The Belfast and Dullstroom areas of Mpumalanga Province are home to some of the most beautiful but little-known areas of South Africa. The area sits on the edge of the Drakensberg escarpment where many gurgling brooks start their life as crystal-clear streams that flow over stunning waterfalls. The town of Belfast is traditionally associated as a center of farming, but its recent history has been overtaken by the development of open cast coal mining. Not far from the town but a world away from its scarred exploitation by humans lies the natural beauty of the Rapids Trail.
The trail was originally developed by Chris Lerm in the heyday of the Roodepoort Hiking Club and fond memories remain of my early experiences of my walks on this trail. The old South African Railways fiberglass igloo that served as the basecamp and the beautiful riverine forest with its numerous cascades, pools and the magnificent waterfall are just part of those memories that will remain with me into my stoep days of recollections of days of hiking in our land.
After many years of neglect and eventual closure the farm changed ownership and 2015 saw the redevelopment and re-opening of this trail.
There is currently a one-day single trail hiking route that forms the basis of the Rapids trail, which should be on every hiker’s must-do list, from a bias point of few off course. The Igloo, although still evident – no longer is in use, but rather tented accommodation – quaint and built especially for you.
6km Waterfall Route:
Upon your visit to the Rapids Country Estate, the 6km Yellow Trail (Waterfall Route) starts by taking you on an exploration of the riverine forest through which the Langspruit stream flows. You can only stand in awe at the wonderland that has been created by the forces of nature over millions of years. Moss covered boulders create obstacles in the stream that in turn, creates cataracts and deep pools of cool crystal-clear water that beckon the brave of you to go for a dip. A myriad of forest vegetation serves to provide excitement to your eyes as you explore along this deep sided gorge that culminates in a visit to the stunning waterfall, where you will experience the roar – from the crash of water at the bottom of the falls, whilst enjoying a magical picnic at the half way point! (Definitely recommended). From here, you can retrace your steps crossing numerous bridges along the way as you make your way back to your basecamp and the end of an amazing experience of the wonders of nature.
The highlights of this trail must be the gorge through which the Langspruit flows, the magnificent waterfall and the craggy rock peaks. The fact that this trail is relatively close to Gauteng is a bonus.
- 1-day base camp trail
Our tented bush camp lies in the heart of Rapids Country Estate.
This campsite comprises of 2 platforms with 2 tents, thus accommodating 4 people in total. Each tent has 2 single beds with the necessary bedding and towels. The main area houses the ablution blocks that comprises of 3 flush toilets and 3 showers with hot water, which is provided by means of a hot-water donkey – wood is provided. There is also a boma/ fire pit to enjoy a warm fire-ambiance under the stars or to use for a braai/barbeque.
- 2 Tents sleeping 2 each (4 in total)/
- Each tent comprises of 2 x single beds
- 1 bedside table per tent
- Bedding per person/single bed
- Towels per person
- Paraffin lamp for each tent
- 1 LED flash light per tent
- 2 x camping chairs per tent
- Weber Braai (not gas)
- Outdoor basin with water supply for dishwashing purposes.
- Crockery and cutlery for 4 people
- 1 x Cast iron pot
- 1 x Kettle (to use on fire)
- NO ELECRICITY
- Flush toilets
- 3 showers (warm water, hot-water donkey)
Where is it:
- Close to the Mpumalanga town of Belfast
- Turnoff to farm S25 37.832 E29 57.282
What should I know about security?
The Rapids Trail is on a private well-fenced estate on a quiet farm road. No evidence of any security problem exists.
How fit do I need to be?
The trail is relatively short and should be managed by persons of moderate fitness level and children from the age of 10.
For those who fancy a more upmarket form of accommodation there are fully equipped self-catering chalets for rent.
- R350.00 per night – Tented camp
- R120.00 per night – U/15
- R600.00 per night – Chalet
- R70.00 pp – Day Visitors
- R20.00 U/16 – Day Visitors
- R55.00 once of admin fee per reservation.