Dawn at Theewaterskloofdam.


Boland Trail

Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve

20th - 22nd December 2011

- Day 3: Boesmanskloof to Nuweberg -


"One person at a time" - heed the sign at Boesmanskloof Hut Bridge.


Theewaterskloofdam as viewed from Boesmanskloof.


The overcast skies was a sure indication that an early start at 06h00 was justified. Ralph had kept tabs on the weather report and we would be lucky to avoid the rain. As we set out, a very slight drizzle had created an exquisite rainbow in the sky. The path being on the leeward side of the mountains, we were for the most part at least, sheltered from the worst of it. It was a relatively easy, mildly undulating walk with no steep climbs to speak of, at least not until the very end, just before reaching Nuweberg. The morning sun glistened off the waters of Theewaterskloof. The vast area before us, stretching all the way back to Grabouw and Elgin, is home to deciduous fruit farming. Whilst we were out in nature on a leisurely walk on the path not unsurprisingly known as the Orchard Route, for the farmers working the land, it was business as usual, despite the festive season being upon us. The silence on the descent of Bobbejaanskloof the day before was now replaced by the distant hum of machinery. I remember, as kids, we used to drive with our parents to the fruit-sorting and distribution warehouses of Elgin, buying boxes of apples and pears. Those were the days.


A stream near Boesmanskloof Hut.



Boesmanskloof rainbow at dawn - the wet weather approaches.



Looking back towards Boesmanskloof.


The path ahead on the Orchard Route.


View along the path as Theewaterskloof shimmers in the early morning sunlight.


Deciduous fruit farms adjacent to Theewaterskloof.


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An extensive and excellent report on the findings of surveys that were conducted on a number of river systems in the Western Cape contains the following description of the Cape Floral Kingdom:
 "The unique Cape Floral Kingdom is one of the richest of the world's six plant Kingdoms. It covers an area of slightly less than 90 000 square km from the Cedarberg in the west to Port Elizabeth in the east and hosts about 9 000 plant species. Freshwater and marine environments in the Kingdom are similarly unique with plants and animals adapted to highly specialised environments. The principal vegetation in the Cape Floral Kingdom is fynbos, which is the collective term for its ericas, proteas, restios and geophytes. Fynbos is renowned for its beauty and diversity and boasts 526 of the world’s 740 erica species, 96 of the 160 gladiolus species and 69 of the 112 protea species, of which 70% are endemic (species that occur nowhere else). The Cape Peninsula itself has about 150 endemic plant species – the highest endemism for any area of similar size in the world. The Cape Peninsula National Park (incorporating Table Mountain) and Kogelberg Nature Reserve (incorporating the Palmiet River) are hotspots within the fynbos as they have an unusually large variety of plant species".  


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View across towards Grabouw and Elgin on the Orchard Route.


The Hottentots Holland Mountains that separate the Overberg from the Cape Metropolitan Area.


Silhouetted against the light of dawn above Theewaterskloof.


Deciduous fruit farms are big business in the Western Cape.


View back along the Orchard Route where the road heads up towards Franschhoek.


The Orchard Route towards Elgin and Grabouw. In the distance, the Hottentots Holland Mountain range.


I was largely unprepared for the last section of the walk as we ventured ever closer to Nuweberg, when the R43 leading to Elgin and Grabouw came into view. Ralph had hinted at the fact this involved a steep climb however he might have possibly spared me the details for a number of reasons. The path drops down steeply towards a weir which crosses Riviersonderend via Vink's Bridge, reminding us somewhat of the passarella we had encountered on our Patagonian adventure two years before. The hillside on the opposite, bounded by firebreaks, was completely bare, scarred by the harvest of pines. A service road seemed to indicate a way out however a zig-zag path up the hillside was the more likely possibility. In attempting to cross a section of land littered with felled tree trunks, Ralph and I split up. Whilst he managed to pick up a signposted path to Nuweberg, I found myself stranded in no-man's land, with an option of taking the service road which in all likelihood led towards the R43 or alternatively, going over the top. It was a tough climb where the path eventually rounded a corner, from which the road leading up to the main gate of the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve was now clearly visible. By now Ralph had a significant lead on me and reached the parking spot at the forestry offices long before me.



Cape fynbos on the Orchard Route.


Not far to go to Nuweberg - in the distance, the road up to SirLowry's Pass.


Just as we drove along the dirt road and joined the road leading away from the main gate of the forestry station, it began to rain, a timely departure indeed. The Orchard Route path and the mountains behind it were by now bearing the brunt of a significant downpour and we were thankful that we had made an early start 6 hours before.


The dirt road in the Hottentots Holland from the main gate to Cape Nature offices - end of day 3.


[Home Page]

Boland Trail [1] [2] [3]

[South African adventures]

Cape Nature website -  plus, download a brochure & map of the area.

Environmental report on Cape River Systems - pdf document.

Suicide Gorge kloofing video clip.

Suicide Gorge Kloofing - an adventure website

Paddling Suicide Gorge - an adventure website

The walk - Ralph's perspective

Ralph's Boland Trail video clip


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