22-24th April 2005
After a last moment cancellation of the Fanie Botha Trail, I was advised to try this wonderful trail. Nestled high up on the escarpment above Nelspruit, 9 of us gathered late on the Friday night in a hut just outside the little Town of Kaapschehoop.
The trail is actually a 4/5-day trail, which is also suitable for various 2-day trails. I chose the lower section, the Blue Swallow trail. This allowed us to hike along the escarpment and enjoy the superb panoramic views. Giulia Criscuolo took the lead for this hike whilst I, as usual, lead from behind. We came across the much talked about wild horses. It seems that humans are generally kind to them, as they did not mind us walking close to them – a reminder of those horses in the Fish River Canyon.
The path is very well marked, except when you get to a firebreak. Sometimes it is good to just plod on further, to beyond a “disturbed” point, and generally you will find another marking – as we did in this case. The path then took us past more firebreaks and through pine plantations. Just before the Coetzestroom hut, the path suddenly dropped into an indigenous forested gully – beautiful! There were rocks to climb and a cave to see and explore. Apparently the Blue Swallows are in abundance in this area. Unfortunately, due to their migratory habits, they had left the area one or two months prior.
The hut overlooked another gully, giving a magnificent position. Here the facilities were also good – as in usual style from SAFCOL.
The next morning, Giulia set us off at 7.30am. A much shorter day was ahead of us, also of picturesque value. The path ends in the town; some of us paid a backpackers place to have a shower. Others took the opportunity to explore this delightful and special place that once buzzed as an old gold mining town. After gathering our belongings and cars, we met in a restaurant for tea, before setting off on our journey home.
Thank you to Giulia for leading us so well! Also thank you to Robbie, Wendy, Padmini, Estie, Ina, Julie and Ashley for being such great team hikers.