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Not the Sacred Ibis but ...
The Bald Ibis hiking trail - Swinburne/Harrismith

This trail is near Swinburne, Harrismith and Van Reenen Pass.  It is located on one of the most beautiful and renowned landmarks in the Free State namely Rensburgkop. This mountain butts out of the north eastern Free State landscape with massive sandstone kranzes moulded on the sides.  Rensburgkop is not only known for its unique location but was also the site where the television drama, ‘The Mountain’ was filmed based on a true story.

 

Less than 2km from the base camp is a vulture restaurant with its natural hide.  Raptors that breed on the mountain include Cape vultures, crown and black eagles while bald ibis and abdim storks are plentiful.  There is abundant endemic game.  The flora is very similar to the Drakensberg ecological zones.  Of the most majestic yellowwood trees, that have been seen on Free State hiking rails, are found here.

 

On the trail one passes a massive San cave where some paintings have survived.  For the more energetic hiker, the climb towards the Beacon on Rensburgkop is a view not to be missed.  The sheer rock faces of this mountain will appeal to most mountaineers and abseilers, while more adventurous hikers will be able to enjoy some rock climbing in William’s gorge. 

 

The base camp is a restored sandstone barn with all the facilities a hiker could wish for.  The overnight stop is at Twin caves near a waterfall.  Hiking beds and a braai area are provided to make this overnight unforgettable.

 

The Bald Ibis hiking trail offers a two-day backpacking trail and two day trail option from the base camp.  Fit hikers would be able to hike the trail in one day, however, hikers and nature lovers would take time to enjoy the beauty of this exceptional trail of the Free State.  The Bald Ibis trails will appeal to all hikers – from the hiker who prefers a base camp and shorter trails to the hiker who prefers to backpack and sleep out, especially in a cave.  The Bald Ibis trail is ideal for informal conferences and to build team spirit.  Catering on request.  Curioshops with farm produce.  Farm pub. 

 

Bald Ibis trail: maximum 30 hikers, overnight trail 24.

Distance/duration: 1st day – 17.7km.  2nd day – 9km.  Day trails: 3 and 5 hours respectively.

Degree of difficulty: average to difficult

Overnight facilities:  Base camp: restored barn with 30 beds/mattresses.  Equippped kitchen with potjies, pots, kettles and pans, two plate gascooker, braa facilities and wood.  Ablutions include 2 flush toilets and 2 showers heated with a donkey boiler geyser.  Undercover dining and lapa area.

Overnight cave: sheltered cave with 4-6 man beds.  Braai grid.  Collect own wood.  Shower drums that can be heated for hot showers.  Water cans under waterfall.  Supply own mattresses.

Pertinent information:  Do not tamper with San paintings in cave.  Carry water in dry times.

 

Location of trail:  3km from Swinburn, 25km from Harrismith, 400km from Bloemfontein and 350km from Gauteng and Durban.

 

Acknowledgement and bookings:  Jacana