Groot Winterhoek – 13-16 August 2014

Part of Cape Nature’s vast portfolio of wilderness areas, the Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area is situated about 2 hours north of Cape Town, south of the Cederberg catchment area. This elevated plateau which supplies the majority of fresh water to the homes of Capetonian’s, is home to one of the remotest of hiking trails in the Western Cape, if not South Africa.


We took on this trail directly after visiting the Cederberg, which consisted of 4 days, and 3 nights in this remote wilderness, fully self sufficient – food and shelter, excluding water (which was naturally plentiful and sweet to the taste). Being completely alone for 4 days (except for airplanes coming and going overhead) with no cell phone reception, this trail proved to test us in many ways, yet provide unique memories that will last a lifetime…


Day 1 – Start to Low-water bridge


This first day was just miserable. We started in the rain, smiles all around, yet arriving at the Low-water bridge was a relief second to none as we were drenched and somewhat tired of rain. It was a challenging, yet beautiful down hill nevertheless. We managed to set up our tent (Swedish Hilleberg Tarra) when there was a break in the rain for a bit, but then it was tested and held up very well in the rain which was a spectacular torrent the whole night…

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Day 2 – Low-water bridge to Perdevlei


In sticking our head out of our tent we were pleasantly surprised at the beauty and vastness of the colours of Fynbos that the reserve has to offer – probably because of its remoteness, this place doesn’t get much human interference. Our packs seemed heavier today and after ascending what seemed to be fake-flat (a term used in trail running where a flat isn’t actually flat!), we were treated to the heart of the Groot Winterhoek – a beautiful view of the 2078m peak of Groot Winterhoek. It was slow going, and after searching in vain for a place to pitch our tent at Perdevlei, we had to desperately retract our steps and find a reasonable flat opening amongst the Fynbos to make camp. We set up tent with the sun setting behind the hill we had just ascended earlier.

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Day 3 – Perdevlei to Disa Pool


This was one of the longest, yet most rewarding days on the trail. It is said there is always sun behind the cloud, and as it parted, so we really started to experience the ‘other side’ of the Groot Winterhoek – the hot, exposed days. The day started with a very tough technical climb and then an undulating meander back along towards our starting point 2 days earlier. Rock formations everywhere, one started feeling like we were walking through an antiquity of Creation – untouched and unspoilt.

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Day 4 – Disa Pool to Start


This ‘cool down’ walk back to the start where we found our vehicle and some civilization proved to be somewhat of a reflective time of the past 3 days as we took in the sun and enjoyed the flat single track. Looking back at the mountains we had just passed through cemented this experience as one we will never forget, yet somewhat toughened us up!

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Here’s to the Groot Winterhook – a wilderness of extreme contrasts, beauty all around!

copmlcitaed. RESET
Cederberg – 10-13 August 2014

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