Elandspad 2012

We hiked up Elandspad in 2012. The full set of photos are in the photo album on this site under the 2012 Album. Permits must be obtained from Cape Nature and parties are limited to 12. The Piscatorial Society also has the right to grant permits to trout fisherman in this area and it is likely that you will see some of them on the lower reaches of the river. Elandspad lies just on the other side of the Hugenot Tunnel and because of the steep sides of the kloof it is better to start this hike early in the morning so that you can finish while there is still sunshine. This is especially true if you are planning to kloof down the river itself as the last swims are likely to be in shade at the end of the day. This hike is suitable for most reasonably fit people but the full day can be quite demanding so if you are not reasonably fit or have younger children with you, consider either splitting the party into two or taking some the easier options. The youngest scouts with us were 11 and they were very tired at the end of the day. We arrived at the start point at about 7am on a hot summers day (about 28C). The parking place has been moved from where it was a few years ago so that you now have to drive someway past the exit to the Tunnel on the Worcester side and turn off on the left side down to a parking place. There is signage so it is best to go slowly and not be hassled by traffic behind you. To get to the start of Elandspad you go through the stile and follow the signs, passing under the bridge and entering the kloof quite high up on the side. The well defined and marked path leads up the side for about 1.5 hours. You get some great views of the kloof with the river meandering on below you. Eventually the path will lead you down to Fishermans cave. Camping here is banned and fires are definitely banned. The other side of the kloof was still recovering from recent fires and more fires in the next 10 or 15 years will probably result in local extinction of some plant species. At this point you have two options. As both of them will result in you getting wet, this is the time to waterproof your packs and be ready to get wet. The first option is to keep moving up the river which can be partly done by sticking to a precipitous and quite overgrown path on the side of the river or you can drop straight into the river. Either way, after a bit you will cross from the nature reserve onto private land. You should not actually enter the private land although we did not go far enough up on the day we were there to encounter the limit of the reserve. The kloofing upriver is very easy going. After about 45 minutes we turned around and went down to go for option 2. Option 2 requires a high level of fitness and tenacity but does have the benefit of a spectacular waterfall at the end. If you have children younger than 14 with you, they will definitely require help to get over some of the obstacles. Further, the kloof is so narrow that it often get no sun in the day at all. This makes it very cold, even on the hottest day, so it is suggest that you either limit your stay at the waterfall (remembering that you will be somewhat wet) or have warm tops you can put on. A little above Fishermans Cave and on the other side of the river is a tributary which cascades down from higher rocks into the main river. To get to the waterfall you will need to follow this river up. Initially we found it best to hug the side of the kloof and and follow a rough path up. Once the sides became too steep however we were forced into the kloof itself and it took about 1.5 hours to negotiate our way to the waterfall. Care must be taken for many of the rocks are very slippery and it is very easy to slip. Further, in some places, you must climb up waterfalls and a fall here can result in severe injury so mutual assistance is very important. The waterfall is one of the great sights of the Western Cape and hardly known at all so take some time to appreciate the sight. You can swim in the pool and there is a geocache in the area, on the right of the waterfall. We stayed over at the waterfall for a quick lunch but by the time we left we were all very cold and happy to head downstream. The route back is actually easier than the route in and takes a bit less time. We hit the main river at about 2:30pm and started downstream to kloof our way right down to the bridge. An alternative is to exit the river at this point and take the path back. The kloofing down stream is not particularly spectacular and there are lot of slippery rocks so it can be quite funny to watch people falling over in the water for no apparent reason. This type of kloofing is best with tackies (with good grip) and socks to stop the river sand causing friction between your foot and the shoes. Sandals are not a good idea as you toes are likely to get bashed at some point. The closer you get to the exit point, the more mandatory swims there are. Chances are you will have got to this point as the sun leaves the water, making the swimming very cold. Waterproofing your pack at this point is also very important as very poor waterproofing will mean you packs will be very heavy. Less fit members may really be struggling at this point and it is essential that the group sticks together and offers encouragement and support. You finally exit the river just on the other side of the bridge (we got there at about 4.30pm) and scramble up a steep slope to the level ground. It is also possible to continue down the river for a short time and exit further down. Either way you head back to your cars, dry clothes (heaven) and something to drink. It is an hours drive back to Cape Town.

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