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Waterkloof Hiking Trail

Near Ficksburg, Free State Province


The Waterkloof Hiking Trail is situated in the Eastern Free State, close to the small town of Ficksburg. The area is remarkable for the diversity and beauty that it has to offer and this trail offers the hiker a kaleidoscope of rugged sandstone cliffs and a rich variety of flora.  The trail is in the Visierskerf Nature Reserve 45Kms from Fickburg, 230Kms from Bloemfontein and 340 Kms from Gauteng. The trail can accommodate up to 30 people at a time. It is a well marked and the owner has put a lot of effort into its construction. The trail has the option of a third day with sleeping over night at Sphinx mountain hut.

Accommodation

Accommodation for hikers at the start of the trail is in Langesnek farmhouse which is well equipped and maintained. It has beds and mattresses, flush toilets, hot showers, two plate stove, pots, pans and a kettle, and outside, a braai area with firewood. The second night is spent in Barolong cave, a sandstone overhang equipped with toilets and a braai area. There are  some rooms constructed against the back of the cave to sleep in, otherwise hikers have the option of sleeping in the open under the overhang, in full view of the stars. Hikers need to provide and carry their own mattresses.

 

         
 

The Trail

As this is a backpacking trail, everything needs to be carried along for the overnight in the cave. This includes foam mattresses and, if required, groundsheets.

 
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Towards the mountains A toadstool along the way
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Streams to cross Well constructed footpaths
 
         
 
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 From the Moolmanshoek farmhouse,where cars are parked, the trail meanders across grassland towards the magnificence of the distant mountains. Once within the bounds of the mountains the full beauty of the area unfolds with streams to cross, dense bush and magnificent sandstone outcrops to clamber up.

 
         
 

There is a pole to climb along the way which proves to be a very efficient ladder. Some areas along the sandstone kloofs can be slippery in places and care needs to be taken

 
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Waterkloof17.JPG (24163 bytes) Up the pole with a place to go!
 
         
 
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There are some lovely surprises of beautiful hidden grottos along the way.  For those who feel energetic, there is an option of a steep climb to the summit of Sikonjella (7599ft) with ensuing views of the surrounding areas.

 
         
 

The final part of the trail consists of a short climb up along a farm road to the overnight cave. The first day of the trail is advertised as only 10,5Kms. This does not include the optional climb to the top of Sikonjella. The hiker can settle down to a night of stars and much chat around the camp fire.

 
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On the second day of the trail, the path hugs the sandstone cliffs and passes through a rich variety of flora and past the Porcupine lookout point. Again the option is available to the energetic hiker of a stiff climb to the top of Visierskerf (7907ft).

 On its way back to the starting point at Moolmanshoek farmhouse the trail passes several more pools and more interesting flora and rock formations.

Should there be a problem in doing the second day of the trail, the road from the cave can be followed.

 

 

Conclusion

This is a lovely trail and well worth the effort of doing it. It is a credit to the farmer who has put a lot of work into its construction. As a backpacking trail, it is not that strenuous especially if the option of the two detours to the top of the mountains are not taken. However, the views are well worth the effort. As can be seen from the photos, the winters can be cold and snow is possible.

Trail Map

Download PDF of Trail Map

'In a Nutshell'

Distance from nearest town 45km from Ficksburg, 340km from Gauteng.
Access road status The access road to Moolmanshoek is usually in good repair
Trail type Overnight backpacking route
Difficulty Moderate
Marking When evaluated the trail was well marked
GPS Co-ordinates R70 Turn off  S28 35.348 E27 56.024

Langesnek Base camp - S28 37.294 E27 59.573

Barolong cave -    S28 39.064 E28 02.264

Cell phone reception Base camp - No
Facilities Basecamp good, cave very basic

 

 

Trail accredited by Southern Africa Trail Owners Association

To book this excellent trail contact

Jacana 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  

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

 

 


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