Hikers stay over the first night at either the Langesnek or the Waterkloof base camps and park their vehicles at the lodge, when starting the trail
The trail sets off over the bridge past the poplar grove, along the lane of bluegum trees with evidence of the homes of porcupines and spring hares. It goes through the Serengeti Game Camp, climbing towards the mountain, towards a big rock from where hikers can enjoy a lovely view across the Moolmanshoek valley and the Serengeti plain where big herds of zebra, black wildebeest and blesbuck graze.
The trail then hugs the contours of the mountain, arriving at a deep gorge where there is a wonderful natural swimming hole, more 4,5 m deep, shaped like a spiral or an upside-down ice-cream cone. This is the perfect spot to stop for tea. Thereafter the trail winds around the ridge to arrive at the Witgatbad, another swimming hole. It then follows the contours behind the two Sphinx mountains.
At this stage, hikers who wish to climb to the summit of Visierskerf mountain (2 440 m) leave their backpacks behind to be rewarded with a magnificent view across the Free State and the Malutis. The rest of the hike follows the contours of Jacobsberg and crosses several gorges, passes the kiepersol garden, and goes through thick indigenous forest to arrive at the Sphinx overnight mountain hut. Since the hut is close to a natural swimming pool, the remainder of the day will probably be spent swimming and bird-watching, or one can walk to the nearby dam to watch the many water birds.
The second day’s hike takes you along the contours beneath the two Pyramid mountains. You will also go past a big cave that was previously used as a kraal for 1 000 goats. A local story has it that this cave was used as an arsenal during the Anglo Boer War and by the resistance Ossewa Brandwag movement during WW2.
The trail then gradually descends to reach a grove of willow trees and a big swimming pool for a welcome but final swim.
For keen bird-watchers, there is a reed hide at the nearby waterhole. A short walk takes one back to base camp. Game that may be seen includes springbok, mountain reedbuck, fallow deer, duiker and steenbuck. There are many bird species along the trail and black eagles nest up against Visierskerf. The trees have been identified and there is a rich variety of wild flowers and ferns.
The Sphinx trail incorporates part of the 3-day Waterkloof trail.
Maximum number of hikers: 22.
2 days/nights. Day 1: 10,3 km, Day 2: 5 km.
Base camp at Waterkloof farmhouse:
The Old Farmhouse (Langesnek base Camp):
Sphinx mountain hut:
Farm stall sells seasonal farm produce at Moolmanshoek office, e.g. rusks, milk and jams.
45 km from Ficksburg, 230 km from Bloemfontein, 340 km from Gauteng.
Acknowledgement and bookings: Jacana