My Journey of Self-Discovery

Great Trails of South Africa

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Brought to you by K-way

WORD
& PICS BY JACQUES MARAIS

 WHY GO

If
you dare to trip into the Northern Cape beyond the uppermost reaches of the
Cederberg ranges, you will discover the hidden beauty of what probably rates as
one of South Africa’s least-known nature reserves, the dramatic Oorlogskloof,
where you will find a combination of
caves and cliff-top trails with the full gamut of
everything from desert fynbos to deep-forest single-track.

 

WHAT YOU GET

The arid Northern Cape terrain is crisscrossed by an extensive network
of gravel roads and hiking trails tailor-made for experienced mountain goats.
The main route options generally circumscribe the deep and spectacular gorge –
up to 500m wide in places – eroded by the Oorlogskloof River.

 

WHERE TO RUN

There are a number of trails to
choose from, plus various combinations structured around the existing seven-day
hiking trail.
Officially, you can choose from the
options below:

One-Day Circular Routes:

?        
Leopard Trap Day Hike – 15.5km

?        
Revile Day Hike – 17.9km

?        
Sailor Day Hike – 5.2km

Four-day to Seven-day Circular
Routes:

?        
Rock Pigeon Route – 52.2km

?        
Rameron Pigeon Route – 52.4km

 

The annual Oorlogskloof Mountain Trail Runs (part
of the SPUR Country Classics Series) include both 42km and 18km mountain run
options, plus a fun 5km, held every year at the end of April. Due to the
remoteness of this wilderness area, the event is only open to teams of two
runners, to ensure competitor safety, and the event starts and finishes at
Groot Tuin, at the reserve entrance 16km from Nieuwoudtville.

 

The 42km
run route follows a combination of various hiking trails, meandering between
rock formations toward the edge of ‘Saaikloof’ before you dip toward
Spelonkkop. Cross the Oorlogskloof River to follow the contour below cliffs
before dropping down to the river. The normal hiking trail carries on past
‘Eland se Kliphuis’ and into the Rietvlei Valley. Here the route twists and
turns along the valley floor, onto plateaus and escarpments, through numerous
arches, squeezing through narrow cracks in rocks and cliffs. Finally, head back
to Groot Tuin along the escarpment overlooking the arid Knersvlakte, passing
through some dense patches of montane forest.

 

If you plan
to run outside this event, a map with detailed info is available when you
obtain your permit from Nature Conservation in Goedehoop Street,
Nieuwoudtville.

 

Oorlogskloof 42km Trail Run Fast
Facts

?        
Grading: Extreme.

?        
Duration: 5 to
10 hours.

?        
Configuration: Circular route.
Trail markings:  Clay tiles, wooden signs or stone cairns.

?        
Facilities: Basic huts/tents along trail; water in river
year-round.

Cell reception:
No coverage.

?        
Beware: Dehydration,
snakes and loose rocks.

?        
Best
time of year:
Winter rains and red-hot, dry summers.

 

GETTING THERE

The
turn-off to Oorlogskloof is 6km east of Nieuwoudtville on the R27; look out for
a sign to the reserve and turn left (south) along a rough jeep-track for just
on 10km to Groot Tuin. GPS:
31?26’38.07″S / 19? 4’13.68″E.
Local info: www.northerncape.org.za
/
Tel: 027 218 1159.

 

STAY HERE

Check out
www.nieuwoudtville.co.za or www.papkuilsfontein.co.za.

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