Hiking and Kloofing in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve
Named by early Dutch colonists as the ‘Holland’ of the indigenous Hottentots living there, the majestic Hottentots Holland Mountains separate the Overberg region of South Africa from the coastline. Early pioneers had to make their arduous journey over these mountains in their ox-drawn wagons, evidence of which can be seen in the deep wagon tracks etched on the rock, but today visitors to the spectacular Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve can choose how challenging their exploration of the area will be.
For the truly adventurous, fit and healthy explorer, there are two kloofing options – Suicide Gorge and the Riviersonderend Route. Kloofing is becoming an increasingly popular activity where participants traverse a route which includes leaping from rocks into icy-cold mountain pools below. The highest jump on the Suicide Gorge kloofing route is 14 meters, with a series of other jumps and slides guaranteeing kloofers an exhilarating experience. Suicide Gorge is reached by hiking a distance of 5 km from Nuweberg (the entrance of the reserve between Villiersdorp and Grabouw on Viljoen’s Pass), and the trail covers a distance of 17 km. Riviersonderend starts around 3 kms from Nuweberg and covers a distance of 24 km. It is an easier trail than Suicide Gorge and perhaps the better choice for beginners. Kloofing routes are only open between October and April due to winter flooding, and permits are required.
Hikers can choose from a number of marked trails within the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve. The 6 km circular Palmiet Trail is ideally suited as a family hike that all should be able to manage with ease. The Boegoekloof Trail covers a distance of 24 km over rugged terrain and is best tackled by those who are fit and experienced.
The Boland Hiking Trail offers different options, ranging from the Nuweberg to Landdroskop Hut which covers 12 km and takes around 3 to 4 hours to complete, to the longest route of 29 km which continues from the Landdroskop Hut to Boesmanskloof Hut. There are overnight huts at both Landroskop and Boesmanskloof. As the weather in the Hottentots Holland Mountains is very changeable, hikers are reminded to be prepared for extreme weather.
Mountain biking enthusiasts have a choice of the easy 6 km Hottentots Holland MTB Trail through tree plantations, or the challenging Groenlandberg MTB Trail which includes scenic views of the ocean. Visitors to the reserve can enjoy seeing around 1300 species of fynbos and up to 130 species of birds, as well as small populations of klipspringer, rhebuck, duiker and grysbok.