HIKING – Oorlogskloof (Day 1)

October 2021

4km (2.4 miles)

  • Estimated time to complete according to brochure: 2-3 hours
  • Our time: 4.5 hours

If a hike is only 4 km, we thought there were no hurry in starting early. We therefore took our time and enjoyed a warm breakfast of Pronutro and a few cups of coffee and tea. After re-packing our bags and filling our water bottles, we walked over to the start of the trail at around 10:00.

At first, the trail takes you through the poplar plantation until you reach some ruins from earlier days. The whole route is marked with stones stacked on top of each other or just laid down in a line to indicate where you should walk.

Here you can see the stones next to the route indicating the way
Walking through part of the poplar plantation
What a lovely path (we thought at first) …
A ruin within the first kilometer

Although this area is well-known for their beautiful spring flowers, we knew that most of these flowers would have been gone by now since we’re already in October. We were however still surprised to see some pretty little flowers during the next five days on our route.

And just when we were completely relaxed, we reached the first of many ladders that would have to help us climb down (and up) several large rocks. For Berto this was not much of a problem, but for me (with my shorter legs and heavy backpack) it was quite a challenge. Sometimes I had to took my backpack off and handed it over to Berto in order for me to negotiate the ladders.

A ladder to help us down some big rocks

We then reached a turnoff where hikers on the multi-day hikes needed to go left.

Take the turnoff here that follows the two multi-day hikes

Once we took the turnoff, the trail heads over to the edge of the Saaikloof – seeing some interesting cracks and cliffs in the kloof (gorge).

But before we got to the edge, we had to work our way over some big rocks
On the edge of Saaikloof (no, we will not take that road … that’s too easy) πŸ˜‰
Walking on the edge (with rocks packed out on our right to indicate where we should go)

Now, it’s here where our brochure just mentioned that you have to carry on for 3.6km until you reach your overnight camp … nothing about more rock climbing or ladders …

Crossing a bridge over a stream

And that’s when our beautiful pathway disappeared and we came face to face with some rock climbing. Every now and then a path would appear, just for us to see some big rocks around the next corner we need to get ourselves over.

We need to get down this rock … say WHAT??
Oh, hang on … we need to get OVER these rocks … no way!
And work our way through some narrow spaces
Berto took my backpack at some of the bigger rocks to enable me to get safely down or up

At some point, we got to a huge overhanging rock that gave wonderful shade. We took off our backpacks and rest here for a while.

Some shade and a great spot to rest

And then it was back to climbing more rocks …

Up here …
Berto waiting for me to get down (another) ladder

Finally, we got to the top of the mountain from where we could spot our overnight camp, Brakwater.

On the left you’ll be able to spot the green roof of our overnight camp

But of course, we still had to walk down that mountain with a steep slope to get to our hut … not so easy with my legs now feeling like jelly after climbing all of those rocks!

Honestly, I was delighted to get to our overnight hut! I looked at Berto and said:

β€œSo, when they say the first 4km is just a walk in the park … what do you think lies ahead of us?”

Brakwater, our overnight hut

All the huts are pretty much the same. There are 15 beds (bunk beds), a table and two long benches … and (maybe) a basin and shower. The shower only functioned in our first hut … we will tell you more about our showers in the next posts … πŸ˜‰. There is also a compost toilet situated a 100m or so from the hut.

What about water?

Sometimes there would be containers filled with water in the huts, but other times, we had to collect water from nearby fountains or the river. Since we had water available at this hut, we decided to wash our clothes … we only have two sets of hiking clothes and we are not sure when the opportunity will come again to do our washing.

Our washed clothes hanging in the sun to dry

This was quite a day! In hindsight, it was probably not that strenuous (Berto will tell you – I tend to disagree), but we did not expect the terrain to be that rugged right at the beginning … especially since the brochure will inform you that they are not counting the first 4km as part of the trail – the trail actually only starts tomorrow πŸ˜³.

It was only the two of us in the hut (as was the case with each of the following days). So, after we’ve enjoyed a shower, done the washing, making our beds and packing out some stuff on the table … there was only one thing left to do …

No, it’s not a blood transfusion …

We brought some luxury with us … we thought a drink in the afternoon after a day out in nature, would be the perfect way of ending each day. Berto had the clever idea of filling a water bladder with red wine (we carry our water in two 1l bottles each). And I had a small 1l box of red wine in my backpack … I will tell you more about this in the next post … πŸ‘€πŸ‘€.

Tired feet (and that after just 4km) … but hey, life is good … we have red wine out of a bladder to enjoy!

Oh, and let’s not forget about our freeze-dried food! We have never tasted these before our trip – so, it was probably a bit of a risk to rely only on this for dinner on our hike. But oh boy, it was GREAT! Once we’ve added the hot water to the contents and let it stand for a couple of minutes, it tasted like a home cooked meal!

Tonight, it’s Creamy Parmesan Chicken
An amazing meal!

We will conclude each day with a map of our route, as well as an elevation map. It’s difficult to explain to you about how steep an uphill is (or downhill) and there’s no indication of how many rocks or ladders we’ve climbed … but I’m sure you’ll get some idea.

Day 1 – Route map
Day 1 – Elevation map

So, what will tomorrow bring?

You will have to wait for the next post … but first we had a rough night … and we will also tell you about that in our next post. See you then!

You can read about our rough night here

48 thoughts on “HIKING – Oorlogskloof (Day 1)

  1. That rock scramble looks pretty intense. It’s hard to believe that it was only a 4km hike! What a treat to stay in a roofed accommodation rather than in a tent. That must have been nice to have it all to yourselves too. I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only one to lug wine in my backpack! Priorities, right? Looking forward to hearing about day 2. Or is it day 1 since this doesn’t officially count towards part of the trail? Oh gosh.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I’m so glad to hear you also have that wine luxury in your backpack – absolutely priorities 😁! For me, this was certainly day 1 – that 4km was exhausting and well worth counting as part of the trail! And yes, after a hectic day on the trail, all you need is a bed and a roof over your head (I doubt I would have the energy to pitch a tent)!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s true Maggie, the rock formations are absolutely breathtaking beautiful … but after climbing these continuously up and down for a couple of hours with a heavy backpack (and later for a couple of days), the fun sort of disappear πŸ˜‰. And you’re right, the hike was certainly interesting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I am seriously impressed! Doing all that without a backpack would be challenge enough. It’s funny the things that help, when you find yourself stripped to basics. In Sudan we had a bottle of brandy that we rationed. At the end of three weeks we used to pass the bottle around just to smell the the aroma which was all that was left. Then we gave the bottle to a small boy who was thrilled. But I would have been filled with dread at the end of that day! Oh, and that overhanging rock…no way I could sit under it. I would be certain that it would fall on me! Great to be taking this trip vicariously!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I’ve enjoyed your story about that brandy bottle now πŸ˜…. Yes, small things sometimes helps you to forget how difficult a day was … until the next day, that is! I was so happy to find some shade under that overhanging rock that I did not really think of how long it’s been in that position (afterwards, looking at the photo, I did had some goosebumps)!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not sure I have used the word “fun” a lot on this trail ☺️. But you’re right about that hut we had all to ourselves – the highlight of each day! See you again soon on day 2 somewhere in the mountains!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. It was quite an adventurous hike, that’s for sure! Someone asked me after the hike if I’ll do it again and I said it’s sometimes good not to know what’s waiting for you, otherwise I would certainly not even think about doing this trail! I will see you then again on day 2, take care 🌸.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The rocks and ladders look very challenging and downright dangerous to me. You did well to avoid any injuries. I now know why it was important to have a good first aid kit. I hope to see more great views but easier terrain in the upcoming posts.

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    1. John, you’re spot on with the dangerous ladders! I sometimes had a look at those ladders and thought we were absolutely crazy to trust them! And I’m afraid to say … nope, no easier terrain on the next couple of days … in fact … 😬.


  4. Phew, you made it! There were definitely some hairy moments during that hike, but you got through it. I like the idea of following the little piles of rocks. Despite the anxiety, the views looked to be incredible. And to not have anyone else around sounds like heaven to Sladja and I. REALLY want to try those freeze-dried meals.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. At first, when I read about the rock piles being waymarkers, I thought it would be difficult to recognise them (between all the other rocks), but it was actually quite easy to follow! Yes, I must admit, we had some really terrific views on this trail (despite the hairy moments) and walking all on our own and seeing not a soul, was great. I was pleasantly surprised with our freeze-dried food – we had a different meal every evening and could not wait to taste the next one! Thanks for reading Leighton, see you again during day 2.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh, all those rocks and ladders to negotiate on your first day with such heavy backpacks. I’m not surprised that your legs had turned to jelly by the time you reached the hut. It must have been worthwhile carrying the wine though, a definite pick me up after such a strenuous day and a chance to put your feet up and relax.

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    1. That’s true Marion, a day could be extremely difficult out on the trail, but once we reached that hut and had our first sip of red wine while appreciating our surroundings, all tiredness and pain disappeared (until the next morning) πŸ˜‰. Thank you for walking (and climbing) with us, we’ll see you again somewhere on the trail.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sjoe dit was omtrent ‘n moeilike dag1 van julle staptog! Daardie lere lyk ook moeilike want die sporte is so ver van mekaar! Ek sou dit nooit met my kort bene gemaak het nie πŸ˜€ Daar gaan my eerste hoed! 🀠 Dit is ‘n pragtige omgewing en die rotse is indrukwekkend. Ek sou beslis ook die wyn saamgedra het Corna! Sien uit na die volgende episode!

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    1. Sien Aletta, dis ons met ons kort bene wat altyd sukkel 😁! Dit is regtig ‘n pragtige omgewing (en kan net gesien word as jy daar gaan stap). Daar het ‘n verskriklike ding met my wyn boksie gebeur (maar vertel meer daaroor in ons volgende post) … jy kan maar nog hoede gaan uithaal πŸ˜….

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha … “fun” was not a word that I often used on this trip! But thank you, I also think we were quite bad ass πŸ˜…. The company from whom we ordered our freeze-dried food, also have vegetarian options … I would have loved to carry some broccoli/carrots/tomatoes with me for REAL food (but in the end, the wine won πŸ˜„). Thanks for reading, we’ll see you somewhere on the trail again πŸ’Œ.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of fresh air on your face and rugged terrain underfoot – this part of the trail looks and sounds like a proper adventure! And that’s why I always found myself drawn to hiking and hillwalking, because when you embark on a hiking challenge, what happens on the trail, doesn’t stay there. It gives you the confidence to attempt challenges in other areas of your life and it fulfils you with gratitude and opportunities to challenge yourself. Thanks for sharing, and have a nice day! Aiva xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aiva, we love to be out in nature – like you said, the fresh air definitely is nature’s best medicine 😊. And an adventure it surely was … and yes, I’ve challenged myself to the limit on this trail! Thanks again for reading, have a great week. Corna 🌸.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yes, I’m sure this is your kind of trail! Was VERY testing, but you’re 100% right … looking back every evening after ending a day, did leave me with a sense of achievement (actually, I think I was quite surprised at what I did πŸ˜‰).

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    1. Dankie Toortsie! As jy dink die 1ste dag was rof, moet jy uitkyk vir ons dag 2 post binnekort (wel, ek het dit vinnig onderbreek met ‘n onstuimige nag post …).
      Gewoonlik stap Berto met sy bootse, maar ons dog mos toe dat 4km nie so erg kan wees nie πŸ‘€ (hy’t wel die volgende 4 dae sy bootse aangehad). Maar ek het die hele staptog met my Bedrock sandale gestap … jy sal die bewyse nog in die volgende plasings sien!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. To be honest Hannah, I’ve got no idea as well how I did it with my HEAVY backpack πŸ˜…. But I think I learned from our previous Camino experiences … one foot in front of the other, that’s all I was thinking about! Thanks for popping in – much appreciated!


  8. Oh my goodness me😳😳😳… That is very challenging, those ladders, oi, you have my admiration! Now my mother loved that kind of thing. She climbed with ropes and chains. I really enjoyed reading this

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember you said your mother was into this mountain “climbing thing” … well, I can tell you this: After our hike in Oorlogskloof, I got so much admiration for your mother! This was certainly (by far) not the easiest hike I ever done! Wait till you see day 3 (still need to post that one) …

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Mel, he only walked in sandals because he thought the 4km would be a nice stroll (which it obviously wasn’t) πŸ˜…. For the next 4 days he wore his boots … but you will notice I’ve done the whole trail in my trusty Bedrock sandals! They do warn about the presence of snakes (and we did see one small snake on our first day), but fortunately nothing on the rest of the route!

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