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THE GROOTRIVIER POORT HIKING TRAIL

 

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BASIC INFORMATION:

Five days trail (56 km) with shorter options of 3 or 4 days

Maximum number of hikers:  8

Difficulty:  Average. Only the section through the poort is rather rough and tiring

Location: 170 km from P E; 305 km from George; 700 km from Cape Town; 610 km from Bloemfontein.

Costs: Night before the hike (cottage):  R250 pp

            Other days: (huts and 1 field camp) R250 pp pd = R1000

Optional: Donkeys with handlers carry rucksacks the first 3 days:  R100 pp pd

Bookings and enquiries:  Hannes Horn, Tel 082 497 2372, email hannes@lets-help-africa.org

 

The new Grootrivier Poort hiking trail is situated in the remote area between Steytlerville and Patensie, in the western part of the

Eastern Cape's Groot-Winterhoek Maintains.  It is a 5 day circular route and runs over two large farms.  The landscape is quite similar to the Baviaanskloof.  The trail is an initiative of Hannes Horn from the Bucklands farm and Bennie Rathbone from Hatley farm. 

The trail starts at Bucklands, and for hikers coming from afar, there is a fully equipped cottage available for the night before the hike begins.  Here the farm people can also supply food and drinks.

 

THE TRAIL:

Day 1:  10km.  Relative level route through open landscape, with a long uphill or two towards the Ghê Ghê hut.  At this restored shepherd's cottage there are nice thick mattresses, an outdoor shower or sink vessel, firewood, braai grid, gas stove, a table, chairs and veranda.

Day 2:  16 km.  A foot path takes hikers up and over Paardenberg.  From here, there are panoramic views over the prominent Cockscomb mountain to the east.  On the slopes there are beautiful wildflowers, and even a cycad or two.  Then the route goes downhill, partly on a jeep track, to Gooseberry, a fully equipped cottage.  Braai packs and drinks can be arranged with the farm owner before-hand.

Day 3:  10 km.  Also a relative easy hike on a jeep track and foot paths.  The route runs through the mountains and ravines in a scenic area until you reach the next hut, Afdak.  This is also a fully equipped cottage underneath some trees, with a nice veranda.  Here, the donkeys will turn around.

Day 410 km. From here hikers enter the Grootrivier Poort and walk all along the river, with sky-high cliffs on both sides, big trees, a variety of plants and many birds.  The river is crossed 3 times (without taking off your shoes or clothes), with plenty swimming opportunities.  Lunch can be enjoyed in Rooibaadjie se Grot.  From here it is not far to Oom Ben se Kamp on the banks of the river, where hikers overnight on hammocks underneath a big canvas, with only a table, seating, a braai area and a field toilet. 

Day 5:  10 km.  The route follows the poort further, past Blougat Cave.  There are another 5 dry foot river crossings.  After about 3 km, the poort opens up and you walk further along farm roads to the end of the trail and your vehicles.