Eastern Cape Drakensberg Adventure – Exploring the “Wild Side of the Drakensberg” by foot, pedal, hoof and paddle – Are you looking for adventure, exhilaration and variety from your next holiday? Wild Mountain Adventures based in the stunning Eastern Cape Highlands has the perfect answer. Their ‘High 5’ adventure trail offers you the chance to explore “The Wild Side of the Drakensberg” using a different mode of transport each day: hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and river rafting …
This is your chance to get away from it all in a pristine mountain environment. No work, no cellphones, no traffic. Just clean air, great food and the chance to have an adventure you will never forget …
‘Base Camp’ for Wild Mountain Adventures is the beautifully preserved Victorian farmhouse, Rosstrevor and on arrival you will be warmly greeted by your guides and hosts for the trail Kate and Phil. I should also mention the enthusiastic welcome you will be given by Tinker the loving collie cross who has learned to herd people rather than sheep and prides herself in her role as lead guide and Head of Customer Hospitality!
After a chance to refresh and relax dinner is served in The Old Dairy Restaurant which is housed in a wonderful 1890s sandstone barn recently converted using natural materials found on the farm. A word of warning about Phil’s cooking: the food is delicious and the portion sizes are hearty, so don’t arrive expecting to lose weight on this adventure holiday!
The good news is that throughout the trail all luggage is transported by the back up team, so you only need to carry your day bags, a camera and a sense of adventure After dinner there is a full briefing on the days to follow and a chance to get to know your guides over a relaxing drink in the bar.
Day One – Mountain Biking to Avoca
After a farmhouse breakfast the adventure begins with a mountain bike route to Avoca Cottage, home for the second night. The trail can be adjusted to accommodate varying levels of fitness and cycling experience. Entry level mountain bikes are provided for those wanting to gently pedal the quiet gravel roads whilst adrenaline junkies can bring their own bikes and ‘put the mountain into mountain biking’ by testing their skills on single track farm paths and rocky descents.
A picnic lunch is provided at a riverside swimming spot, giving the chance for everyone to cool off in a natural mountain ‘jacuzzi’ that will leave you feeling clean and invigorated. Dinner will be served at Avoca and there is ample time to relax and enjoy the views of Snowdon peak – tomorrow’s hiking destination.
Day Two – Hiking to Snowdown Falls
The hike to Snowdon follows a trail through an exquisitely beautiful valley, with towering mountains on all sides. First impressions are of the quiet, until your ears adapt their volume controls to the peaceful surroundings; then you realise that there is the constant music of birdsong and bubbling streams to accompany the rhythm of your steady footsteps. This ‘walk on the wild side’ follows the meandering route of the river till you reach Snowdon Falls that plummet down from the craggy peaks above.
If the high altitude hike doesn’t take your breath away, then the views will. A well-deserved swim in the pools below the falls precedes a picnic lunch and the downstream journey back to Rosstrevor where your luggage has arrived as if by magic!
Day Three – Horse Riding
After a day cycling and a day hiking it’s time to rest those legs and be introduced to some lovely horses who will willingly do the climbing for you. All of the horses are born and bred in these mountains so are surefooted and know the terrain like the back of their hoof. Kate and Phil will match riders to the most suitable mount and help novice riders with some basic instruction.
The trail is adjusted according to the group’s level of experience, but includes gorgeous views, river crossings, and for the more experienced riders the opportunity to pick up the pace and enjoy a faster canter through the farmlands. Lunch is served by the river with plenty of time to relax and swim whilst horses and riders can enjoy a snooze in a huge shady sandstone cave.
Day Four – Mountain Biking and River Rafting
An early start is needed for the busiest day of the trail as boats, bikes and camping gear are loaded in readiness for a big adventure. Thank heavens Phil and Kate take most of the climbing out of the mountain biking by driving everyone to the picturesque Wartrail district. At this point the cyclists are dropped off to enjoy a twisting descent with dramatic views down to the historic Jochim river famed for cattle raiding skirmishes between the Basothos and Xhosas.
At Mosheshesford three small spruits convene to form the source of the Kraai River, itself a mountain tributary of the mighty Orange.
This is our launching point for the river rafting trip and you can enjoy a relaxing lunch break whilst the back up crew gets busy unpacking the two man inflatable rafts. After a briefing and steering lesson we get paddling. The Kraai is a beautifully scenic river that flows gently through sandstone gorges The banks are draped with emerald willow branches weighed down with weaver nests that bob in the breeze.
There are no hectic sections of white water, so don’t book expecting the Zambezei, but there are a few small rapids to keep everyone awake and having fun. By late afternoon we arrive at our overnight camp – a huge sandstone Halkrans next to the river. Tents are optional, but most choose to sleep around the camp fire whilst sheltered by the cave. After a hearty bush-braai, a few tots of OBS and maybe a ghost story or two, it’s time to lie back and enjoy the stars overhead.
Day Five – River Rafting and Hiking to Rock Art Cave
The dawn morning chorus stirs camp awake and after breakfast the rafts are back on the Kraai. After an hour’s paddling we pull the boats out and take a hike to an incredible San rock art site that has over 95 paintings in pristine condition. Back on the river we enjoy a few more small rapids including ‘Kate’s Corner’ and ‘Phil’s Flip’.
The section before our lunch stop has outstanding birding including a Black Eagle nesting site. Returning back to Rosstrevor, a late afternoon sundowner on the rocky outcrops above the farm provides a fitting end to a true Wild Mountain Adventure.
View photographs of previous High 5 Adventure Trail Trips:
What is the deal?
• 5 day activity holiday in the Eastern Cape Drakensberg
• Hiking, mountain biking, horse riding and river rafting
• Beautiful scenery includes mountain peaks, river gorges, waterfalls, sandstone formations and caves
• Fully catered and all equipment/guiding included
• Overnight accommodation in tranquil Guest Farm B&Bs
Where is it?
When is the best time to do it?
• For larger groups (6-8) we can arrange a private trail any time between mid-November and mid-April.
What do we need to bring?
• Outdoor clothing, cameras, daybag. Discount available for those bringing their own mountain bikes.
• Minimum group 4 persons (but we may be able to put together singles to make up larger group)
• Maximum group 8 persons
• Max Weight 120 kgs
• No pregnant mothers
• Aged 12 to 70 years
• Booking essential
What is provided?
• Breakfast, lunch and dinner
• Comfortable farmstay accommodation (approx 3 Star)
• Guiding and landowner fees
• All equipment (discounts available for those bringing their own MTB)
• Transportation of luggage between overnight stop