Zip X hiking trails are situated 40 km out of Middelbyrg Mpumalanga on the N11 road to Groblersdal. The routes in this area is nestled in the mountains overlooking Loskop Dam, and being on the escarpment, varies from 1450 meters above sea level to 950 meters.
There is unique tree species in the area, specifically cycads, and an abundance of birds and other wildlife may be spotted. Strange geological formations can be found, and there is even an incredibly old abandoned mine where crystals can be picked up.
Hels River Trail:
The trail starts at Zip X reception at an altitude of 1381 agl, Follow down a road for 1 km until you do a sharp decend to the Hels River. Already an abundance of cycads (Encephalartos Lanatus) can be seen. Mountain Ribbok and Klipspringer may also be encountered. You then follow the flow of the river for 5 km where Hels River runs into the Olifants River. Altitude 1029 meters agl, you have then just descended 352 meters. On a sandy bank you will find a sheltered campsite under dense trees consisting of 2 x dome tents, a canvass canopy, chairs and a table, water bin, kettle, and braai rooster. The campsite is situated on the border with Loskop Dam nature Reserve, and there are no fences. There is a pit toilet available, and the water of the Hels River is fresh to drink. During this hike you will have to do a lot of rock-hopping, and hike through rock pools where the sheer cliffs makes it impossible to stay dry. The pools mare shallow, and easy to go through. There is one pool however where you cannot hike through like the others, it is too deep. A 2-man canoe with life jackets can be found at the entrance of the pool and can be used to transfer all hikers and equipment safely to the other side.
The highly endangered cycad species, Encephalartos Middelburgensis, can be seen, and you may have constant company during this hike from the local baboons and apes. Bushpig, Kudu and various bird species have been encountered, and rock python and green water snakes have also been spotted. Be aware of hippos, crocodiles, rhinos, and buffalo at the campsite. Excellent fishing can be done at the Olifants river.
Take sleeping bags, mattresses, eating utensils, and food and drinks. Water from Hels river is drinkable, water from Olifants River is not.
The same route is taken back, and one-way this trail is 5,5 kms. long. It is rated as very difficult. A guide is normally provided, but the trail can also be done without one if you are experienced enough.
The trail starts at Zip X reception at an altitude of 1381 agl, the route follows a trail up the koppie and along the ridge up to the top of the cliffs overlooking the Hels River. A scramble down the cliffs follow, ropes installed where it is necessary. Succulents and aloe species can be seen, along with Cycad Lanatus. The hike then follows the bottom end of the cliffs down into the Hels River. Follow down the river for half a kilometre and turn right into the kloof section of this trail. Halfway up the kloof an abandoned mine can be seen, and quartz crystals can be picked up for a souvenir. The way up the kloof section is steep and rocky, and you hike in shade most of the time. There is a crystal-clear stream of water that runs most of the year, except in middle of the winter. The water is pure and drinkable,
Mountain Ribbok, Klipspringer, Bushpig and Kudu may be seen, and the call of the fish eagle will be heard.
The highest point of this trail is 1418 meters agl, and the lowest is 1142 meters, a 276-meter difference in altitude.
The Kranskloof trail is only 4,6 kms. long, but the terrain is difficult. To make this route more accessible to hikers, it can also be done in 2 sections, the Krans section, and the Kloof section.
A small ablution block has recently been built to accommodate hikers that want to stay in the area for more than one day. You can pitch your tent, or set up your camping trailer, and experience the silence of the open fields, with a nice fire going to cater for the braaivleis later.
No electricity at these sites. The road to get to this site is tough, only off-road campers and caravans will be able to get there.
You need to bring everything for camping. Wood to be brought.
2 nights overnight in camp:
- R600.00 pp – guide included
- R450.00 pp – self guide
Helsriver 1 day / Kranskloof 1 day
- R385.00 pp – guide inlcuded
- R225.00 pp – self guide
Camping at Zip X:
- R225.00 per tent
- R70.00 pp – additional 2 people.
- R55.00 once off per reservation.