Take the road less travelled

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An easy contender for one of the most breathtaking hikes in South Africa, the Swart Tobie trail is relatively unknown. But it rates right up there with the best.

In a world of extreme sports, hiking may seem a bit lame. If that’s your perspective, perhaps the 42-km Swart Tobie hike will change your mind. From sheer cliffs, fields of flowers and mysterious diamond mines to inaccessible beaches, the four-day trail will leave you breathless in more ways than one. So don’t be fooled into thinking this trek is anything like a stroll on the beach.

With rugged the operative word, you’ll have to bring along 15 kg of all creature comforts except water and firewood on this slackpacking expedition. That includes a spade for ablutions. Warm clothes and an extra pair of trainers also wouldn’t be a bad idea. All supplies, tents and bedding will be dropped off at the overnight spots.

Along the route, a series of colour-coded Swart Tobie boards indicate halfway, ascents, descents, plus interesting, lunch and overnight spots. In the event that you might want to feast on freshly caught crayfish for supper from 15 November to April, remember to pack the required permits.

Managing 10 km a day may seem like chicken feed, but it still requires mettle – especially if high tide is at midday. Bird life is prolific, delightful tidal pools are filled with crayfish and mussels, plus intimidating rock formations make for superb photo opportunities.

Day 1

Arrive at Boesmangrot, a well-ventilated cave 10 km from Lutzville on the farm Kliphuis, for your first night. Celebrate with a braai and a hot shower (on sunny days only!). But there’s no electricity, so pack your emergency lights.

The next morning you park your car at the owner’s house 4 km away. Then you’re ready to roll from Spuitgat se Baai to Luck se Baai on a breezy saunter. Marine life abounds on this 8,8-km stretch and the brave can swim to their heart’s content.

Day 2

From Luck se Baai it’s a manageable 9.38 km to Camp David. You’ll be rewarded with up-close views of African Black Oystercatcher flocks and other birds congregating at the mouth of the Olifants River.

Day 3

Ah, and now for the strenuous bit. A whopping 13,94 km from Camp David to Langklip, upstream along the Olifants river banks. It also features sublime views of the land/sea ecosystems.

Day 4

Easy does it on the 9.56 km trek from Langklip to Kliphuis along the Olifants river. Mind you, for lazy bones, there’s the option of a boat trip from Langklip to Kliphuis. After lunch at Boomhuis, pat yourself on the back: the trail is done and dusted. Then it’s time to relax, sightsee or visit Fryer’s Cove Winery at Doringbaai for a well-deserved tipple.

For the first time in four days, you’ll be able to luxuriate in the shower that evening, after which you can sit down to a slap-up dinner at the owner’s house on Kliphuis farm.

Book

The hikes require a minimum of two hikers and up to a maximum of 15. Contact Laurette on 071 4817096; info@groenvleiplaas.co.za