Swartberg Hiking Trail

Oudtshoorn, Western Cape Province


The road from Beaufort West to George when it traverses the Meiringspoort Pass in the Swartberg Mountains must rank as one of the most scenic routes in South Africa. It certainly planted a seed in my mind that one day I should come back and walk to walk the Swartberg Hiking Trail. I realized this ambition in September 2004 and certainly was not disappointed with what I found. The trail is not an easy trail by any means and the weather can change from hour to hour so one needs to pack for any eventuality. 

         
 

The De Hoek resort is probably the best place to start the trail as there is safe parking for cars. The climb from De Hoek is strenuous and it is important to start early in summer months.  

 

Starting off from De Hoek

Looking back

 
         
 
 

As one climbs a magnificent mountain panorama opens out before the eyes. In winter and spring, these peaks can be snow covered. Indeed, when we did the trail in September, we actually walked for a while in snow.

 
         
  The stark magnificence of the mountain scenery broken by the softness of the flowers of the Cape  mountain fynbos.  
 
         
 
 

The path is well defined and as with most Cape Nature trails, well maintained.

 
         
 

The Swartberg Mountains are part of the Cape Fold Mountain range, and the geological formations are chiefly of the Table Mountain group.

 
 
         
 
 

The area is rich in Proteas and these are really beautiful when in bloom.

 
         
 

The Gouekrans hut is set in magnificent scenery close to waterfalls. The hut has bunk beds and mattresses, flush toilet and cold water shower. No fires are allowed so it is important to take your own gas stove along.

 
 
         
 
 

Close to Gouekrans hut

 
         
  The second day of the trail continue the climb of the previous day to bring the hiker to the higher parts of the mountains. The area is quite exposed and subject to extremes of weather conditions.  
 
         
 
Bothashoek Hut
 

The distance to Bothashoek is 13,4Km and follows a jeep track for most of the way. Bothashoek hut has bunk beds and mattresses, a communal room with a table and benches. Ablutions include flush toilets and a cold water shower. No fires may be lit.

 
         
 

From Bothashoek to Ou Tol one has a choice of routes to take.  The hiker can continue along the jeep track (advisable in bad weather) or take the more strenuous route through the mountains. Ou Tol Hut is situated on the top of the Swartberg Pass and it is possible to leave cars here and start your hike from here. The hut has a cozy fire place and this is great for cold nights. The distance is 12,8Km from Bothashoek to Ou Tol.

 
Ou Tol Hut
 
         
 
 

From Ou Tol one has the same choice of routes back to Bothashoek. Despite it being a jeep track, the road option is very spectacular and well worth doing.

 
         
 

The last day, from Bothashoek back to De Hoek is a spectacular walk and a credit to the people from Cape Nature. The route is 8,5Km long and can only be described as magnificent.

 
 

Conclusion

The Swartberg Hiking Trail is a tough trail but well worth the effort in doing it. Do not underestimate the weather, you could have and probably will have, every type of weather there is to be had during the course of five days of hiking. Although the trail follows a jeep track for a longer distance than I would normally like, the scenery is so spectacular that one can easily forget this.

GPS Coordinates

Bothashoek S 33 20'05.3"   E 22 07'30.3"

De Hoek     S 33 21'58.4"    E 22 10'35.7"

Gouekrans   S 33 19'09.7"   E 22 14'20.6"

Ou Tol         S 33 20'49.7"    E 22 02'23.4"

Booking Should be made through

Jacana Travel Marketing and Reservations

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Telephone  0861Jacana (0861 522262)

Direct phone: Port Elizabeth 041 378 1439

Pretoria: 012 803 9109

Direct fax: PE 041 378 2548

Pretoria: 012 803 4144

 PE e-mail  bookings@jacanacollection.co.za

Pretoria e-mail: rosa@jacanacollection.co.za

 

 

 Western Cape Nature Conservation Board

Telephone +27 (0) 44 802 5311 Fax +27 (0) 44 802 5313

e-mail george@cnc.org.za or goukamma@cnc.org.za

 


Footprint Hiking Club

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