Nestled within the Groot Winterhoek mountains, is without doubt one of the largest rock swimming pools within the Western Cape, aptly named ‘Die Hel’. Earlier than embarking on the hike, I didn’t perceive why a rock pool – a secluded piece of paradise that most likely presents the mandatory respite from the warmth of Groot Winterhoek – was referred to as ‘Die Hel’. The rationale quickly grew to become clear.
A World Heritage Web site
Die Groot Winterhoek Wilderness space is one among Cape Nature’s many reserves and a World Heritage Web site. The realm contains 30 608 hectares, of which 19 200 is a declared wilderness space, significantly necessary for the safety of mountain fynbos within the Cape floral kingdom The wilderness space can be embedded in historical past, with San rock work and relics of an previous farm established in 1875. Early settlers used the world to move produce and provides between Porterville and Saron, and their tracks are nonetheless seen.
I had by no means heard of the hike up till just lately. I discovered about it through my good friend’s father, an old-time hiker who commented that his 72-year-old physique would by no means be capable of do that once more. He sourced some previous pictures from a cabinet and confirmed me the pictures he took on his previous disposable digicam within the 80s.
After seeing the picture of a giant rockpool with a waterfall on the finish that was referred to as ‘Die Hel,’ I used to be hooked. I used to be entranced by his previous tales of kloofing within the valley.
A couple of week later, we made a last-minute reserving and set off. We arrived on the reserve, feeling nicely ready after stopping for a roosterkoek on the Piketberg Padstal.
The Hike begins with a little bit of descent however the gradient flattens as you comply with the river, which presents the mandatory respite from the scorching solar and a spot to prime up your water bottles. It’s about 15 km to the De Tronk huts, and we have been of the impression it might take 3-4 hours to get there. We didn’t ebook the huts however we have been conscious of huge oak timber close to to them, which may function a pleasant in a single day spot.
After climbing for about three hours, we arrived at a really alluring rock pool with a small waterfall the place we have been tempted to show into a pleasant lunch spot. We put down our baggage and earlier than we obtained too snug, we rapidly consulted the map to get our bearings. The hike takes longer than we initially thought and we nonetheless had about 2-3 hours to go along with an equal quantity of sunlight hours remaining.
We had earmarked the spot for our return journey once we would have extra time on our arms, as we wished to arrange camp earlier than it obtained darkish. We trailblazed the remainder of the way in which, and eventually, on the horizon, the huts and the close by oak timber beckoned.
Once we arrived on the oaks, seemingly misplaced on this fynbos atmosphere, we propped down our baggage, and I instinctively positioned the bottle of white wine within the stream to chill down and I felt grateful for my instinctive last-minute packing after I grabbed a bottle on the way in which out of the home. It was price the additional weight on my again.
Quickly, the pitfalls of our final minute packing started to emerge. We packed our sleeping baggage, however no floormat to make sleeping on the bottom a bit extra snug. So as to add to this, some ominous clouds made their means over the mountains and when darkness fell, we have been greeted by a lightning storm. We hadn’t booked the huts however determined it might be finest to remain below the safety its stoep presents.
Simply as nicely, as a result of the rain started to pour down. So with the remainder of our wine and a flask of brandy, we loved the sound of the rain falling and hoped that Olof Bergh would assist us go to sleep on the arduous flooring of the concrete stoep. It was a stressed evening, with every of us tossing and turning and a paranoid Namibian shouting “Jackals!” in the course of the evening after they heard a noise within the bush (there was no jackal).
The morning arrived and sleepless evening apart, we have been able to proceed with the additional 5 km to Die Hel. The remainder of the hike was easygoing till you get to the gorge that takes you right down to the rock pool. It’s a steep gradient that it’s important to sort out slowly. As you make your means down, you get glimpses of the rockpool and the waterfall because it begins to disclose itself.
Once we lastly made it to the pool, it was pure bliss. There was nobody else round, and we have been fairly certain we had the entire valley to ourselves all through the hike. As we plunged into the ice-cold water, we have been rejuvenated, making our means across the pool, discovering cliffs to leap off.
After a number of hours by the pool, it was time to start our lengthy trek again. We had thankfully left most of our baggage behind the huts, so we may hike the primary 5 km with relative ease with out our in a single day baggage weighing us down. Selecting up our baggage on the way in which, we pushed ourselves to get to our earmarked rock pool which we estimated to be the midway mark. The pool was occupied by a Cape clawless otter once we arrived, clearly getting some respite from the warmth as nicely. Alongside the edges of this pool, there was an abundance of the Disa flower rising, the endangered orchid and the image of the Western Cape.
After a refreshing dip and a fast lunch, we marched on in the direction of the automotive. We made it again to the final ascent, and the attractive panorama lay behind us as we made our means up. The ultimate few hundred metres down the highway to the automotive park felt excruciatingly lengthy. My legs have been shaky and I felt exhausted, and I realised why it was referred to as Die Hel. My clutch management as we began driving again was shaky, to say the least, and we have been eager for the consolation of our bathe and mattress once we obtained again house. On the drive again, mountains gave us a grand finale as we approached the cross. The massive expanse of the valley opened up earlier than us as we made our means down, and the entire expanse was painted in an orange hue. To hell and again? I’ll do it once more.
Contact Cape Nature at 087 087 8250, e mail [email protected] or you may ebook on-line right here.
There are quite a few huts with self-catering amenities that may be booked, or for many who really feel like roughing it, they will merely ebook the in a single day prices and the conservation charge.
The in a single day charges are as follows:
Self Catering Hikers fundamental in a single day huts (max 8 individuals)
Peak season: R800
Further p/p/n R70
Grownup Day Entry: R70
In a single day charge: R40
Kids Day Entry: R40
In a single day charge: R20
Getting There: Journey about an hour-and-a-half up the N7 from Cape City in the direction of Piketberg. Reverse Piketberg, take the R44 in the direction of Porterville, however as an alternative of going into Porterville on the T-junction, flip left for Cardouw on to what turns into a mud highway and head for the Dasklip Cross. Comply with the indicators to the workplace, which is on prime of the mountain and about 33 km from Porterville.
For added data, go to Cape Nature right here.