Steytlerville, Eastern Cape
Five days trail (56 km) with shorter options of 3 or 4 days
Maximum number of hikers: 8
Difficulty: Moderate. Only the section through the poort is rather rough and tiring
Location: 150 km from PE; 305 km from George; 700 km from Cape Town; 610 km from Bloemfontein
The new Grootrivier Poort hiking trail is situated in the remote area between Steytlerville and Patensie, in the western part of the Eastern Cape’s Groot-Winterhoek Maintains. The full route is a 5-day circular hike and runs over two large farms. The scenic landscape is quite similar to the Baviaanskloof area. The trail is an initiative of Hannes Horn from the Bucklands farm and Bennie Rathbone from Hadley farm.
The trail starts and ends at Bucklands, and for hikers coming from afar, there is a fully equipped cottage available for the night before the hike begins (see the cost mentioned above). Here the farm people can also supply food and drinks by prior arrangement.
Relative level and easy route through open landscape along paths. But there is a long uphill or two towards the Ghê-Ghê hut. This is a restored shepherd’s cottage with a veranda.
Ghê-Ghê hut is a restored stone cottage with thick mattresses, eating utensils (8 of each), saucepans, a nice luxury open air shower, flush toilet, a table with chairs, small gas stove, veranda, firewood and braai grid. Bring along: Own sleeping bag and pillow, towel, toilet paper, own stove.
A footpath takes hikers up and over Paardenberg. From here, there are panoramic views over the prominent Cockscomb mountain to the east. On the slopes there are beautiful wildflowers, and even a cycad or two. Then the route goes downhill, partly on a jeep track, to Gooseberry, a fully equipped cottage.
Gooseberry hut is a fully equipped cottage for self-catering, with bedding, all kitchen amenities, electricity, hot water, braai and firewood. Bring along: Food and sleeping gear. Braai packs and drinks can be arranged before-hand through the group leader with the owner, Bennie.
Also a relative easy hike on a jeep track and footpaths. The route runs through the mountains and ravines in a scenic area until you reach the next hut, Afdak. This is also a fully equipped cottage underneath some trees, with a nice veranda. Here, the donkeys will turn around.
Afdak hut is a fully equipped self-catering cottage with bedding and all kitchen amenities, gas stove, hot water, firewood and braai grid. Bring along: Own food.
From here hikers enter the Grootrivier Poort and walk all along the river, with sky-high cliffs on both sides, big trees, a variety of plants and many birds. The river is crossed 3 times (without taking off your shoes or clothes), with plenty swimming opportunities. Lunch can be enjoyed in Rooibaadjie se Grot. From here it is not far to Oom Ben se Kamp on the banks of the river.
Oom Ben se Kamp is very basic overnight facilities with only hammocks underneath a big canvas, a table, seating, fireplace, braai grid, firewood and field toilet. Bring along: Food, stove, pots, cutlery, towel, toilet paper and sleeping gear – also a hikers’ mattress and ground sheet if you prefer sleeping on the ground.
The route follows the poort further, past Blougat Cave. There are another 5 dry foot river crossings. After about 3 km, the poort opens up and you walk further along farm roads to the end of the trail and your vehicles.
The night before the hike starts (optional) at Bucklands farm:
Fully equipped cottage (for self-catering) with bedding, electricity, kitchen amenities and hot water. Meals and drinks can be arranged by prior notice.
Other necessaries for the hike:
Blitz for lighting the fire, sun hat, sunscreen, swimming costume, hiking stick, good hiking shoes, camera and all other hiking gear.
- R250.00 pp – Night before the hike (optional, s/c cottage at Bucklands)
- R250.00 pp.pd – huts and 1 field camp = R1000
- R55.00 once off per reservation.