Orange Kloof is the huge kloof lying above Constantia Nek. You get a good view of the kloof from the ridge on the Vlakkenberg (see here for a description is this route). Orange Kloof has not been burnt since 1935 and up until pretty relatively recently was a no go area for the general upblic. It is now open to parties of 12. A permit must be obtained from Sanparks and you should be aware that the rules around this number of 12 are inconsistent, depending on who you are talking to. The word on the permit are also inconsistent with the information we were given.
We went up in April 2012 and the weather was somewhat cloudy which both detracted from the view and made it more interesting. Unlike most routes we did not do a circular route but exited at the Woodhead Dam and stayed over at the SMC Hut. This also took explanation to Sanparks who initially struggled to grasp the idea. Our guide was Mark, who was very interesting and helpful. We left from Constantia Nek at 12.30 and walked along the road, passing the Waterworks housing on the left. Mark stopped quite frequently to explain aspects of the history of the Kloof and plants to the scouts. After about 2 hours of walking on the road we stopped for a break, more or less at the highest point.
To the right a path goes up into Disa Kloof so after that break we left the road and really struck out into the wild. The Disa river runs from the Woodhead Dam on the left of the path up and the forests in Disa Kloof are true Afro-Montane, beautifully thick and rich. After about 45 minutes we dumped our packs on the path and went down to see the entrance to the Woodhead Tunnel, crossing an old and very rickety bridge and descending into Disa Kloof itself. The entrance is still beautiful and a true monument to the old Scottish stone masons who built the tunnel. After a short time there we returned to our packs and went on up into the clouds. It was awesome to walk in the clouds with the thick forest on the left. We did not get to Hell’s Gates which are actually in the Disa Kloof itself. It would be interesting to do this as according to Mark there is a route to Hells Gates and then on up to the Woodhead Tunnel itself, rather than on the left side of the kloof where we walked. Another day prehaps…
Further up and after some twists in the kloof the Woodhead Dam wall reared itself up above us. The foot of the dam wall is heavily overgrown with brambles and an approach to the foot can be quite a painful experience if you are not careful. After a few minutes at the wall, we walked up to the top via the path on the left. We reached the top at 4pm so the total hike was 3.5 hours with quite a lot of stops along the way. Mark left us at this point to go down Constantia Nek and the scouts headed to the SMC hut for the night.
The second day we had planned to hike across the top of the mountain to Maclear’s Beacon, visiting some of the valleys but the weather was entirely unco-operative giving us whiteout conditions for the whole day. As a result we spent the whole day in the hut, playing cards and hoping for the weather to lift. Vain hope!
On the third day the clouds lifted at about 9.am and we just had time to clean the hut up and do a quick side trip into the Valley of the Red Gods and Isolation Valley before turning and doing a high speed descent via Woody Ravine. To reach Woody Ravine we followed the 12 Apostles track past the top of Kasteelspoort and on to Woody which is marked dangerous. Ignoring this sign we went down, encountering a great many blister bushes close the path in the upper reaches. Woody Ravine is a short (1 hour) sharp descent which has the advantage of being relatively sheltered from the wind (north west on our descent) while Kasteelspoort can be a bit more exposed. 20 minutes walk from the bottom took us to Theresa Avenue and waiting parents.
Check out the Orange Kloof gallery here to see what it was like.