Carolina, Mpumalanga

This little hidden gem is a must on your hiking list.  Kranskloof hiking trail is a stunning trail that combines gorges, streams and the Highveld plateaus that offer beautiful vistas of the surrounding landscape.  The Kranskloof trails are in the Komati Gorge Nature Reserve and therefore one can expect to see zebras, eland, wildebeests, kudu, mountain reedbuck, blesboks, red hartebeests, waterbuck, duikers, klipspringers, warthogs, baboons, monkeys and otters. Porcupines, polecats, civets, caracal, serval, brown hyenas, have all been seen and some years ago hikers reported seeing a leopard. The area is a twitchers paradise with the combination of Highveld birds and those in the bush including the narina trogon, purple crested turaco (loerie) and the Knysna turaco (loerie). The gushing waterfalls, fast-flowing mountain streams, swimming spots indigenous trees, shrubs, veld flowers make Kranskloof a must for those who love the outdoors and nature.

Richard, the very friendly manager of the camp and the trail, welcomes you and takes you to the secluded camp, hidden in the bush near a waterfall and a small dam. He will see that you have adequate firewood for your braai and for the donkey. He also cleans the camp and maintains the trail himself.

Basecamp:

The Kranskloof basecamp is hidden beautifully away in indigenous bush and is built from the local rock.  Nearby is a perennial little waterfall a mere 70m away from camp, where the water cascades to offer an exhilarating shower in summer months.  The calming sounds of the waterfall is soothing to the soul.  Well behaved dogs are welcome but please be aware that this is a nature reserve and there are things out there that can be hurt and can hurt your animals. Dogs are not permitted at Komati Gorge Lodge.

Overnight Facilities:

Kranskloof:
  • 3 rock huts with 8 bunk beds and mattress.
  • Total number of hikers is 24.
  • Small lapa
Ablution facilities:
  • Donkey boiler for hot water.
  • 2 x showers;
  • 2 x Flushing toilets; and
  • 2 x Basins.
Undercover kitchen:
  • 2-plate gas cooker
  • Pots, pans and 3 legged potjies,
  • Braai facilities and wood.

The Trails:

Both trails are base camp trails so all you need to take is your day pack, camera, binoculars and walking stick. The weather can change rapidly so always take something warm and something to keep you dry.

Kranskloof Trail

The Kranskloof trail is a tough, very well marked and clean 7km trail that rewards you with magnificent views of mountains, waterfalls, rock pools, kloofs, wild life and exquisite bird life.  The start of the trail is from the Kranskloof basecamp and follows the river downstream. After about 400 metres there is a sharp turn to the right with a steep climb out of the valley. From here the trail generally follows the line of the krans for the next 2,5kms. This is also a steady but stiff climb of over 220 metres to 1661m

The juice is worth the squeeze.  The views are magnificent and you can stop and watch the jackal buzzard hunting below you. You should also, if you are quiet, see antelope in the kloof and if you are very quiet, and it is early, and you are lucky. Maybe even a bush pig family.

The trail then turns sharply to the left and down through a small gorge with stepping stones to make the climb down a bit easier. Although the next section is only a few hundred metres, it is quite challenging as it hugs the red cliffs where Bushman undoubtedly overnighted many years ago.

The next several kms of the trail is the most beautiful as you hike along a river, with so many rock pools and picnic sites to choose from.  You could spend the whole day there.

Once you leave the river, there are 2 challenging hills through forests. From the top of the second climb it is an easy and flat stroll of about 600 m back to the camp.

Komati Trail:

This trail is particularly interesting as it goes through the ruins of some BaKoni kraals. However, for wildlife lovers, this is an exciting trail as you will see a lot of game.

The start of this trail is over the wall of the little dam below the camp. There is a steep but short climb which gives you a view over the camp. The trail mostly follows the stream as you climb gently uphill for 1,5km. Look out for klipspringers in the rocks on the left, kudus in the bush on the right and mountain reedbuck hiding in the long grass.

The best part of this trail is from the top of the hill for the next 3kms.It is easy walking with a number of ridges which give you cover to get good sightings of the wildebeests, eland, waterbuck and zebras. Just after you emerge from the wattle planation you will see some old and very big gum tress. See if you can see the fish eagles nest or even the fish eagle in the second tree from the west. Below that you enter warthog country so be wary if the grass is long. You walk past some dams mostly overgrown with reeds but giving the perfect habitat for hundreds of bishops and many other species.

Beyond that you join the beautiful Komati River. You might want to join the otters in the pool at the bend for a swim. They are regularly sighted but melt away at the slightest noise or movement.

From there it is uphill for 2kms with some twists and turns and the opportunity to see wildebeests, zebras and blesboks. The trail also goes through a BaKoni kraal. For a few hundred metres you join the jeep track before turning sharp right back onto the path down to the camp which is only half a kilometre on where a swim in the dam or a shower under the waterfall awaits you.

Conclusion:

The Kranskloof trail is an extremely beautiful trail but not suitable for people unsteady on their feet. Children love the trail for the many crystal clear swimming pools.  Although the trail is only 7kms, the average slope is 11,8% so you will be tested. The suggestion is that you should take your time and enjoy the vista and also the swimming pools.

The Komati trail is slightly longer and less taxing but equally as rewarding.

Both trails have been extremely well marked by Richard and you don’t need a map.  If you don’t see a marker every 50m then back track as you have missed a turn.

Length/Duration:

Day trails from Kranskloof:

  • Kranskloof Trail – 7 km
  • Komati River Trail – 7 km

Pertinent Information:

  • Supply own lights. There are lanterns and candles in the huts
  • Tick repellent;
  • During heavy rains, water is released from the Nooitgedacht Dam, flooding the bridges for about an hour. Contact Richard for the alternative route
  • 4×4 vehicles are recommended for access to Kranskloof base camp.
  • The dirt road is driveable with a car with a high axle up until Richard’s house where you may park your car and Richard will take you down to basecamp.

Location of Trail:

  • 33 km from Carolina;
  • 250 km from Gauteng.

Rates:

  • R200.00 pp.pn
  • R100.00 pp.pn – U/12
  • R1000.00 per night on top of per person rate for exclusivity of camp.
  • R100.00 pp – Day Visitors – Adult
  • R50.00 pp – Day Visitors – U/12
  • R55.00 admin fee once off per reservation

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Kranskloof Hiking Trail
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