Description of route:

Kameelkop is a 2 day hiking trail, meandering through a mixture of Acasia Karoo thickets (Mimosa/ Soetdoring), Wild Olive (Olienhout), Kiepersol and Gwarrie bush.  There are also large stands of exotic invaders such as Bluegum and Popular trees.

 

Day 1 – 12km:

The trail runs from Rietfontein (an exceptionally majestic old sandstone farmhouse), in a south/eastern direction towards a towering “Inselberg”, known as “Die Banke”, or Makathi (the “Big One”in Southern Sotho).  The elevation at Rietfontein is 1520 meters and the trail climbs slowly (initially), and then precipitously up to 1850 meters at De Hoek Bluff.  The first few kilometers run through dense stands of Arcasia Karoo – below the Rietfontein Ridge (1620 m), and is a great birding area.  After 2 kilometers the trail comes out on top of the ridge – with great vistas of Warden’s Tower (1809 meters on the left hand side).  After about 3 km, the first point of interest occurs – “Gaudi’s Skilpad”, (deminisant of the famous “La Sagrada Familia” in Barcelona – where Gaudi used tortoise statuettes to anchor the pillars of the stunning “nativity façade”), using a little imagination of course.  15 meters to the right of Skilpad Rock is a flat outcrop which has an abandoned crested eagle nest, with a great view over a dolerite dyke (Slanghoek Valley) with the Makati massive/ De Hoek Bluff (1850m) in the background.  A further kilometer on the trail reaches “Pofadder Alley” – where a steep descent into Slanghoek Gorge via a narrow chute awaits the hiker.  An alternative route is available for the less adventurous (or more discerning) individual – by traveling 250 meters to the left, until a gentle cattle path takes one into the Gorge – following the path to the right once inside the gorge until linking up with the trail again.  The trail dips through a spruit before reaching a stand of Blue Gums on the left.  This is “Andy’s Afsaal I” – a shady glade for a short rest and very good birding – the beautiful Drakensberg Rock jumper and Fiscal Flycatchers among numerous other species.  The trail then climbs over a Hogsback ridge (1700metres), before reaching the next point of interest: “The Dinosaur Footprints” – which can be clearly seen in shebt or dolerite magma.  The trail then plunges down a precipitous incline to the bottom of the Dyke or floor or Slanghoek “Rift Valley” in all about 120 meters. Once out of the severely eroded floor or Slanghoek Valley the trail meanders through a beautifully wooded gorge in a southerly direction through the farm “Twyfelpoort”, before crossing the (S379 road between Ficksburg and Marquard.).  The trail passes a couple of dams (good birding), before climbing up a saddle towards the Makathi Massiv.  A fairly steep horseshoe incline takes the hiker up the north/easterly flank of De Hoek Bluff – firstly along the “Petit Balcon” – a 250/300 meter corridor with great views of Wardens Tower in the north, and Rietfontein far below.  Before reaching the top of De Hoek Bluff (1850 m), - challenging feature: “The Grand Balcon” can be accessed via a short circular ledge under the lip or brow of the bluff.  This is not for the fainthearted or vertigo sufferers. – but great photo op’s await those who venture along the balcon.  The trail then turn south/east along the flat top portion of De Hoek Bluff – before dropping down to De Hoek cottage at the trail end – which lies nestled in the top end of ‘Swawelkrans” valley.   Hot showers and a bath are available and a wonderful outdoors cold shower for the extra hot weather.

 

Day 2 – 11.7km:

Return route from De Hoek Cottage to Rietfontein.  On leaving De Hoek Cottage the trail immediately climbs steeply up to the highest point on the Makathi Massiv – the top of Kameelkop Rock is 1908 m.  The trail then plunges down the shoulder of the Makathi Massiv in a north-westerly direction.  After about 1.5 km a small dam is reached on the left (on the farm Nooitgedacht), and offers excellent birding as well.  The trail then crosses the gravel road and enters another farm “Skuilkrans” – after another couple of kilometers a large Blue Gum plantation is reached. (“Andy’s Afsaal II), offers deep shade for a brief rest. 
At the bottom of Skuilkrans the trail crosses the S379 road – turns north for a few kilometers, and then north-west until it re-enters Rietfontein.  Another stand of Blue Gums (“Andy’s Afsaal III”) awaits, but this time with a huge stand of willow’s in the back – in summer this area forms part of Rietfontein main dam and again great birding opportunities.  After another 1.5 km the trail crosses the Slanghoek Gorge again, and plunges to the bottom of the creek at “Ockert se Gat”, with numerous rock pools, where hikers can cool off virtually at any time of the year.  A flat homeward section of about 3 km’s then follows, meandering through mixed bush/grasslands before reaching Rietfontein homestead and the end of the trail (after approximately 4.5 to 5 hours).

 

Location:

  • 350 km from Johannesburg

 

Accommodation:

Klein Rietfontein Base:

  • Electricity;
  • Stove;
  • 2 bathrooms;
  • 4 bedrooms;
  • Lounge;
  • Fireplace.

Kitchen:

  • 2 plate gas stove;
  • Basic pots & pans;
  • Braai facilities and wood.

 

De Hoek Overnight:

  • Gas;
  • 8 people;
  • 2 Showers;
  • Bath.

Kitchen:

  • 2 plate gas stove;
  • Basic pots & pans;
  • Braai facilities and wood.

 

Pertinent Information:

  • Carry at least 2.5 - 3 liters water per person per day on trail.