Panorama of Sanddrif Valley.
(Click on images for enlargement
all images by Alex Aitkenhead)
To get to this part of the hike, we drove for 4 hours from Cape Town, and spent the night at Oasis Bed and Breakfast. Then we drove another 22km to get our permits at Sanddrif Wine Farm, and our final 2km to get to the parking area and the start of this route.
I had been waiting for 2 years to do this route. There was always something that stopped me from doing it. Alex and I were both very excited to finally get here and start the trek up this gauntlet.
This part of the route is fairly simple: Follow the path to the top.
It was not long before our car became a small speck in the car park below.
After walking for 45 minutes, you will reach this massive square rock. This marks the halfway spot in your up route in terms of time.
The tricky part of the route starts here. I have marked the rocks in the picture below to help you should you wish to follow this route yourself.
1,2,3 are bolders that have rolled down and blocked the path up. This is where you need to find your way around the right of boulder 3 and get to the back of it and aim in the direction of point 4 behind it.
(Note: if you pass the left of boulder no.1, you can also climb up the easy route to the top (follow the sign). This is not recommended, as you will be missing out on the most special part of this route).
4. Here you are faced with a 2.5m (90 degree) climb onto the ledge leading to point 5. But first get yourself to point 4.
Follow the ledge to the end, turn left at the end. Be careful as there is one section where the ledge is not wider than an A4 size paper. It gets better immediately after this point.
A short scramble will take you to a massive arch in front of you. Once you reach the arch, scramble between the rocks marked 1 & 2 into a beautiful rock-filled amphitheater.
In the picture below, the amphitheater is show to be about 20m in width. Scramble over the rocks, directly across and opposite the arch. Do not take the more obvious (but not easy) route to your right (more or less where the people are standing in the picture). Rather walk across in the direction of where this photo was taken from. Im sorry to not have taken a picture of this, but for now this is the best that I can do here.
You will be walking towards a massive rock cave, seen in the image below.
Above pic sourced from lastfrog.co.za
Enter this cave on its left side. Its a tight squeeze for 6m of darkness. But you are able to see the light on the other end, the moment you enter the cave. Be careful, and best to switch on your petzl lamp on this tiny part of the route.
The next section of this route took us into the most beautiful rock formation hidden deep into this mountain.