The two-day Genadendal Hiking Trail starts and ends in the tiny Overberg village of Genadendal. In the last week of June, I managed to persuade 5 other intrepid hikers to brave the wet Cape Winter to tackle this beautiful mountain adventure.
Booking: You need to book the trail through CapeNature on 0861 22736. The cost is R30.00 per person per day, or free with your WildCard. If you choose to you can book accommodation at the Moravian Mission Station in Genadendal itself, allowing you to get an early start. The overnight hut is on a private farm called De Hoek. This you book by calling Holt and Sandy Okes on 023 626 2176. The rate is R65.00 per person per night.
Getting there: N2 taking the Greyton / Genadendal turnoff onto the R406 before reaching Caledon. Drive into the center of the village, turning right at the huge church. Park in front of the church near the slave bell.
The hiking trail makes a big loop through the Riviersonderend Conservation Area, and you will be treated to rugged mountain folds, deep gorges with rushing mountain streams, and a fine display of fynbos.
With your back to the church, pass the slave bell and the other mission buildings heading north toward the mountain. You will see a deep kloof in the mountains, the Baviaanskloof, from which the river on your right flows. You will pass through a gate at the rear of the property, and just after you pass the trail head sign, go up the little path to the immediate left and head up the slope. Do not head up the jeep-track along the river bank as this heads straight into Baviaanskloof and is not your route!
The path up the hill climbs steadily and comfortably, and I had a chance to get the feel of having a full(ish) pack on my back — this was my first proper outing with my deuter Aircontact backpack.
We stopped at Wonderklippe, a collection of interesting rocks standing amongst the fynbos 3.4km and an hour and a half into the hike, for breakfast. You will have noticed many burnt tree stumps up to this stage amongst the fynbos, which are all that remains of pine trees destroyed in a fire. You will now start to see pine trees that must have survived the fire.
The first pool that you can swim in is Klein Koffiegat which is at the bottom of a small waterfall. We didn’t stop here as it was still a bit cold and wet, and too soon after our breakfast stop, but I am sure on a hot summer day it would be a godsend!
We stopped for lunch at the second, larger pool, Groot Koffiegat [S 33°59.716′, E 19°31.449′], which is visible to the right of the trail and accessible via a small 10m detour. This is at the 7.9km mark for the day: you are just more than half way for the day, with the second half even easier than the first. It is well worth aiming to arrive early enough to allow time for a leisurely lunch and a swim in this beautiful pool.
Heading back up to the main trail, and continue on your way, crossing the river a short while later. The bridge was destroyed in the fire, so we had to steep over the stream to the right of the path where there is a rock protruding from the opposite bank. From here the path climbs gently out of the valley up a set of lazy switch-backs.
As you reach the top of the hill, the De Hoek Farm valley stretches out before you, with waterfalls tumbling down the steep left side. In the near distance you will see 3 dams with some farm buildings behind them. You still have a bit of a descent to the floor of the valley, and I must say that I was pleased to reach the level track at the bottom; at this stage we all agreed that the downhills were harder on the legs than the ups! We were treated to a beautiful display of Suikerbossies, which were quite a bit pinker than the ones I am used to seeing on the Peninsula.
The overnight huts consist of four buildings: to dorm huts with 2 rooms each, a kitchen hut with 2 showers, and a block of 3 flushing toilets. The rooms have an assortment of beds and double-bunks. The kitchen and showers are supplied with hot water from a gas heater, and the kitchen has two two-ring gas cookers. Watch your heads on the low, metal doorways: I am still sporting a bump on my head.
When we arrived Farmer Okes was there checking up on things as the large amount of rain had led to some minor flooding in the toilets. It was great to chat to this gentleman farmer, and he gave us some information about the area, and explained in detail how to pick up the trail for the following morning.
11 km (4hrs)
Leave the hut, crossing the stream and going around the koppie. The trail brings you to a jeep track which you will follow for 1.6km to a junction [S 33°59.061′, E 19°34.757′] — take a right up the hill. At the 2.5km mark take a left [S 33°59.479′, E 19°34.707′] onto the path.
When you reach the top of the ridge [S 34°00.170′, E 19°34.734′], head across the saddle through the pine thicket to the 5.5km mark where you will be at the highest point of the two days at 1053m [S 33°00.358′, E 19°34.699′] before the trail drops steeply down into a ravine. This was a bit of a knee-jerker, and there was plenty of water streaming down the path which made it a bit slippery underfoot.
At the 8.3km mark the trail drops down onto a jeep track [S 34°01.506′, E 19°34.051′] where you take a right. You now wind your way back to your car. We could not see an obvious route across the river to the trailhead, so we followed the road down to the bridge and walked along the tarred road. The Sunday evening church service was underway which added to the atmosphere of this quaint little village.