Eastern Cape, Oyster Bay

Antjie se Voetpad is a 3-day / 2-night hike. It is a moderately difficult hike, with the day layout as follows: Day 1 = 12.5km, Day 2 = 12km, Day 3 = 10km. The route is suited for people with moderate hiking fitness.  The trail is laid out in a figure 8.

A maximum of 8 hikers is permitted on the trail at a time. The minimum number is 4.  There is also a slackpacking option.

The Trail:

Day 1 – 12.5 km

You will arrive at the Conference Centre. This will be the point where you leave your vehicle (very safe) and the departure point. You can fill your water bottles here. If you take the slackpacking option – this will be where we pick up your bags etc. You will then walk through Wildskamp.  At this point you might spot some deer and antelope. When you leave the Wildskamp area, you will follow Antjie se pad to the top of Blouberg.  Here you will have panoramic views of Saartjie Baartman area and even Hanekam (one of the highest peaks in our area).  When you descend to Slagkamer, you will find the hut.

Day 2 – 12 km

You will hike over Aalwynrug.  Here you will see aloe and “Broodbome”.  You will then descend into Graslaagte.  You will be able to see the Koi San cliff.  In this area you will find the Baviaans Seder Tree, which can only be found within the Baviaans.  On day 2 you will have the opportunity to explore the Busman Cliff.

If the stream is flowing, you will be able to bathe in the pools it forms. You will start ascending till the top of Agterberg.

Day 3 – 10 km

You will hike behind Paardenberg where you can be on the lookout for “Klipspringers”.  You can descend to the Baviaans River for a swim in a dam.  Walk through Wildskamp again and end your hike at the Conference Centre.

Estimated climb you will be taking?

There are a few climbs on the hike. Day 1 you will climb from 464m to the height of 810m. A descend to 579m follows to end off the day. On day 2 you will ascend to 910m, descending again to 579m at the end of the day. On day 3 you will only ascend to 788m and then finally descending to 484m. In between these heights you will experience other ups and downs – but not as severe. We aimed at letting the road follow the ridges of the mountain.

Accommodation:
Slagkamer:

You will be sleeping at the same hut for both nights. At the hut is the following:

  • Sleeps 8
  • Kettle
  • Braai grid.
  • Wood
  • Beds with mattresses
  • The rest you need to supply for yourself.
  • Rustic shower located next to a stream.
  • Outdoor flushing toilet
  • NO ELECTRICITY.
  • There is water available at the hut. If you have a sensitive stomach, you are advised to boil the water first and or throw in water tablets. There is a rainwater tank – only full if there was a good rainy season.
  • Please do not use candles as they are a fire risk.

There is accommodation for use the night before the hike starts? And ends?

Base Camp Accommodation (Toe-Val-Lig):

For those travelling from afar, or those not wanting to be rushed on day 1 or 3, we have a house to rent at Base Camp.

  • Sleeps 8
  • Old School building
  • 12 Volt battery
  • Hot shower
How long is the dirt road to the Conference Centre? Will my car get there?

There is a 25km dirt road from the turn off at Onverwagslaagte.  This road leads to Witteklip Conference Centre.  You can attempt to take the dirt road with a car – but it is preferred that you either use a SUV or a Bakkie / “truck”.

Water & Waterpoints:

There are water tanks at the overnight site that provides water for drinking, cooking, washing dishes and cold water showers. This water is suitable to drink. Depending on the season and local rainfall, you may find streams and springs along the length of Antjie se Voetpad that are suitable for drinking purposes as well. However, it may be wise to use purification tablets/filters especially if you are not used to this water. Unless it has been very dry, there are dams/pools along the way for swimming.

Next to the road you will encounter small drinking dams, which the animals make use of. You are welcome to swim in these and even drink from them if you choose to. But please remember – these are not constantly there – so prepare your water provisions accordingly.

Fires:

Fires are only allowed in the designated fire place provided. Firewood is provided. Please do not collect wood from the natural environment. Dead bushes and branches provide important habitat for a wide variety of insects and animals. They are a vital part of the fire load in the veld for natural burning cycles.  This is a high-risk fire area.  Please ensure that your fires and coals are completely doused any time you leave the fire area – at night and in the morning.

Important Safety Considerations:

There is cell phone reception on the trail on top of the mountain but not in the valleys, and very little vehicle access, so it is difficult to let us know of emergencies in a hurry.  This is a risk you accept when walking Antjie se Voetpad.  Antjie se Voetpad goes through natural wilderness with all the risks associated with wild animals, snakes, insects, unpredictable weather and a strenuous hike. Carry the following safety items with you: first aid kit, survival bag, thermal blanket.

In the event of an emergency, ensure that someone remains with the person/people affected while at least two people return to Base Camp or the nearest emergency point.

In the event of mountain fires or floods, stay together and use your best judgement as to the safest course of action. We will be doing our best to come to your aid. Seek natural shelter and avoid high areas during dangerous weather such as thunderstorms.

The area has a variety of venomous snakes, including puff adders and Cape cobra. Refresh your knowledge of how to handle snake/spider bites and scorpion stings. Leopard spoor can be seen on the trail, and very occasionally you may catch a glimpse of one of these shy creatures. Baboons in the area still have their natural caution and fear of humans. They will move away when they see hikers. They do not come to the campsites looking for human food. Your support and cooperation in this regard is very important. Please do not feed the baboons. Do not leave food out or throw scraps into the bushes. When you leave the campsites each morning, ensure that all your rubbish go with you

When to Hike and the Weather:

Antjie se Voetpad is a great hike at any time of the year.  Summer is hot with the daily average in December, January and February at 26 degrees Celsius. Days can get up to the high 30s, so be prepared to walk in the early mornings and late afternoons. Autumn and Spring (March, April, May, September, October and November) can provide great fair-weather hiking, with average temperatures in the early 20s. As winter approaches, an occasional cold front will blow through, dropping temperatures considerably.

Winter days in June, July and August are often perfect for a long days hiking if you don’t like the heat, with temperatures averaging around 16 degrees Celsius. Nights drop to zero though, so make sure you have a warm sleeping bag, hot water bottle. Rain in the Kouga

Mountains is an unpredictable affair. All months of the year have only around 4 days of rain so, statistically, your chances of dry weather are pretty good.

Like all mountain areas, the Kouga Mountains can experience a range of weather conditions over any 3-day period. You are advised to prepare for rain, wind, cold and heat.

Age and Fitness:

Antjie se Voetpad is a relatively difficult hike, with the longest day being 12.5km. The hike is for people of good/moderate hiking fitness. Unfit hikers should not attempt the trail.

The recommended age range of 12 to 65 years is used as indicative, due to the physical demands of the trail. We will not stop hikers outside of this age range – but encourage you to be realistic about your own ability and limits. All hikers below 12 years of age should be accompanied by their parents/guardians who will be legal signatories to Indemnity Forms (to be submitted with copies of their identity document or passport before undertaking the trail). There are relatively steep ascents and descents, so please be cautious if you have previously injured your ankles and/or knees.

Packing List:
Essential Gear:
  • Water Bottle, purification tablets/ filters
  • Headlamp or Flashlight
  • Food
  • Matches or firelighters
  • First aid kit
  • Knife
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect Repellent
Footwear:
  • Hiking Boots
Clothing:
  • Rain jacket
  • Warm clothing – if winter
  • Hat
Accessories:
  • 15m rope
  • Plastic Garbage Bags
  • Toilet Paper
  • Repair sewing kit
Gadgets & Extras:
  • Cell phone
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Fire Kettle
  • Own cooking utensils
Information about the Flora on the trail:

Antjie se Voetpad is on the farm Witteklip. The nearest towns to the hiking trail are Humansdorp (55km) and Kareedouw (45km).  The trail is aptly named Antjie se Voetpad because Antjie lived at the back of Blouberg and had to track the 10km over the mountain every day to work at the farm house and in the evening returned to her own house.  You will sleep day 2 where Antjie stayed and on day 3 walk the trail to Witteklip where she worked.  The trail follows burn paths on the farm Witteklip and you will find at times in the most remote parts sheep grazing in the Fynbos.  You will also walk past Honey bush tee plants on the Southern slopes of the mountain.

The Baviaanskloof Cedar is classified as near threatened in the recent Red Data List assessments done in 2006 for the IUCN.  It occurs in the Baviaanskloof and Kouga Mountains in the Eastern Cape.  It is endemic to this area and can be found in rocky ravines and growing on steep cliff faces in kloofs.  You can experience this unique tree at the Boesman cave on day 2 of the hike.

Distribution:

This species is endemic to South Africa, found at the meeting point of the Western and Eastern Cape, confined to the Baviaanskloof and Kouga Mountains.  Ideal habitat is around 70-1220 m elevation in rocky ravines in the low rainfall areas.

Conservation issues:

The species is under threat due to various impacting factors. All accessible specimens have been burnt or cut out and destroyed, so that trees of any substantial size are now confined to remote rocky ravines and can be seen only with great effort (Palgrave 2002). Personal communication with local farmers reports past use of the wood for the construction of fences and for building timber. It is presently under threat from runaway fires. Off-road tracks have been identified as a possible future threat to this species unless strictly controlled, as 4 x 4 vehicles disturb habitats and destroy the fragile saplings. Conservation efforts focus on the propagation of the species in few nurseries and planting efforts put in place by FOBWA. Author: Mervyn Brouard (2012).

Rates:
  • R720.00 per person – Rough and tough (carrying own baggage etc.)
  • R1200.00 per person- Slackpacking (baggage transported to hut)
  • R960.00 per night – Basecamp (Toe-Val-Lig).
  • R55.00 once off admin fee per reservation.

You need to be able to get your own vehicle to the Witteklip Conference Centre, from where you will be hiking from.

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