Hike the Hennops

FIONA MCINTOSH es­capes to Hennops River just out­side the Big Smoke and dis­cov­ers a wilder­ness of moun­tains, gorges, his­tor­i­cal sites and game, with a river run­ning through it

South African Country Life - - Hiking - PICS SHAEN ADEY AND PAUL LIEBEN­BERG

“If you go 300m with­out see­ing a white foot­print some­thing is wrong so turn back.” Ernest Mduzi grins as he briefs us on the hik­ing trails at Hennops, a rugged moun­tain wilder­ness near the Hart­beespoort Dam north of Joburg. Hav­ing main­tained the trails and di­rected vis­i­tors here for nine years, he’s proud of his work and is a fount of in­for­ma­tion.

If we want to see game we should take the Ze­bra Route, he ad­vises. Ze­bra, bles­bok, kudu, blue wilde­beest and im­pala are of­ten sighted on this 6km cir­cu­lar hike around the north­ern sec­tor of the Hennops Trails farm. It’s tempt­ing, but we’re keen for a work­out so opt for the longer Krokodil­berg Route, which, we’re promised, is both scenic and in­ter­est­ing from a his­tor­i­cal per­spec­tive.

Armed with a map we head down to the Hennops River, en­joy­ing the shade as we am­ble along its bank. Soon the gorge closes in and the path leads up to the top of a golden rock band from where we look down on the churn­ing river. The veg­e­ta­tion in the gorge is green and lush, a marked con­trast from the

OP­PO­SITE TOP: The view of the Hennops River from the or­ange cliffs of the gorge is mag­nif­i­cent. OP­PO­SITE BE­LOW: Ernest Mduzi (blue shirt) and fel­low Malaw­ian Henry Phiri main­tain the trails and direct vis­i­tors. BE­LOW: The Hennops River and Gorge are ma­jor at­trac­tions of the hike, par­tic­u­larly dur­ing the dry win­ter months. In ad­di­tion to the longer hikes there are many op­por­tu­ni­ties for short strolls and pic­nics. RIGHT: The Krokodil­berg and Dassie Routes start on a shady path along­side the Hennops River.

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