Nestled within the Groot Winterhoek mountains, is without doubt one of the largest rock swimming pools within the Western Cape, aptly named ‘Die Hel’. Earlier than embarking on the hike, I didn’t perceive why a rock pool – a secluded piece of paradise that most likely provides the mandatory respite from the warmth of Groot Winterhoek – was known as ‘Die Hel’. The explanation quickly turned clear.
A World Heritage Website
Die Groot Winterhoek Wilderness space is certainly one of Cape Nature’s many reserves and a World Heritage Website. The world contains 30 608 hectares, of which 19 200 is a declared wilderness space, significantly necessary for the safety of mountain fynbos within the Cape floral kingdom The wilderness space can be embedded in historical past, with San rock work and relics of an outdated farm established in 1875. Early settlers used the world to move produce and provides between Porterville and Saron, and their tracks are nonetheless seen.
I had by no means heard of the hike up till just lately. I discovered about it by way of my good friend’s father, an old-time hiker who commented that his 72-year-old physique would by no means have the ability to do that once more. He sourced some outdated images from a cabinet and confirmed me the images he took on his outdated disposable digicam within the 80s.
After seeing the picture of a giant rockpool with a waterfall on the finish that was known as ‘Die Hel,’ I used to be hooked. I used to be entranced by his outdated tales of kloofing within the valley.
A couple of week later, we made a last-minute reserving and set off. We arrived on the reserve, feeling effectively ready after stopping for a roosterkoek on the Piketberg Padstal.
The Hike begins with a little bit of descent however the gradient flattens as you observe the river, which provides the mandatory respite from the scorching solar and a spot to high up your water bottles. It’s about 15 km to the De Tronk huts, and we had been of the impression it will take 3-4 hours to get there. We didn’t guide the huts however we had been conscious of enormous oak bushes close to to them, which may function a pleasant in a single day spot.
After climbing for about three hours, we arrived at a really alluring rock pool with a small waterfall the place we had been tempted to show into a pleasant lunch spot. We put down our luggage and earlier than we obtained too snug, we rapidly consulted the map to get our bearings. The hike takes longer than we initially thought and we nonetheless had about 2-3 hours to go along with an equal quantity of daytime remaining.
We had earmarked the spot for our return journey once we would have extra time on our arms, as we needed to arrange camp earlier than it obtained darkish. We trailblazed the remainder of the way in which, and eventually, on the horizon, the huts and the close by oak bushes beckoned.
After we arrived on the oaks, seemingly misplaced on this fynbos setting, we propped down our luggage, and I instinctively positioned the bottle of white wine within the stream to chill down and I felt grateful for my instinctive last-minute packing after I grabbed a bottle on the way in which out of the home. It was price the additional weight on my again.
Quickly, the pitfalls of our final minute packing started to emerge. We packed our sleeping luggage, however no floormat to make sleeping on the bottom a bit extra snug. So as to add to this, some ominous clouds made their means over the mountains and when darkness fell, we had been greeted by a lightning storm. We hadn’t booked the huts however determined it will be greatest to remain below the safety its stoep provides.
Simply as effectively, as a result of the rain started to pour down. So with the remainder of our wine and a flask of brandy, we loved the sound of the rain falling and hoped that Olof Bergh would assist us go to sleep on the onerous ground of the concrete stoep. It was a stressed night time, with every of us tossing and turning and a paranoid Namibian shouting “Jackals!” in the midst of the night time after they heard a noise within the bush (there was no jackal).
The morning arrived and sleepless night time apart, we had been able to proceed with the additional 5 km to Die Hel. The remainder of the hike was easygoing till you get to the gorge that takes you right down to the rock pool. It’s a steep gradient that it’s a must to deal with slowly. As you make your means down, you get glimpses of the rockpool and the waterfall because it begins to disclose itself.
After we lastly made it to the pool, it was pure bliss. There was nobody else round, and we had been fairly positive we had the entire valley to ourselves all through the hike. As we plunged into the ice-cold water, we had been rejuvenated, making our means across the pool, discovering cliffs to leap off.
After a couple of hours by the pool, it was time to start our lengthy trek again. We had fortuitously left most of our luggage behind the huts, so we may hike the primary 5 km with relative ease with out our in a single day luggage weighing us down. Selecting up our luggage on the way in which, we pushed ourselves to get to our earmarked rock pool which we estimated to be the midway mark. The pool was occupied by a Cape clawless otter once we arrived, clearly getting some respite from the warmth as effectively. Alongside the edges of this pool, there was an abundance of the Disa flower rising, the endangered orchid and the image of the Western Cape.
After a refreshing dip and a fast lunch, we marched on in direction of the automobile. We made it again to the final ascent, and the attractive panorama lay behind us as we made our means up. The ultimate few hundred metres down the street to the automobile park felt excruciatingly lengthy. My legs had been shaky and I felt exhausted, and I realised why it was known as Die Hel. My clutch management as we began driving again was shaky, to say the least, and we had been eager for the consolation of our bathe and mattress once we obtained again residence. On the drive again, mountains gave us a grand finale as we approached the cross. The big expanse of the valley opened up earlier than us as we made our means down, and the entire expanse was painted in an orange hue. To hell and again? I’ll do it once more.
Contact Cape Nature at 087 087 8250, e-mail [email protected] or you may guide on-line right here.
There are quite a few huts with self-catering amenities that may be booked, or for individuals who really feel like roughing it, they’ll merely guide the in a single day prices and the conservation payment.
The in a single day charges are as follows:
Self Catering Hikers primary in a single day huts (max 8 individuals)
Peak season: R800
Extra p/p/n R70
Grownup Day Entry: R70
In a single day payment: R40
Youngsters Day Entry: R40
In a single day payment: R20
Getting There: Journey about an hour-and-a-half up the N7 from Cape City in direction of Piketberg. Reverse Piketberg, take the R44 in direction of Porterville, however as an alternative of going into Porterville on the T-junction, flip left for Cardouw on to what turns into a mud street and head for the Dasklip Cross. Observe the indicators to the workplace, which is on high of the mountain and about 33 km from Porterville.
For added info, go to Cape Nature right here.