Things to do in the Drakensberg on a rainy day

The Drakensberg is a phenomenal destination for outdoor activities. It has great hiking trails, zip lining, swimming and waterfalls. But what happens when it’s rainy, misty or cloudy? Which was the case for two of days we were on holiday. You can’t stay inside all day because that would be a real waste. You could snuggle up by the fire with a good book but let’s be honest, you could have done that at home. Thankfully, although its chilly, there are loads of activities to keep you entertained while waiting for the sun to make an appearance.

 

We came all this way, so come rain or shine, the adventures continue!

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Hiking in the Majestic Drakensberg Mountains

I started hiking as a recreational activity while I was in university. Before that it was one of those mandatory activities that you could not get out of at school, despite very colourful and creative excuses on my part. To me, the fact that I was a pedestrian at the time was my “weekly contribution” towards a healthy lifestyle and I wasn’t really looking for added extras. 

Over the years, that feeling has changed and my attraction for hiking in the wilderness, or even closer to home, has grown. Even so, it had been a long time since my last hike.This year I decided to change that and kill two birds with one stone by going hiking and doing so in a place I have never visited before as an actual destination as opposed to a drive through– the Drakensberg.

Hiking in the Drakensberg Mountains – Incredible views all around.

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The time I went Kloofing for the first time…by MISTAKE

On a recent weekend getaway, we headed to Mountain Sanctuary, a small nature reserve in the Magaliesberg with stunning crystal clear rock pools. It’s a great place for camping, swimming, and family fun. I know this because while sitting quietly at one of the pools a whole troop of families, with I don’t know how many little kids, descended on the pools. I heard them before I even saw a single person.

Mountain Sanctuary

Mountain Sanctuary

After chatting to the park guide we opted to buy a mountain pass for the nearby Tonquani and Cedarberg Kloofs and go for what was described as a “short hike with a few wet patches.” However, it ended up being closer to ‘kloofing,’ was definitely nowhere near short and wading hip deep in freezing water is a little more than a wet patch! Still, we live and learn. Here are some of those lessons for next time (or not, who knows).

 

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Hiking in the Wilderness

Go hiking in the wilderness…
Check
Drink fresh water straight out the mountain streams…
Check
Take own nature photographs for future computer screensaver use…
 Check

 

Swim in large rock pool…

 

Check
Keep your cool as unidentified smooth thing brushes against your leg while swimming in said rock pool…
Check

I don’t usually start off the year with a three day hike in the wilderness. In fact, I don’t usually go on three day hikes. Nevertheless, 2012 started off rather unusually and there I was… on a hike.
Our goal: “Die Hel”, one of the largest rock pools in the Western Cape. Unfortunately it is only accessible by natural modes of transport. That’s right, legs and feet. So, armed with a backpack, more tuna than the tuna run and a plethora of positive affirmations. Two noobs and I joined 3 serious amigos and set off on a wilderness trail.
Die Hel in Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area, Western Cape, South Africa
There are many things you need when you go on a hike. A whistle, to call for help when you are hundreds of kilometres away from civilisation, is not one of them. A large walking stick is useful as a third-leg or bashing the reeds or just cos it looks like something out of the Lion King…hey what can I say?
I’m a city slicker…
Die Hel in Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area, Western Cape, South Africa
Being a noob means one generally defers to those who know more than you. You manage to curb your desire to make pertinent statements that you would ordinarily make such as: “Wow, this rock looks awfully familiar”, “Are you sure you know where we are going?” and “Did anyone else hear that?”, “No, seriously. What was that sound?”
Unfortunately, it also leaves you open to abuses such as “the hut is right around the corner”, “it’s just over the hill”, “these are edible” and “there is only one steep”.
*raised eyebrow*
Dusk in The Wilderness; Cape Town, romantic, South Africa, sunset, Travel
Since it’s a protected area, there are no fires allowed. So, braaiing over that large camp fire singing songs, telling freaky stories and eating roasted marshmallows is out. However, sitting in the quite wilderness and enjoying the stillness or listening to the sound of the river and waterfall is in. That is, until someone starts screaming about phantom flying spiders. For future references “the creepies are more afraid of you than you are of them”. Keep telling yourself this until you believe it. Repetition, a good learning habit.
Rock formation in Groot Winterhoek Wilderness Area,  South Africa

 

This area is known for its remarkable rock formations and the breathtaking rock pool.  I won’t lie; the walk to the actual rock pool is challenging but well worth the effort…
one step at a time.