Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve

Rock Pigeon Hiking Trail, Rameron Pigeon Hiking Trail

Leopard Trap Day Hike, Rietvlei Day Hike

Nieuwoudtville, Northern Cape


 

Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve is situated 16km outside Nieuwoudtville and about 50km from Vanrhynsdorp in the Northern Cape Province. The reserve comprises of 4776 hectares of mountains which have been dissected by deep river gorges through which the Oorlogskloof River flows. The area has a rich and varied plant life being situated on the transition/ecotone area of the Fynbos and Karoo Biomes. There are two major hiking trails that have been laid out in the reserve plus two day walks.

 

Maps to Oorlogskloof

         
 

Rock Pigeon Trail 4-5 Days, 52.2km

The trail starts Groot Tuin. There is a overnight shelter available for hikers at Groot Tuin. The first day of the trail to Brakwater is 4km and can be accomplished in 2-3 hours. This day can be combined with day two but the rugged terrain on the second day makes this a very strenuous option. The second day  (8,5km) takes 6-7 hours to accomplish. Soon after the beginning of the day's walk the trail ascends to the plateau with the help of a rope and a ladder. After a while the trail once again descends to the river and follows this for some distance through riverine thicket until once again climbing towards Driefontein overnight camp.

 

 
 
         
 
Along the route the hiker will find distance plaques to indicate their progress.
 

 

 The third day of the trail, from Driefontein to Doltuin is 12km and takes 6-8 Hours to walk. The day starts off with a steep climb down to the Oorlogs River. Once the river is crossed a steep ascent on the opposite bank awaits the hiker. There is a rock chimney that is used to gain access to the top with the help of ropes. The trail then takes the hiker through impressive stands of Protea and along the cliffs for most of the rest of the days walk.

 
         
 

Day four of the trail is 17km long and should take the hiker 6-8 hours to accomplish, it takes the hiker from Doltuin to Pramkoppie. This is an interesting walk as  there is plenty of variety to see. The trail visits its highest point near Arrie se Punt, crawling through a narrow passage and passing some spectacular rock formations. The area around the camp site at Pramkoppie is a haven for several bird species and is tucked away under wild olive trees. During the dry periods water is needs to be collected from the river below the camp.

The final day of the trail starts off with a visit to some rock paintings. Be sure to follow the trail markers from this point and not the jeep track. The trail returns to the plateau edge. There is a short detour of 250m to a viewpoint with a spectacular panoramic view over towards the town of Vanrhyns Pass. The trail continues along the escarpment edge and then along the plateau until it reaches a chimney and ladders, with some large rocks that need to be negotiated. Eventually the hiker reaches the track that was followed on the first day and then a short distance later the end of the trail.

 
 
    Rameron Pigeon Trail 4-7 Days, 52.4km    
   
 

The route is the same irrespective of the number of days taken. By combining days one can make the duration shorter but then the trail becomes more strenuous as the days become longer. There are designated camp sites on route at Kareebos, Kameel se Gat, Suikerbosfontein, Swartkliphuis, Bo-Kloof, Olienhoutbos and Groot Tuin (the starting point). The first part of the trail leads to Kareebos (5,9km -2-3 hours). Much of the time is spent in indigenous forest on the banks of the Oorlogskloof River. From Kareebos the trail leads to Kameel se Gat (7,9km- 6-7 hours). The first 2,8km of the day continues along the banks of the river until a waterhole is reached. From here the trail joins the second day of the Rock Pigeon route until you reach the turn off to Kameel se Gat. The trail then leads past several large stone structures that date back to the early days of the pioneer farmers.

 
         
 

From Kameel se Gat the trail continues on to the next camp at Suikerbosfontein (4,6km - 2-3 hours). Much of this day is the same as the third day of the Rock Pigeon trail. Interesting rock paintings can be found along this section of the trail.

 The next section of the trail leads from Suikerbosfontein to Swartkliphuis (6,3km- 4-5 hours). The first part of the day passes some caves and old graves of the early inhabitants of the area. The trail then ascends gradually to Draaikraal spring, a good place to replenish water supplies. Waterholes are common along this stretch of the trail. The trail ascends gradually to the plateau from which spectacular views are to be seen.

 
 
         
 
 

From Swartkliphuis the trail continues to Bo-kloof (8,1km - 3-4 hours). The route follows the sheer cliffs of the Doltuin valley until a descent is made by way of a wooden ladder found below loose rocks. The route then leads to Gheling se Tenk, past a small waterfall to two caves where rock paintings can be found. At the stream crossing, the last water of this section of the trail can be collected. On route to Bo-kloof the path leads through massive boulders and more rock paintings can be found to the right.

 
         
 

From Bo-kloof the trail continues to Olienhoutbos (7,3km - 3-4 hours). The first part of the route is fairly easy and follows the course of the river. In the direction of Kouekloof, two overhanging rocks with rock paintings are passed. The route gradually descends past a viewpoint overlooking the De Vondeling Valley. The trail passes a seasonal stream and follows the mountain edge. Various caves and impressive rock formations with rock paintings are passed. The route 'ends' at a rock with a hole in it, through which you climb with the help of a ladder. Olienhoutbos is nearby. Water can be obtained from the river.

 
 
         
 
 

The final part of the trail takes the hiker from Olienhoutbos back to Groot Tuin (12km - 6-7 hours). The route follows the riverbed past endemic candelabra flower (Brunsvigia josphinae), until the trail reaches a jeep track where you turn left. The track is followed until the turnoff to Groot Tuin. From here the trail follows the same route as that of day 5 of the Rock Pigeon route until it reaches Knersvlakte lookout point. The route follows the edge of the mountain to a triangular sign no46 and then turns east to a seasonal stream. The route descends over big boulders to the upper reaches of the Saaikloof. The trail ascends to the top of the plateau again. After a walk of 15mins, the junction leading to the last 1,3km walk to the starting point, is reached.

 
         
 

The overnight shelter at Groot Tuin is very basic, but provides room to sort out your backpack before the hike begins.

 
 

Day walks

         
 

In addition to the two longer routes there are two single day trails in the reserve.

The Leopard Trap Day Hike 15,5km- 6-9 hrs

This follows a route from Groot Tuin past the leopard cage to the Knersvlakte viewing site.

Rietvlei Day Hike 17,9km 7-10 hrs

This is a route for those who would like to swim in the Oorlogskloof River and also takes in the Knersvlakte viewing site.

 

 
 
         
 
 

Although the area is arid flowers abound and if one has room in ones backpack a field guide would be a useful addition. A camera is a must and a pair of binoculars may also come in useful.

 

 

Map of Trails

Click for larger image

Pertinent Information

Rainfall

The average annual rainfall is 426mm. During December to April, the water is restricted to pools. During the summer period, hikers must carry at least two litres of water per person.

Accommodation

At each campsite along the trails are 5 tents that accommodate 3 people each. Group size is normally 15 but special arrangements can be made for larger groups. At the start of the trails is a hut with a gravel floor, candle lights, stretchers and a long drop toilet and a lapa with picnic tables and chairs.

General

Fires may only be lit at Groot Tuin (provide own firewood). Hikers must be fit as the terrain is rugged and inhospitable. Be prepared for extremes of weather.

Conclusion

The hiking trails at Oorlogskloof are for experienced and fit hikers. A comprehensive first aid kit is essential. These are great trails and should form part of any hiking group or clubs calendar.

 

Trail a member of and accredited by The Southern Africa Hiking Trail Owners Association

Bookings

Bookings should be made through

Manager: Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve

Telephone 027 218 1010

Fax 027 218 1159

wpretorius@sp.ncape.gov.za


Footprint Hiking Club

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