Kloofing and Abseiling in Magaliesberg

September 15th, 2006 by Thinus Leave a reply »

Fernkloof, Bergheim Holiday Resort
Near: Rustenburg, North West, South Africa
GPS: -25.79589, 27.32048
When: 2006-09-15 to 2006-09-17
Who: Thinus, Naas, Dries, Elizna, Marietta, Anculien, Stefan, Mariaan, Willie, Chris, Marco, Larry…

Kloofing and Abseiling in MagaliesbergWe’ve been long time overdue again for a bigger group weekend so that we can meet new people that’s eager to just get out. The issue was – to get people that you don’t know yet to go with you on a trip (and their parents to pay for it), you need to make it look like its organized. And if you wanna claim that its going to involve hiking in a gorge (aka kloofing) with backpack swimming in 2 degree mountain streams and abseiling down 30m cliffs, you need to proof (in triplicate) that there’s going to be someone with responsibility.

OK, so it ruled me out to arrange this one. (At least I could still help with setting up the projector when Pieter Vrey came and presented his fully organized adventure weekend for us). Yes, there where newbie questions like “do we need shoes?” or “will we get tired?”, but in general the group seemed able and eager. We arranged everything for the weekend and set off with our full color brochure, complete with list and little tick boxes of what to bring, to go and convince who ever is going to pay for us that all is kosher.

Fernkloof is a deep gorge in the Magaliesberg mountain range, accessed from the Bergheim Holiday Resort. The resort offers chalets, swimming pools, tennis courts, and caravan and tent space. Bergheim offers a number of hiking options and being so close to Pretoria and Johannesburg, provides ideal weekend or even day breakaways from the city life.

We arrived here after dark and found that Pieter and his friend Gorden had already made fire for us to braai. We had meat, corn, OBS and some scotch to get the work week out of our heads. We all set up tents and kuiered till late.

Naas volunteered his tent for six of us, and we got comfy for the night. At around 3am we got shaken up by storm strong winds and soon after it started raining. We all had to quickly put away all the camping chairs and other stuff lying outside, and start tying the tents to the pegs like we were supposed to do in the first place. A proper start for the uninitiated!

Kloofing and Abseiling in MagaliesbergStill, when the sun came out next morning, all the rain were gone, and except for a cold breeze and distant clouds, the day looked like a good one for hiking. Because this is a fairly short route, we only needed a day-pack with lunch and a towel. My towel was swapped for the regular GPS, bino’s, PDA with the Roberts 7 bird guide on and a bag full of batteries. The climb to the summit was fair, (about 300m in 1.5km) but the view awesome! Here we had lunch next to the massive gorge on our side which was lined with ferns, clinging to the rock wall (as the name Fernkloof suggests).

Kloofing and Abseiling in MagaliesbergThen started our decent into the kloof. About 100m deep this 50m wide tear in the world is filled with white-cold waterfalls and beautiful rocky streams. At a few places we were only able to go down one-by-one by rope, and at one special spot the only way out was to jump and then swim (with backpacks and all) through about 30m of illegally cold mountain water. Although the whole trip covered just short of 8km, it took us 9 hours to get back to camp, exhausted and hungry.

Kloofing and Abseiling in MagaliesbergDay 2 we went halfway back up the mountain and Pieter and Gorden started setting up the ropes and other gear. We had lunch here and while we were waiting in now surprisingly hot sunshine, were treated to a number of birds and blue headed lizards that played on the cliff. Special flavors included an African Green Pigeon and her young one, the ever-present Emerald-spotted Doves and Black-headed Orioles. A Wailing Cisticola found its way onto my birdlist as a new entry.

Kloofing and Abseiling in MagaliesbergThe cliff face here was concave, ie. the face falls away from you and you do not touch it as you go down the 30m drop. To start off you get into the harness with hard hat on and hook up to the belay rope. Then you walk backwards towards the edge of the cliff, controlling the rope tension until you are hanging horizontally over the edge. Lastly you jump away from the cliff and start abseiling down. Sweet!

As Pieter was the most responsible of us all (and calling the shots), it took forever, but we all got down safe and happy. Thank you for your time and effort man! After packing on our way home we all stopped at a local farm stall next to the road and bought home made fudge and ginger beer. It was obvious: some new friends were made on this trip, which in the end is what its all about. Welcome! (Leave a comment and tell how you experienced it).

Kloofing and Abseiling in Magaliesberg

1 comment

  1. Stefan says:

    Excellent summary of the trip. Must say the photo’s bring back old memories and it stirs when you are so far from your friends. The level of mutual support and trust was striking amongst a group of people form different walks of life. Nobody can describe this weekend’s experience better than mastercard.

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