Driving up Sir Lowry pass from the low plains east of Cape Town, we did not realize we were right on the western side of the nature reserve that we had decided to visit that day. At the entrance gate near Nuweberg, the lady at the gate told us no food was available in the park, so we returned to Grabouw to do some shopping. We had to complete a form to get a permit to enter; the lady did not seem to really know what she was talking about, so we guessed that we should be able to do the 11km hike as indicated on the map we bought in four hours. We parked our car on a small spot, took some warm clothes, and were finally off on the Sneeukop Road, a jeep trail leading through the landscape of Hottentots Holland nature reserve.
We first walked through a forest, saw the beautiful protea flowers, had to jump over rocks to cross a river where once a bridge had been, noticing that the dirt track was leading always higher. A few rain drops were falling, and we wondered if it would really rain later on. The sky was grey; everything seemed possible, and in mountains, the weather is even less predictable. When we reached a turnoff for the Boegoekloof on our right, we started to realize that the distances on the map were different from what we had thought before and that the loop we wanted to do, would be much more than the 11km we had anticipated. We made ourselves a sandwich, and continued hiking through the Hottentots Holland mountains. To our surprise, the road was always climbing; the views were always better, and when we stopped to look back, we saw the upper part of the cliffs of the Boegoe canyon, fynbos covering the mountains around us, and in the distance, the large Theewaterskloof dam reservoir. We passed some curious rock formations, sometimes vertical grey pillars, sometimes strangely shaped rocks, balancing on another rock. Hottentots Holland nature reserve seemed deserted: we did not see another person, we did not see animals.
The higher, and the further north we hiked, we knew it would take longer to return, and we started calculating about the time needed. When we reached Shamrock Lodge within two hours after starting out from Nuweberg, we assumed we would have just enough time to hike back. Here, the jeep track we had been hiking ended, and we were now on a real trail, the Palmietpad, which was easy to follow. We stopped frequently to enjoy the views of Hottentots Holland nature reserve around us, always more rock formations, different plants and flowers, and sweeping views of the rugged mountains. We reached an unnamed pass, and from there, it was always downhill, with views of the Eikenhof dam lake and the forest below. Despite the overcast sky - it had never started raining - we reached the car before darkness, with a sense of accomplishment. The poor lady at the gate turned out to be worried because we were more than half an hour later than we had guessed - at least she was happy to see us, while we wondered if she ever walked the loop we had done. It was time to go: we were starving, and deserved a copious dinner.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve (South Africa). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. Read more about this site.