These are our stories

Cederberg hike March ----- 2019

Still to come:

Simon's Town Swimming - 2018

Pura Triathlon November - 2018

Torpedo Swim November - 2018

Karoobaix Karoo October - 2017

2 Day Cederberg Hike

We drove up from Cape Town the day before the hike and spent the night camping at Jamaka Organic Farm & Resort. As the time for the hike loomed closer, I was getting more and more anxious, largely due to the many unknowns. We were unsure of the terrain and the distances and as a result had no idea how long we would be walking. We planned to start from Algeria at about 8am. The lovely ladies at the Cape Nature office in Algeria had suggested that we walk via Die Gat on the first day and return via Middelberg on the second day. They also suggested driving for the first 5kms and leaving the car there, but the only problem would be getting back to the car after the hike. We decided that it would be easier to walk the first 5km. The permit to sleep on the mountain at Crystal Pools was sorted so we were all set to go. We had not bought dry food with us so we had to use the food we had brought for camping. Our staples for day events are always boiled eggs, baby potatoes in garlic butter and peanut butter bars, and these would be a good start to the planning of our meals and snacks for the next 2 days. A few other items were added, as well as 6l s of water, a small flask of coffee and some Old Brown sherry. We were packed and ready to go.

Day 1

We left the camp a little late and started walking at 9.35am from the Algeria campsite. The first 4.5km stretch was fairly flat and rather pleasant alongside the Rondegat River. We started climbing towards Die Gat, ‘the hole’, which is the head of the deep ravine. For much of the winter days it remains in deep shadow, hence the name.

Half way up to Die Gat

Eddie at the start of our walk

The climb was quite a challenge but that was only 8 or 9kms in. Once at the top it was back to consulting the Slingsby map to ensure that we were heading in the right direction.

We made our way across Grootlandvlakte towards Crystal Pools, contemplating Die Groot Hartseer. Looking at the contours and mulling over the name, it seemed like it certainly was going to be “heartbreaking”! Our bodies were beginning to take strain, especially our feet. Just before Die Groot Hartseer we crossed a stream that looked perfect for filling our water bottles. After crossing the stream we turned around to fill the bottles only to notice a tiny adder in the water where we had just stepped. He just lay there checking us out, as Eddie filled the bottles and I kept a close eye on him. The water was magnificent! It was cool and refreshing and it was a relief to know that we were able to drink with no worry of running out of water.

We were totally unsure of what to expect from Die Groot Hartseer. The trail didn’t seem too bad at the start, but then the short, gruelling climb began. The steep ascent caused us both much ‘heartache’. I really struggled through the many switch-backs and long vegetation and had to stop numerous times to catch my breath and have a little cry.

The top of Grootlandvlakte

Die Groot Hartseer

Poor Eddie had some anxious moments, wondering whether I was going to be able to reach the top, as I cried, through my tears, that I was not cut out for this and was not able to go on. He told me later that he thought he had lost me at that point and was beginning to consider putting me over his shoulder and carrying me the rest of the way. It had been a long day of walking already and it was just too much for me. However, when you have no choice you just have to keep going, one step at a time.

We once again crossed over a flat piece of land and were desperately and hopefully looking for the Crystal pools around every corner. Instead we were faced with another climb, not large, but large enough for me to want to collapse in a heap and cry once again.

Soon after getting to the top of this climb, we noticed the Crystal Pools overnight hut. We were beside ourselves thinking that the pools must be nearby. However, we walked some more, and a bit more, looking for the pools. They were nowhere to be found. What a disappointment! After checking the map carefully once again, we realised that we had walked passed them before the last little climb and we had to go back down to find them. How absolutely wonderful it was to spot the pools. We had covered 18.7 km, taking us 8 hours.

It was such a relief to get our boots off and drop our packs. We both jumped into the ‘fresh’ water, exhausted and sore, but so happy to clean and refresh our tired and sweaty bodies. The pools were a highlight and we were overjoyed to have eventually found them. Having a little sundowner of Old Brown next to the pools made it even more special. Eddie had spotted an enormous rock on the flat ground nearby that looked perfect for setting up camp. We only saw later that this was a popular spot for past hikers to camp. We put up our little tent and proceeded to enjoy our delightful dinner, as the light at the top of the Cederberg faded. Our tent was cosy, because we were reluctant to leave the packs outside where visitors could slither into them.

Our camp site

The ground was hard, we were slightly squashed up and our bodies were sore, which resulted in very little sleep. However, it was so beautiful and peaceful in the wilderness with a full moon adding to the magic. Eddie spent some time during the night looking out of the little gauze window enjoying the calm, still night and contemplating life.

Day 2

We both woke up early but it was still very dark out so we had to wait patiently for a while before the day could begin. It seemed like it was not getting any lighter at all so we packed up inside the tent in order to move as soon as there was the slightest sign of dawn. We eventually left at 6.30.

It was absolutely stunning up there at that time. The moon was still up and the light on those rocks was just magnificent.


We walked some time before the sun came up, which was fortunate, since it was predicted to get to 36 degrees. We made our way back the way we had come; back down Die Groot Hartseer again, which was even a challenge going down, and back to the stream to refill the bottles and then across the ‘vlakte’. We came to the split which was going to take us up towards Middelberg along the Grootlandsvlakte hiking trail. We stopped for breakfast after the first climb. It was beautiful to look over the landscape, enjoy a few treats and share a small cup of coffee, since we had to ration ourselves. I found the walk from there to Middelberg hut extremely challenging. This was largely due to the nature of the trail, which was thick vegetation that scratched my body to pieces.

We could also not see where we were putting our feet on the path. All I could think of were the puffies hiding out of sight. We got to the Middelberg hut sooner than we had anticipated. We sat in the shade of the trees at the hut sharing another small coffee before we made our way along the path leading to ‘Die Waterval’. The end was in sight! We were both in pain and were looking forward to getting home to our tent. The waterfall descent was more than I had expected, although after consulting the map, Eddie had warned me that it would challenge our bodies. We eventually got to the waterfall and it was heavenly. Sitting in the shade of the mountain with the water cascading down, made it cool and calming. We could have stayed there for ages, but were anxious to get to the end, so off we went again.

3 Disa on the waterfall

Die Waterval

We could see the campsite, but there was still some way to go. I was dreaming of the cold Coke that I was going enjoy as soon as I got to the Cape Nature office. That last bit seemed to take ages. Much moaning about sore feet and aching bodies could be heard between the two of us. Eventually we reached the car and were able to offload the packs. We had covered 15.7km on Day 2, which had taken us 6 hours.

Day 1


Day 2

Our bodies were aching and exhausted and it was hugely challenging for me, but it was great. We enjoyed a soak in the stream at our campsite at Jamaka, as we pondered all we had achieved and endured over the last two days. Eddie as always, was patient, kind and encouraging, especially when I was falling apart at the seams. I said to Eddie that I had done my Cederberg experience and I would never be back. However, I am now looking at another, longer hike in the Cederberg wilderness in the future. Upon reflection one realizes that you are much stronger than you thought and challenges make one even stronger! I am hugely excited for our next adventure, especially if it is challenging enough to make me cry.

*** The End ***


(still to come)

 Simon's Town swim from North Beach to the wall and back
 Karoobaix 395km 2 day trek