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Carolina

 

Hikers will be pleasantly surprised at the diversity of terrain and flora on the Suikerboschfontein hiking trail.  The unexpected beauty of the Transvaal Highveld is very evident here and has been instrumental in making this one of the most (if not the most) popular private trails in South Africa.

 

The trails are situated on the escarpment, approximately 20 km northeast of Carolina on the farm Suikerboschfontein, which has been in the same family for nearly 100 years.  Part of this trail traverses the Paulina van Niekerk Private Nature Reserve.

 

Three unforgettable days await hikers - there is a two-day circular trail which sets out from the two base camps, namely Oom Japies, a cottage decorated with Ndebele murals, and the Rooikrans camp, built in a magnificent setting between massive boulders, all with interesting formations.  The one-day trail (see Day trail below) can be added to offer three days on the Suikerboschfontein trail - this trail sets out from Rooikrans camp, thus allowing two days’ stay at this unique camp.

 

The trail follows a winding path through the basin and several deep gorges.  Along the strong-flowing mountain streams there are many indigenous trees, of which 90 plus species have been identified and tagged and several varieties of ferns (some of the tree ferns being several metres high), offering cool and shady hiking conditions.  Huge kiepersol and yellowwood trees grow along the trail.

 

Starting from Oom Japies camp, the trail crosses grassveld to descend to the first yellowwood forest, and further down crosses the top of the first mountain stream.  For the next few kilometres one hikes on the top of the plateau before descending to the bottom of the basin where a stop next to the swimming hole can be enjoyed.  The route gradually descends, and then there is a steep decline through a cleft to the waterfall.  From here the route goes up the kranzes through a natural break. The last stretch winds along the stream, past weathered rocks to arrive at Rooikrans camp.  On this stretch one will encounter both San rock art on the rock face and the interesting ruins of a stone and rock structure, allegedly the ruins of the Dying Sun Chariot temple as researched and recorded by Dr C Hromnik.

 

The next day’s trail passes numerous rock aloes (a magnificent sight in autumn when in bloom) and gradually descends into the big kloof to go along the kranze until it reaches the Mooifontein waterfall. It continues over a grassy hill and into the S‑shaped kloof.  One is completely cut off from the outside world while the trail follows the mountain stream under the kranze.  The trail then climbs out of the kloof to reach a spot with a wonderful view back to Rooikrans and Suikerbosrant.  The next stop will be at Gladdekloof where swimming can be enjoyed in the clear pools.  After this, the trail leaves the kloof and turns off towards Suikerbosrant, over a stretch of rocky grassveld until it reaches Oom Japies camp.

 

The Day trail: A new trail has been developed for day hikers or to enjoy a three-day visit to Suikerboschfontein.  The trail departs from the Rocks and descends into the valley to run along the mountain stream.  The waterfall is a perfect spot to stop for tea.  It continues to Spitskoppie, which offers a wonderful view of the valley below, and then goes down the mountain following the stream. A short cut back can be taken at this point, or hikers can continue out of the Grootkloof into the next kloof.  The lunch spot has a natural swimming pool, slip’n slide rock bed, and a gas “griller” for the perfect lunch stop in deep shade.  The last stretch is a challenging climb back to the beginning.

 

There is abundant flora and several antelope species and more than 160 species recorded.  At both huts there is a swimming pool.  You will return here time and again to experience all the seasons on this magnificent and popular trail.

 

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