Woodcliffe Cave Trail

Maclear, Eastern Cape


The Woodcliffe Cave Trail is situated in the lovely Joelshoek Valley approximately 22km from the picturesque little town of Maclear. The southern Drakensberg peaks tower around the valley, feeding the waterfalls and mountain streams with an ample supply of crystal clear water. The trail is of five days duration but it is worthwhile extending your stay to visit the Rock Art in the caves or do some pony trekking. When hiking in the berg it is always important to take into account the unpredictability of the weather and come prepared for any eventuality.   

     

The starting point for the trail is at Woodcliffe farmhouse where one can park ones car. It is important to arrive no later than 3pm due to the 5km walk that one has to do to arrive at the overnight cave before nightfall.

 
Woodcliffe Brow in mist
     
Woodcliffe in spring
The waterfall in front of the cave

View from Tok's cave behind the waterfall

 

 

 

Day 1

 The first night is spent  in Tok's Cave, which  has 4 huts built into it. Firewood is provided so you can enjoy a braai. The cave has a waterfall over the front of it and a long drop loo nearby.

     

Day 2

The yellow route is a circular, marked route, over the foothills and is approx.13km long. Enjoy a swim at Redcliffe or Skinny Dip Pool. Take only daypacks with you to carry your needs for the day. The route passes the Woodcliffe farmhouse and you can pick up a few more provisions should you need them e.g. more beers/braai meat.

!

 
The river
     

Reed Park

 

 

 Day 3

 This is the toughest day on the hike. The red route is marked and takes you along the foothills. The path then climbs steeply as you ascend to the crest the high berg. Your overnight hut is at Reed Park, which is about one hourís hike from the brow of the berg. Approx distance covered is 13km. The hut has 3 rooms. A flowing river nearby means you can take a swim/bath and there is a long drop loo nearby. No firewood provided .Use your gas cookers.

NB. This day should be regarded as strenuous and should be attempted by fit people only. As an alternative there is a short cut to wide valley cutting out the third day. For those who are fit, this day is a must.

 

 

         
 

Day 4

The red route takes one along the brow of the Drakensberg for most of the morning. The views from the brow are superb. Follow Sephton's footpath down the berg. Then enjoy a gentle walk down to Wide Valley cottage. Total distance for the day is approx 13km. Wide Valley cottage is not alongside the stream, so hikers are requested to arrive with their water bottles full. The shepherd will collect your water and firewood. Please give the shepherd a small tip of approx R20 (any extra cigarettes would be welcomed) Take a short walk down to the river to swim/bath in the lovely plunge pool.

 
Wide Valley Cottage
 
         
 
 

       

Day five

The last day consists of a short walk (3 hours) back to the Woodcliffe farmhouse, along the red route. The distance is approx 9km. Expected time of arrival is 11am. Enjoy a hot shower and cup of tea.

Total hiking distance: 53km

 
         
 

Considerations:

  • This high berg section of the hike does pose a snow threat in winter. Hikers may be rerouted for their own safety.
  • Woodcliffe can experience heavy thundershowers in midsummer. Therefore, we advise hikers to rise early and reach the overnight hut by mid afternoon, to avoid being caught in a downpour.
  • The high berg route is for fit experienced hikers. 
The second day i.e. yellow circular walk may be omitted

 

 

Exploring a cave

 

 

 2.  Stay at Woodcliffe Farmhouse / Cottage for day walks  

Stay in the luxury of the farmhouse / cottage for a special treat, enjoy the best of Woodcliffe without roughing it. Woodcliffe is the last inhabited farm before the high berg and the sandstone cliffs and waterfalls are breathtaking. 

  • Marked day routes for hiking: yellow route & white route. Swim in any one of a 100 beautiful crystal clear mountain pools.
  • Hire a FGASA qualified guide to take you to some of the world famous rock art Maclear has to offer. Enjoy a "touch and feel experience" of the bushman tool collection.
  • Explore the mountainsides for wild Drakensberg flowers in the summer months: orchids, watsonias and lilies just to name a few. 
  • Enjoy trout fishing on the Little Pot River.
  • Pony treks & abseiling are available through Adele Moore of Wild at Heart Adventures (more info to follow)
  • Explore the dinosaur footprints at Oakleigh .
  • Bring your mountain bicycle and explore our mountain tracks.
  • Pack your picnic basket and enjoy relaxing next to a waterfall!

 

Other Pages (Click below)

Wild Flowers of Woodcliffe

Rock Art of Woodcliffe

 

Conclusion

How often do we travel down to the Eastern Cape to do a trail like the Amatola without considering a visit to one of the other excellent trails in the area? Woodcliffe Cave Trail has been around for a number years and has received excellent reviews from the media. Why not visit it next time that you decide to do a trail in the area.

 

'In a Nutshell'

Distance from nearest town 22km from Maclear
Access road status Generally good
Trail type Long distance backpacking route with shorter options
Difficulty Moderate to strenuous
Marking When evaluated the trail was well marked
GPS Co-ordinates R396Turn off  S30 59.808 E28 15.556

Parking - S30 59.673 E28 10.995

Toks Cave -    S30 59.413 E28 08.334

Reed Park Hut- S30 59.399 E28 01.636

Wide Valley Hut- S30 58.358 E28 07.261

Cell phone reception None
Facilities Basic accommodation

 

Bookings

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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

 


Footprint Hiking Club

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