cloudy sky of the the Southern Cape in the late afternoon, I look back and admire a few more impressive looking rocks before leaving behind the rusty looking Sphinx and its ocean mysteries only to return on another day.

#Sedgefield #gardenroute #meetsouthafrica

www.exploreknysna.com

Lotus weavers of Cambodia

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bb3RRAYhhCO/ While in Siem Reap, Cambodia on a cycling outing one day I came across this little spot. I was aware that the weaving of silk is a popular practice here, but I had no idea that they wove this chamie like fabrics our of the stems of the Lotus flowers.

Altought I was near the Tonlé Sap lake the Lotus fiber weaving takes place in Cambodia on the spectacular giant lake of Kamping Poy near Battambang.

It’s here, they farm all during the year from generation to generation in order to extract and sell the seeds.

The Lotus (nelumbo nucifer) is on a aquatic perennial which spreads for thousand hectares in Cambodia. The pink and white flowers are sacred in certain parts of Asia and you can see why.

Their beauty is delicate and seems to be almost porcelain from a distance. This timeless tradition comes from Burma and was brought to Cambodia by Samatoa in 2009 and they developed the unique handmade process in order to make an exclusive fabric which could be commercialised and create many jobs in Cambodia.

The Samatoa then trained and educated underprivileged women living around the spectacular lotus lake of Kamping Poy near Battambang in Cambodia to relieve poverty after the rule of the Khmer Rouge.

The lotus fabric is 100% ecological, natural and renewable and just absolutely exquist.

Find out more Lotus Farm

Insta My Knysna

Do I love where I live, absolutely!! The Knysna Region has so many facets.
It consists of oceans bliss, stretches of beach, vast lakes, country lifestyle, indigenous forests, rich culture, artisan foods and crazy adventures.
Take a walk with me into a world that has more to offer than the average place.

The Red bridge in Knysna This was the third bridge to span the Knysna River. It is situated further upstream on better founding conditions, as the previous bridge had been washed away in a flood in 1916. Designed by the PWD, this bridge is completely different in design to the earlier bridges with only two, long, 46m spans so as to prevent a recurrence of pier damage by flood debris. Construction of the foundations started in 1918 with the steelwork for the two riveted deck trusses, made in England, arriving by ship in 1922. The completed bridge, with a 3m wide roadway, was opened on 1 May 1923. It was succeeded in 1955 by the wider, concrete (White) bridge situated further downstream, but remained in use by local traffic until 1973. It was completely refurbished in 2014. www.exploreknysna.com #exploreknysna #gardenroute #HowzitSouthAfrica @instagram_sa

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For the love of the Garden Route

I have recently been asked what my favourite place in South Africa is to visit and why? It was easily answered; “The Garden Route of course”.

This might sound like cheating but living in the Garden Route of South Africa is an absolute privilege and I am constantly encouraging people to visit my alluring piece of Utopia.

Why do I love it so much. It’s simple really, from the long white beaches that strectches for miles, so much so that sometimes you never see another person, to the huge indigenous forest on the foothold of the mountain ranges that frames our coastline, the Garden Route offers more natural beauty and tranquillity than most destinations I have been to.

You have to go far to see the perfect sunset or sunrise, but not me, a mere walk to the end of the road were I live does that, not to mention the view points, water edges and bird hides, all waiting for you to capture that flawless moment when the sun merges with your horizon. Its not difficult to become a visual story teller as my life in pictures unfolds infront of me, everyday.

For the adventurous explorer in me, this is truly the natural playground I have been looking for and there is more often than not a leisurely hike, a forest or beach walk, a paddle on the river, an ocean excursion or a paragliding flight involved in my daily life.

Out there is fresh air to breathe, a place to clear your mind, to surrender yourself to nature and what she has to offer, all while taking in a new discovery everyday, yes everyday, for once you get take a deeper look, the magic starts happening.

Garden Route, You ask? Not only is it the greenest part of South Africa and constantly looks like an over grown garden but it has a foodie aspect too and almost every thing we savour comes from the coffers of our farmlands and oceans as our reputation for the food basket of South Africa is slowly proceeding us.

It’s here among the mountains that we grow, pick and harvest most of what we eat and quence our thrist with crafted drinks, from “Karrie” to craft beer. And many an artisan of food can be found in our farmers markets, farmstalls and earthy slow food restaurants.

A Saturday morning outing to the Wild Oats, Outeniqua or Harkerville Market is the shopping experience in my world of food and the odd baker, honey producer, mushroom picker, herb grower and the other plant and pluckers do the rest.

With this I invite you to step into my world. A place that has the most moderate climate on earth and indulge in its splendour and extraordinary resources and when you leave our shores, mountains and countryside, you will do so with a smile, only wishing to return….

Wilderness Accommodation

Explore Knysna Accommodation

The Pursuit of Wind and Water

The ocean has a way of inviting the adventurous, the risk taker and the adrenaline junkie. It pulls them in and moulds them into the sports freaks of the sea.

Some sail, some paddle some even venture into the depths, but the kite surfers expose themselves to the elements of water and wind. They bare their bodies to become the vessels, attach themselves to a kite sail and uses the forces to drive them.

You watch these mobile water adventurers as they sweep around waves and skim over the surface of this vast body of water we call the ocean and which in itself isn’t a kind force, dancing with the wind and mocking it with the glee on their faces.

Once done, they emerge from the ocean like little Neptune figures, dripping with the salty remains of the blue planet, smile endearingly at each other as they share their watery passion and there they will return!!

On foot in the Garden Route – Jubilee Creek

I often speak about hiking in the Garden Route, mostly because it is one of the most picturesque places to hike in. Day rambles, or even a couple of hours are quite doable in the area, just pop into a SANParks Office and collect a brochure of the region, it’s that simple. The walk I do most is Jubilee Creek, as it is my absolute favourite and more often than not I find myself wandering with a camera in hand and inspecting the trees, ferns and other little features the forest has to offer. The calming effect of this wandering about seems to clear your head and your mind seems less busy in these dense green spaces. Besides that, I indulge in the fresh air and drink water from the coca cola coloured streams along the way. The treat under foot on the soft rich earth always seem to smell the best in the early mornings and the leaves the greeneries glisten with pearl drops of moister captured in the breaking dawn. The Black Witch Hazel gathers and stores most of this moisture and they seem to burst of liveliness as they slowly disperse their fluid onto the forest floor the feed the roots of the trees and other plants in need of water. Not only is Jubilee Creek a beautiful forest hike but it is filled with history of a bit more than a century and a half ago. Reminiscence of the gold mining era can be witnessed along the way and you can’t help wondering what happened here in the forest all those year ago, but in time the forest has reclaimed its earth and filled it with a wealth of its own. The path cuts into the forest along a creek and the constant bubbling of water and birds are the only sounds that can be heard in and among the shrubs and branches. The 2.4 km section of the Outeniqua Hiking Trail ends up near a forest waterfall where you can cool down and relax for a while. Often, we remove our shoes and plonk our feet in the crisp cool water of this pool while admiring the surroundings of indigenous trees and lush ferns. The route doubles up on itself and you usually see things in a slightly different way when heading back. The sun breaking through the trees scattering its rays about the timber and florae is a feature that only the forest knows how to do well. The hike ends at a picnic spot next to the creek and is perfect if you wish to stay and indulge a bit longer in the forest environment. So next time you are out and about in Knysna head to Bibby’s Hoek on the foot hold of the Outeniqua Mountains for and exploration into the Goudveld Forest and discover why this area is loved so much and why many of the mysteries of the region are located here among the trees.

Part 1 – To “Hell” with a Donkey and a Pack

“The Red Stones hills of the Swartberg”
Groenfontein Farming

Every now and then I get asked to go on an adventure and I might add that they are normally a day out and about experiencing a path, a tree, a flight, a zip line or something like that, but nothing prepared me for this one! I am chuckling as I say
this as I never thought I would be this crazy. Unfit, still recovering from breaking my leg last year in a paragliding accident and under no circumstances prepared to hike at all, I agreed to do the Donkey Trail….oops?!?

But opportunities like this are few and far between that missing out on this one would just be bizarre. To top it all, I invited one of my best friends along to join me. “Hi Glenda, bring a backpack, a few warm items and hiking shoes, we are doing this trail into the Swartberg mountain range, it will be fun…” And with complete trust, she agreed.

We met up in Mossel Bay and then meandered our way through the back roads of the Klein Karoo. Our destination, Living Waters, is situated near a little dorpie called Calitzdorp. The dirt road that runs between there and Oudtshoorn is quite a spectacular little track and we romantically gazed upon Red Stone Hills, well-kept farms, old cottages and small communities of waving locals. Historically the Klein Karoo is a rather interesting place and we discussed the wealth created by ostrich feather industry, the Boer war and roosterkoek as we bided our time travelling along the dusty track.

Nearing the home of the Donkey Trail, that is neatly nestled in the Groenfontein valley on the foothold of the Swartberg Mountains, we found ourselves bouncing along a farm road that eventually led us to the old but restored country home of Erika, we had arrived.

Cottages
“The farm is filled with original Karoo cottage”

It was with an abundance of energy that a young man greeted us, with”Hello, are you Rose?” as he skipped down the stairs. “My name’s Andrew” said the tanned open-faced young gentleman in front of me. “Let me show you to your cottage, it’s John’s Cottage, further down the road” The cottage seems to slant as it is placed on the side of a hill overlooking the valley. The soft evening air of the Karoo greeted us on the small stoep. We took a moment to observe the view before listening intently to Andrew’s packing instructions in preparation for the next days’ travels. Glenda and I sifted through our luggage to find the perfect items to add to our day packs, adding water bottles, cameras and an overnight change of clothing for our stay in the mountains.

These tedious head-scratching decisions built up a thirst and we dropped everything and headed back to the Country Homestead for our briefing, a wise decision! Barging in through the kitchen door and eager to meet up with Erika and the rest of our party I happily received my first glass of wine and just relaxed with some chitter chatter in front of the fireplace, there seemed to be a buzz of excitement as we got to know our fellow hikers while lounging in the comfortable sofas.

A coal stove
“The Hearth’

Erika carefully outlined the hike and the rules and regulations of the area. There was that feeling of apprehension again as I realised that I have not done any fitness training for a while. I took a deep breath of air and looked around for some reassurance from the team travelling with us, and there seemed to be a comfortable air about, so I made a conscious decision that this would be one damn thing that I would definitely complete, no matter what! Later that evening, while munching away on the deliciously cooked dinner prepared by Johan, I realised that although I might crawl up a mountain at least I wouldn’t go hungry, hallelujah!

Dinner
“Farm style cooking”

Our mellow Karoo evening ended up in laughter as we were challenged to try and squeeze a note out of a Kudu horn. Instruments are definitely not my forte but making an ass out of myself obviously is, this I know now as the evening ended on a “High Note”! Still giggling Glenda and I headed back to our cottage later that evening leaving behind warm good night wishes and lingering smiles. I silently looked up at that mountain lurking in the distance and wondered “How the hell I am I going to get over that…?”

Ready to go
“Ready to take on the trail”

Morning broke, and we made a few last decisions about gear. A chill in the air had persisted through the night and we wrapped up warmly prior to making our way back to the homestead for breakfast. Nibbling on some fruit and dousing the inside of our bodies with warm coffee seemed to be in order before it was time to aim for the donkey kraal.

Buddy
“Each Donkey has his or her personal gear”

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I was eternally grateful to be relieved of the extra load by our long-eared companions Buddy and Zuma and I watched as they patiently stood their ground while being rigged for the long journey. The start kinda lingered in the air for a bit before Erika addressed us one last time and then reassuringly ended with: “Go to Hell” and we did…

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An interesting fact is that this trail is not a new one but one that has been journeyed by many residents from Gamkaskloof renamed the “Hell” after a stock inspector, Piet Botha entered it via the steep pass known as “die Leer” from the western side, he described it as being like Hell to get into the Kloof and the name stuck. The Donkey Trail was the re-opening of the earliest path used until 1962 when the first road was built into the Gamkaskloof. Many went via this path to trade goods, visit friends and family and even to go to school.

Fauna & Flora details
” Discussing the fauna & flora of the mountain region”

Whilst looking up I couldn’t help but have an overwhelming feeling of respect. Life is a breeze in comparison to back then, with this in mind I put my head down and started my climb of 15km up the second highest mountain in South Africa.

The rock-strewn outcrops of the mountain presented an interesting biosphere of plants, insects and animals and every now and then Andrew stopped and pointed out some of the finer details.

Donkey Rest
“The pace of the Donkey is an important aspect of the hike”
Resting and repacking
“Resting and readjusting the packs”
view over the valley
“The view while climbing the Swartberg Mountain”

The journey was a slow easy one with the slowest person, or Donkey, depending on the moment, setting the pace. The first 3 Hours of the trail was mostly a zig-zag climb up the side of the mountain before heading into a single track path, it then plummets into a gorge, this is where we dislodged our packs and enjoyed the cool spring water, lunch and a breather. The break presented exciting chatter about the landscape and I typically wondered how many souls have passed through it before us?

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Do not be mistaken, if I could hike this path backwards I would, as the views are breathtaking and you cannot help but stop and stare at the magnitude of mother nature and her endless panoramic beauty.

Donkey treats
“Donkey treats”

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During the final hours of the journey, we started to climb, yet again, over the curved escarpment. This led us onto a gentle steady slope before edging the dragons back up into the so-called teacup of the mountain saddle. It was tough and the constant climbing and fatigue of the day had set in, but one foot in front of the other gets you there. By now I was at the back of the pack and with guide Joel by my side we edged out the last of the mountain side step by step.

Dragons Back
“The final approach, into the teacup of the saddle”
trekking
“Looking back over the valley at my guide Joel before the final climb”

Bursting with joy that was mingled with exhaustion I reached the top, the smile on my face must have been the broadest it’s ever been, I made it! “Welcome to the top of the second highest mountain in South Africa”: said Andrew and put out his hand for me to shake it. “I don’t shake hands, but a kiss on the cheek will be fabulous thank you” I blurted out. We all laughed and made our way to the waiting others.

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It took us another 30 minutes before we reached base camp and the chill factor in the wind hadn’t changed much since we left that morning. I was convinced by now that it snowed the day before, the horizon was slowly sucking up the sunlight and we had to move briskly towards our camp and really was looking forward to exchanging my water bottle for a cup of coffee.

Moving tenaciously along the sunlit grassland I noticed the gentle change of the biosphere in our elevation, we were are surrounded by Pin Cushion Proteas and the Sugar Birds chirped out their screechy songs as they indulged in the nectar of these beautiful African flowers.

To the Camp
” Heading to the Camp, the last stretch “

It’s so gorgeous up there and it made the last footpath to camp a pleasure. The sight of a freshwater stream, tents poised on the rocky outcropped slopes and bustling camp sure was a welcoming sight. Sebastian handed me a cup of coffee and it was time to relax. My hands enfolded the rustic cup which I quickly brought to my lips and I literally let the warm liquid slide down my throat, this was pure bliss.20170926180110-01

Basecamp consisted of 4 parts; A Kitchen tent with an outlook, meal tent, sleeping tents and an outhouse with a view. This is all positioned within the angles of the rocky slopes and is accompanied by a cool mountain stream of crystal clear water which runs along the camp site. This cool source of water is used for drinking & swimming, but very much excluded swimming that night!

Camp site
“Our Camp in the rocky outcrops”

The sun set, the chill factor increased, it was a quick bird bath for us out of the small basin filled with hot water to wash off the excess sweat and clean the smelly bits, we splish-splashed our way with minimalistic effort and slipped into our warm gear. It felt good and we headed to the kitchen tent for supper.

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“Our little outhouse with a view”

With slight amusement I stared at the yummy warm pasta called “Pasta ala Boer” it was just the perfect way to end the day, hungry I wolfed down my food and the worms in my stomach clapped and cheered with each mouth full. I managed to wangle one more cup of java before being given a hot water bottle and sent to bed. We closed ourselves up between the four canvas walls of our tent and wriggled into our sleeping bags for a good night’s rest. The wind restlessly worked its way around our tent, pulling at the corners like a naughty child, noisily howling for all to hear, but we were safe and I closed my eyes and let the warmth seep into my bones, tomorrow will bring another day…

The Hell is waiting
“The view towards the valley called Hell”

to be continued…..

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