From Greyton to McGregor
Where to start? That is the question in my head as I try to unpack an incredible hike through nature's finest scenery. It started off ordinarily enough, driving through the quaint little town of Greyton, in the Western Cape, looking for a place to park our car and head out on an overnight adventure.
After a quick coffee at one of the local restaurants and a reassessment of our departure point, it is with some trepidation that we find shade near a structure which seems to resemble the start of some hiking trails and set off on quite a rapid ascent.
It's not long before we reach a summit and the path turns us back in the direction from which we came. Some out of breath mutterings among the group suggest that we are not entirely sure if we are on the correct trail. This is confirmed as our initial undulating trail spits us out, near our car but at the start of Greyton national park situated at the bottom of Narina street.This short up and down detour would prepare us well for what lay ahead.
It certainly is not the flattest hike and some degree of fitness is strongly encouraged as you make your way along the Boesmanskloof Trail, which winds its way through the Riviersonderend Mountains that separate the two villages of Greyton and McGregor.
The early jeep track leads you up towards a magnificent viewpoint called Breakfast Rock. Aptly named, the breakfast snacks were passed around as we took some time to appreciate the hard work it had taken to get to this point.
It's well worth taking a breather here as the uphill battle continues all the way to signage indicating the “Boesmanskloof Hiking Trail”. About 7km in marks the beginning of your decent into a world of beautiful Cape Fynbos wildflowers, steep gorges and tranquil rock pools. Of course, the birdlife is exquisite and if you are quiet and lucky enough, you may catch sight of some wild animals like duiker, grey rhebuck, klipspringer, baboon, dassie, spotted genet and leopards.
On a hot summer's day, the refreshing sound of a waterfall is too good to resist and even though the legs are weary there seems to be a certain freshness among the group as the pace quickens down a staircase that has been crafted into the mountainside.The water is cold and offers us the opportunity to refill our low supplies of water. Some in the group opt to fully immerse themselves in the water as many of the aches and pains from the day's travels cease to exist in this moment of paradise.
The top pool can get very busy as many hikers make their way down for a lunch-time stop, but this luscious paradise extends further downriver into multiple other pools. If you are looking for a bit more privacy, it is well worth making your way downstream to a place where others would not even know you were sitting.
The waterfall stop marks 9km into the walk leaving just 5km to complete the 14km trail. However, this is where the trail really begins to feel like you are in the middle of the mountains as single tracks meander along the river and through some overgrown sections.
In the quietness of our footsteps it is evident that the birdlife is thriving as different calls echo through the valley. We reach a small overhanging cave which would offer another great rest point, but knowing we are close to the finish we push on, ignoring the last offer of shade.
In hindsight this was a mistake, as suddenly the path shoots vertically as we ascend out of the valley to the huts silhouetted into the maintain peaks. It is only 1km, but without a doubt the toughest kilometre we have faced today. As a group we are defeated just a few hundred metres from our final destination. Heaving oxygen into our lungs we regroup slowly and trudge the final few steps to what would be home for the night.
Die Galg is a group of huts run by Barry and his wife Ruth Ooosthuizen. They offer all the amenities one might need for an overnight stay.We are particularly happy that we did not need to carry any bedding or food, although on this scorching day as we clambered up the final steps we were concerned that we had not ordered enough liquid refreshments. Fortunately, Ruth is accommodating. She has been doing the shopping for hikers for many years and spotted this flaw in our order, so when we opened the fridge on arrival there were many sighs of relief.
Starting the hike before 8am meant a 3pm arrival and we now had the rest of the day to spend around the pool, retelling tales from the day.Thousands of sugar birds jostle for position on the brightly coloured flowers which are farmed around the huts and it is these sounds and the crackling of firewood that we enjoy as the sun sets over a beautiful day in the mountains.Tomorrow we would do it all again in reverse.
For more information call028 254 9414/9564 or email: [email protected]tontourism.com. You will require a hiking permit which can be bought at theGreyton Tourism office.