Cycad/Broodboom Hiking Trail

Middelburg, Mpumalanga Province

Many hikers will know and have walked this and the Baboon trail in years gone bye. Due to part of the land being sold, the trails have had to be redeveloped and an exciting new overnight backpack trail is the result. The Olifants River gorge lends itself so well to hiking that there are a number of excellent trails in this area and the new Cycad trail is one of the best.


The trail starts from the farmhouse were the cars are parked. The accommodation is in the form of 4-bedded chalets with beds and mattresses. Ablutions are situated next to the owners house, a short walk away, and consist of hot shower and flush toilets.


The first day of the trail is about 12km long and the kloof route needs a certain degree of fitness (and nerve) as it involves quite a lot of rock scrambling and boulder hopping. In places there are chains to help. There is an easier, alternative route for those who prefer this.


The trail passes some fine examples of the local Middelburg Cycad which is endemic to this particular area.


On the way down the kloof, the trail passes some interesting rock pools and waterfalls, ideal for a morning tea break.


After good rains the kloof route is very spectacular. Care needs to be taken as the rocks can be slippery when wet.


Eventually the hiker arrives at the bottom of the kloof at the Olifants River. Lunch and a swim can be taken here. The trail follows the river for a short distance and then starts it ascent to the overnight camp at Arendsnes.


Arendsnes must rank as one of the most spectacular overnight hut on any hiking trail. It is built right on the edge of the Olifants River gorge with spectacular views to the river far below. The hut accommodates 10 people and the trail is short enough to really enjoy this very special place.


The shower is perched high on the cliff edge


The whole hut, ablutions and braai area is built of wood. Care needs to be taken to make sure that the braai fire doesn't get out of hand and that the fire is extinguished before going to bed.


The 2nd day of the trail is a leisurely 6km long but is also a very beautiful walk as it weaves in and out of some of the most beautiful rock formations to be found on any trail.


Now and then the trail ventures to the edge of the gorge offering spectacular views of the river far below.


The trail passes through some lovely indigenous bush that can offer the hiker respite from the heat of the day.


Patches of dense vegetation


Separate day trails are also being developed for those that cannot backpack.


'In a nutshell'

Distance from nearest town Middelburg, Mpumalanga 27,5km
Access road status Gravel. Last 12,5km can be difficult after heavy rain. If in doubt check with owner
Trail type Overnight backpack trail. It is possible to do the whole trail in one day
Difficulty Easy to moderate. The only fairly difficult section is the climb up to Arendsnes from the river
Marking When evaluated the trail was well marked
GPS Co-ordinates Base camp - S25 38 44.5 E29 18 45.6

Arendsnes -    S25 38 44.7 E29 17 15.0

Cell phone reception Base camp - No

Arendsnes - No

Facilities Basic with beds, mattreses, braai, braai grid with limited wood supplied. Ablutions include flush toilet and hot shower at base and toilet and shower at Arendsnes.


This is certainly a trail that is well worth a visit. The days are not long but are well worth taking ones time about as the routes are spectacular. In dry conditions, it is essential to take along adequate water as that found in the Olifants is not drinkable.

Direction Map

Click for larger image


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