I’d heard quite a bit about the King’s Kloof trails, and after doing some quick research it seemed like an amazing place. Five different trails, all with varying difficulty. This Sunday we had a great group of people, old and new, and head out bright and early.
On following the directions to go “behind the farm stall and go through the entrance there”, we managed to find it surprisingly easily. As we enquired about where the hikes were, we were first half-shouted at by the lady at the canteen (who is fantastic) and then told the trails are closed for renovation. After building up this hike and driving for an hour to get there, we were bleak. Seeing our bleakness, we were told we could call the owner and ask nicely if we could use the trails. She promptly agreed, we thanked profusely, and she just asked we be out by 16:00.
Due to the trails being renovated, there was a lot of guessing from the outset with this hike. We had very vague and general directions of where to go, and once we go to “the fence by close to the bridge” we were basically on our own. We saw where the trail markings were supposed to be, but no indication of the trail. Personally, I thought this was the ideal situation and brought some fantastic adventure spirit into this hike.
After meandering on the path below, we found it heading further away from the mountain. Not knowing where to find additional paths, we decided to just head straight towards where we wanted to be. This is my favourite type of hiking and trail running: find a mark, set a goal, and move as directly as you can. This was quite a rough route, and involved a lot of climbing and rough terrain. One word of caution: always be careful of loose rocks. One of the hikers stepped on a loose rock and it rolled down behind him. In this case the rock was about 1.5 meters in diameter so there was some definite danger involved. Luckily, no one was in the path of the falling rock and we continued up uninjured.
After making it to the ridge, we walked across to take some of the sights in. This place in incredible. There are such fantastic rolling hills, and what feels like unexplored territory. We saw a river down below a very steep descent, and decided that to be our next way point. The descent varied between 45 and 60 degrees, so nothing to take too lightly. We made it happily to the bottom, sliding in some places down slate rock. One of the hikers said he heard a sound like “a coke bottle opening”. After a second he registered that this was, in fact, a snake hissing. He jumped and promptly made his way down to the rest of us. Danger #2 avoided, but another close call.
The river was fantastic to sit next to and has loads of mini waterfalls along, all the way down to the bottom where there is an enclosed beach-like area. Unfortunately we couldn’t get there on foot, but we still got great views from above. We headed up and around, going back up the mountain on the other end. There was more technical climbing on some very slippery slate rock, followed by more rock scrambling.
The descent back was easy, except for the thick vegetation we landed in. It was pretty difficult to make our way down again, especially with the lack of a defined direction. The multitude of thorn trees that kept catching my arms and legs also added to the difficulty, but this is a fantastic type of trail to hike. We eventually found our way back to a path, which we now assumed was one of the real hiking paths, and made our way to the car. It took a good fifteen minutes to de-blackjack ourselves and check for ticks.
I’m not sure if this hike would be allowed to be done again, unless we can ask special permission from the fantastic farm owners. This is my favourite hike so far. The difficulty, elements of danger, and sense of adventure make it stand out on top.