Sometimes you land up at places that legitimately take your breath away. It happened a few times in Cape Town, but had yet to truly happen since I moved up to Johannesburg. This past weekend, that changed.
After doing some research online, we found a few trails we hadn’t been to or heard of yet. One of them was the Uitkyk trial overlooking Hartebeespoort Dam. I’m not used to formal bookings of hikes, but apparently it’s a thing this side of town. I called and booked for the seven of us going on the trail, and on Sunday we headed off.
Hartebeespoort has such fantastic places for hikes. As we drove up to our destination, we became surrounded by peaks and rolling mountains. We drove up to the dirt road pinned by the coordinates given on our information sheet, and made our way to the parking gate. The agents behind this hike really make it easy for visitors, providing an information pack filled with necessary information (directions, GPS, etc) as well as pionts of interest along the hike.
The trail is incredibly well marked the entire way, and we head off along the path. The trail is beautiful, meandering along the hills and through thick vegetation. We soon find ourselves having to go through a tunnel that looked like it was inviting danger.
It was, of course, perfectly safe. The trail soon led us higher into the mountain, and we found ourselves overlooking a fantastic valley surrounded by rocks. It was incredible.
The trail then got very steep, very quickly. We had to climb over some rocks, and hit a 30 to 45 degree angle for the next 45 minutes or so. It was pretty tough, and doing a run on this route would be an absolute killer. The views got progressively better, and I knew the dam was over the hill so the idea of those views kept my legs going strong.
After a few breaks for the rest of the crew to recover, we head up the rocky and baron slope to reach the peak. As we summited, the breathtaking moment came. The dam was below us, surrounded by mountains and the deepest blue I’ve seen in a long time.
This hike reminded me so much of Silvermine. The landscape, the wind, the views – what a fantastic place. We took it all in for a while, went exploring around the top a little and just unwound. This is now one of my favourite places.
After a short while we started heading down again. As we were descending, we noticed some massive birds above us. Their wingspan must have been around 2 meters, and there were over two dozen of them hovering above us. We decided to not take this as any type of omen, and continued down the mountain. This part was pretty easy, and let us take a very chilled pace back down.
As far as trail running goes, this would be a pretty tough course. It goes without saying though that “tough” more often than not equals “fun”, so definitely added to my list. The route is 9km with 450m elevation gain (not total cumulative elevation gain). We finished in around three hours, so this can easily be done in a morning. For an hours drive out of Joburg, this is an incredible place. You feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, there are loads and loads of trails around here to do, and Uitkyk is fantastic for a bunch of reasons. Do yourself a favour, and make your way to the “Cape Town of the Highveld” (thanks to Dino for that gem).