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~ I dont blog about things to be liked. I blog about things that I like ~ ... so that one day, on my death bed, I will have said and done what I wanted to do, and die peacefully without regrets.
Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders & says..' Oh shit....She's awake'

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Manoutsa Trail - A Rumble in the African Jungle

Hiking Trail: Manoutsa Hike, J.G. Strijdom Tunnel, Blyde River.
Name of Reserve / Area: Manoutsa
Nearest Towns: Hoedspruit, Gravelotte, Nelspruit, Pilgrims Rest, Kruger National Park
Province: Limpopo Province
Country: South Africa

Duration of hike: 4 hours one way

Directions to get there: From Hoedspruit, you take the R36 and drive East. Pass the Manoutsa Resort on your right as you drive up the mountain pass. Drive through the J.G. Strijdom Tunnel. About 1 km after the tunnel is another craft market on the left. This is where the route starts. Do not attempt this route on your own or without a guide. You are welcome to email me should you wish to go on this route.

Contact Information:

Best time of year to go: All year. In summer the lakes can be swam in, in winter its bearable from the African heat.

What costs did you incur to do this hike: R30 pp for the permit, plus costs for the guides available on request.

How safe is it: Well, this is Africa. In my opinion, this is on your own risk. You walk in the deepest darkest jungle. Its beautiful. There are all sorts of wild animals in the mountain. But hiking is an adventure and I did not felt threatened at all - especially being with an experienced guide.

Fresh Water: I would not drink this water, but that's my opinion.

Difficulty: Moderate hike, steep hills, dark caves.

Pets: Not a route to take your pooch on.

How will I rate this hike? Awesome!

I was fortunate to go and visit my best friend from school days in her hometown, Hoedspruit. One of the things we asked her to share with us, is to take us on the Manoutsa Hike.

This must have been one of the most scenic river hikes I have been on so far, please read on and see the pictures. Soon I will load a video that Bernet made, of this hike too.

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so that you can also save them as Desktop Images if you wish to do so.

We started off at the Manoutsa Holiday Resort, on the edge of the Olifants River, at the foot of the Drakensberg mountain.

Adele has friends who know friends that gave us a ride to the top of the mountain. I know it was cheating a little (getting a ride to the top), but beggars cant be choosers!

The drive to the top takes you back through the J.G. Strijdom Tunnel, to the craft market almost right next to start of the hike route.

We got dropped off at the Craft Market, and immediately crossed the road into - what one can genuinely call - the real African jungle.

We came upon many waterfalls and lakes all along the way down.

The walkway is not very clear and this hike must be taken with an experienced guide like Adele.

The route takes you through a few caves, torches and careful treading is par for the course.

Whilst Bernet and I were sitting here watching Adele swim, I noticed a Vine Snake (or Twig Snake) perched on the bush in front of me. Adele told us that these snakes are so poisonous, that they do not have anti-venom for them. If you get bitten by a Vine Snake, the venom thins out your blood to a point that your entire body starts bleeding until you bleed to death. Interesting to say the least. Can you expect anything less than danger in a jungle like this?

More steps and rocks to scramble. This route was not very exhausting, but its not for the faint hearted.

This is another little lake which Bernet likes to jump off the rocks. If you look careful, you will see her flying through the air in the picture above.

When one drives through the J.G. Strijdom tunnel, you will notice a small waterfall from the road. This is a part of the Blyde River, flowing towards the Olifants river. Adele took us right to the bottom of this waterfall, which turned out to be much bigger when standing under it. Each of us had a turn to get a free back massage. The locals believe to cleanse themselves under this waterfall and to gain the powers of the water. We surely did that - and oh what an amazing feeling and thing to experience.

More steps, ropes and rocks to scramble down...

Each lake that we passed by seemed more beautiful than the other.

Finally as we reached the end of our walk, at the bottom of the mountain, we continued to follow the path through the local village. There we had to give them our mountain pass which we paid for at the Manoutsa Holiday Resort.

Im really sad that we unfortunately lost all our pictures of the village and its locals, but it gives me a reason to just have to come back again. The video that I will be loading soon has some pics of the locals and the village, so keep your eyes open for when I load the video.

My best memory of the village was seeing a little baby goat (kid) lying in a corner on some hard rocky ground, in a small patch of shade - desperately trying to avoid the heat of the day. He must have been about a week old. I wiggled myself into the typical 'dilapidated goat pen' and walked over to pick him up. At first he moaned terribly when I tried to pick him up. But after a cuddle and some proper TLC, it was so sad to see how he moaned even more when I put him down to continue on our road further. He came running after me, as if to say "hey! where are you going now!? I want more of that love-stuff!"

Pictures by:
Alex Aitkenhead ...shot bru! they rock as usual. Jx


Kaytee said...

Thank you so much for this interesting report! I enjoyed it and of course the amazing pics! BUT VINE SNAKES???? :-0
I would have been completely PANIC!!! I hate snakes...shiver. And what you have written about the vine snake is HORROR for me:-) You must be quite tough :-)
Best regards from Germany, Kaytee

Head of Troublemaking said...

Haha, no Kaytee, snakes dont really scare me. I dont have any urge to touch or go close to them, but I do feel sorry for them and understand that they are also just animals not wanting us to hurt them - because humans always instinctively want to kill snakes and spiders.

I know they are very dangerous and I will never go close to them, but I will never disturb them in their home / natural environment. We were invading his sunny spot, on the branch... After all, it was really amazing to come so close to such a wild and dangerous animal.

Hope to see you in South Africa one day too (will show you less dangerous routes).

Thanks for the comment :)

Kaytee said... in Germany we dont have snakes because its to cold (well, we may have some but they are not dangerous and I have only seen one in a forest 30 years ago...)

Of course you are right. I do respect every wild animal but i am frightend of snakes and crocodiles (my son loves them :-)). Good to know that there are less dangerous routes in SA :-)

Our wild animals are deers, rabbits and wild boars :-). But you can go hiking and mountain biking here too ;-):
So if you want to have "soft adventure" come to visit! You (not me!! haha) could go kiting too in the North Sea (we have always "weather" ;-) and it is freezing cold).
Have a nice day! Kaytee

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