Swellendam Hiking Trail

Marloth Nature Reserve, Swellendam, Western Cape Province


The Swellendam Hiking Trail is one of those trails that seem to have been around for ever but very few people that you speak to among the hiking community, seem to have hiked it. It is not an easy trail, especially under the extreme weather conditions that occur in the mountains, but this should not put you off as it is also a very spectacular trail and certainly one that should appear on any 'to do' of any serious hiker. The full trail is 6 days duration but there are shorter routes available ranging from single day walks to hikes of 2,3,4 and 5 days.

 For those who love the wild flowers of the Cape Mountain fynbos biome, the flora is some of the best examples  to be found in the Cape. There are some 30 members of the erica family to be found in the area including some that are only to be found in these mountains. More than 6 members of the Protea family are also to be found along the trail.

 The town of Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa and has a rich historical past. It is worth remembering this when planning your trip so as to spend  a few hours in exploring this beautiful little town.

         
 

Day 1 - 15km

 Glenstream Hut to Boskoof

The first day of the trail starts at Glenstream Hut (near the car park) and consists of a fairly grueling ascent into the mountains. The views of the surrounding area are spectacular and it is worth starting early and spending the full day on the walk.

 

 
         
 

 

While there is water usually along the route, it is necessary to carry at least 2lt of water with you. You also need to pack warm and waterproof clothing as the weather can change in a matter of minutes. A good pair of hiking boots is also essential as the area is rugged. A portable gas stove is essential as fires may only be lit at the first and last huts.

 
         
 

Bunk beds and mattresses are provided along with water and field toilets

In the dryer months, hikers are especially requested to be careful to avoid being the cause of fires.

 

 
         
 

 

 

More than 800m in altitude is gained within the first 8km making this the most strenuous section of the whole trail.

Along the way, the views of the surrounding mountains begin to mellow you for the days ahead. Boskloof hut is situated close to a stream with inviting pools to cool of in after a hard day's hiking.

 
         
 

Along the trail you will find plenty of opportunity for photography. The fynbos alone is spectacular enough to take up at least two films or a memory card. I find that on a trail like this one never has too many films or too much memory capacity or indeed batteries!

 
 
         
 
 

Day 2 - 10km

Boskloof Hut to Goedgeloof

After the previous day's exertion this day will prove to be relatively easy. The day starts off with a fairly steep climb up along Drosterspas to Vultures Rock and Knuckle Rock from were you can look down on Boskloof hut far below. The trail then descends to cross the Langkuile River before once again rising to Goedgeloof Nek before a steep descent (500m) to the hut.

 
         
 

The huts are situated close to private farmland and it is requested that these farms should not be trespassed upon.

Hiker's are not permitted to swim in the nearby farm dam.

 
 
         
 
 

Spectacular sunsets are often to be seen from Goedgeloof.

 
         
  Day 3 - 10km

Goedgeloof  to Protea Valley

For a short distance the trail descends to cross  the Warmwater River and then begins a steep climb (500m) until Warmwaternek is reached. The rest of the trail to Protea Valley Hut is fairly easy and time should be taken to admire the beauty of the fynbos.

 

 
 
         
 
 

Misty Point, the highest point in the Langeberg range, dominates the scenery and is often true to its name.

 
         
 

The hut at Protea Valley is similar to that found at Boskloof.

Trail Options

 From Protea Valley one has the options of shortening the route by taking the Kruispad route (7km) or the Ventersbank route (12km) to the last hut, Wolfkloof, thereby shortening the trail by one night. It should be noted that the Vetersbank route is very steep and should not be used in bad weather or by those with a fear of heights.

 
Ventersbank and Leeukloof
Protea Valley Hut
 
         
 
 

Day 4 - 13km

Protea Valley to Nooigedacht

The trail starts off with the usual climb, this time up to Dwariganek were the Ventersbank route departs the main trail. From here the trail descends about 600m and then undulates through some of the best fynbos on the whole trail, to the hut.

Day 5 - 21,3km

Nooigedacht to Wolfkloof

Despite its length, this section of the trail should not present the hiker with too many problems. Kleinhoutbos, which is an ideal stopping place for a late lunch provides opportunities for cooling off along the way.

 
         
 

Day 6 - 10kmWolfkloof to back to the start of the trail

The final day should take you about 4 hours to complete. The day starts with the usual steep climb for about 300m before the descent to the Klip River. This is followed by a short climb before the gradual descent back to base.

 

Click on map for larger image

 

 

Click for larger image

Conclusion

This is a really classic trail and should appear on every hiker's 'to do' list. It is important to be well prepared and to have a fair degree of fitness especially for the first day. Don't let me put you off though as the trail offers such an amazing variety of things to see and photograph.

Trail accredited by Southern Africa Trail Owners Association

Bookings

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

or

Reservations can be made for the Swellendam Trail through Western Cape Nature Conservation Board

 Bredasdorp Reservation Office

Telephone +27 28 425 5020

Fax +27 28 425 5030

e-mail capenature@tiscali.co.za


Footprint Hiking Club

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