Andrew Beetge led a competent and fit group of members on a full day hike and scramble in the Groot-Drakenstein mountains on the 31st July. It was a perfect winter’s day with not a breath of wind or cloud in the sky.
15 of us met at 8 am sharp at the Banhoek Conservancy parking lot to set off for the day, passing a herd of Eland as we headed off. After a very short walk on the flat, the incline began, and lasted approximately three and a half hours. Roughly guided by sporadic cairns up Dragoon Buttress, the climb is unrelenting at what feels like a near vertical gradient.Once at the top we were rewarded with beautiful views over the Franschhoek surrounds, as well as a sneak peak into the upcoming imposing and magnificent Duiwelskloof.We made our way round on (relatively) flat ground to the head of the kloof, where we stopped for lunch and a shift in gears toward the descent. The kloof is full of surprises and is walled by awe-inspiring cliffs rising hundreds of meters up. Following the recent good rains, the river was gushing down almost from the head of the kloof, near the overhang. There are some big twists in the kloof so it is never possible to see it in its entirety, but every section is grand and imposing and with its own character.The river course is marked by Rooiels/ Butterspoon, Water Alders and Wild Almond trees, which grow in number as the water flow increases too. There were also some lovely blue Babiana villosula out, and the mountain was dotted with Erica viscaria.Before the kloof opened out into the flatland, a few brave members immersed themselves in the icy water, which served as good preparation for the last slog back round the bottom of the mountain to get back to the cars. We made the round trip in 8 hours, all in all a very satisfying and rewarding day.
Photos: Andrew Beetge and Chris Vynbos