Posted by Kyle Redelinghuys in Running, Trails on August 1, 2015
After the massive morning run, I was planning a fairly relaxed hike to the gorge with the rest of the group. I found some information online, and it said it was a relaxed 7km trip. We planned to go and be back just before lunch, so didn’t pack too much food.
We drove through to Royal Natal and made our way to reception. It turns out that the gorge walk is 7km one way, which in turn double our estimated trip length. Since we didn’t bring much food with, we grabbed some from the curio shop. After signing the register we head up towards the starting point of the walk.
The Royal Natal is an incredibly beautiful reserve. There are loads of amazing hikes there, with something for every activity level. If you don’t want to hike, you can take a relaxed drive up and have a picnic – just be careful of the baboons 🙂
We set off on the walk and found ourselves in some fairly thick overhanging trees. After a short walk through the forested area, the path opened up and we started to curve around the side of the mountain. Ahead of us we could see the magnificent amphitheatre, with peaks on either side and the gorge below. As we set off, we found ourselves stopping quite often just to enjoy the incredible scenery.
The hike was really easy and non technical, with minimal vertical. Aside from one or two places where there was incline, this route was really flat with a shallow incline throughout. The path changed from open and forested and back again a few times. The forested parts were magical and lush, and would offer some respite from the sun on particularly hot days.
We eventually made it to the start of the gorge, and made our way to have some food on the dried riverbed. We found out from fellow hikers that the base of the gorge was 2.5km further up, and that to see the waterfall we would need to climb a ladder. This sounded great, but adding another 5km and ladder climbing time onto a trip that was already 2 hours longer than anticipated would not be a smart move. We decided to go through there next time on a bigger hike.
After enjoying the scenery and relaxing on the rocks for some time, we started the way back. We had gained just over 500m ascent in this hike, so the return path was quite a bit easier. We took it easy, stopping for pictures and admiration, and made it back fairly quickly. At the end of the hike my legs and feet were killing me after the morning’s intense run, so I was more than happy to make it back to the carpark.
The gorge walk is a really easy and relaxed hike, and I am definitely keen to come back and run it instead. Even if it’s relaxed, 4 hours on your feet walking can take its toll, so we all took some downtime as soon as we got back to our chalets at Apline Heath Resort. We had some pizza to top the night off, “enjoyed” some karaoke, and then we called it a night.