Stok-en-Hoed continues to visit this very popular trail at least once a year, sometimes twice. Due to extreme summer temperatures, the season runs from the beginning of May until mid-September only.
In spite of the fact that it remains one of the tougher hikes in Southern-Africa, we find there is enough natural wonder and inspiration along the way to see it through, especially for those who come prepared.
Although flexible, we prefer to complete the hike over 6 calendar days. We find that to be a more rounded experience, leaving enough chance to marvel at the beauty of some very special landscapes.
As from 2020 we will also offer a 3-day hike for those who prefer a faster pace.
Day one (afternoon)
The steep descent to ‘The Beach’. Regular stops for photographs of some fascinating views along the way. Distance – only 2 kilometres but more than 2 hours required to get to the river.
Please note that there are no overnight facilities on the trail, just pure nature.
A first sunrise in the canyon means anticipation for the day ahead. Expect palewinged starlings in abundance, competing for a scrap of just about anything edible. Breakfast after about an hour of walking at Rianne-se-Gat (Rianne’s Hole). Reaching the famous Vespa later during the day and round one more bend in the afternoon. 8 kilometres
A good chance to be startled by the early call of Egyptian geese ensuring all are awake. Morning reflections of ancient canyon walls to inspire and get you going. Highlight of the day: A surprise spa treatment for sore muscles at Sulphur springs. A longer stretch in the afternoon, sleeping at Cloudy Corner. 14 kilometres
More even terrain from now on. Sunlit views of Table Mountain in the morning with our arrival likely to be announced by a troop of baboons. Look out for some stray horses in the canyon as well as an interesting grey form of mountain chat. Past Verlangvlei (Pool of longing) in the afternoon on our way to the first short cut, overnighting at Breakfast Bend. 18 kilometres
Pressing on beyond Kooigoedhoogte (Bedding heights), Fourfinger Rock and the grave of a lone German soldier. Skaapvlakte (Sheep plains) in the afternoon and down to Sandy slopes for our last night under the stars. Time for stories and staring into the camp fire. 18 kilometres
On the final morning, a stretch of 8 kilometres to reach Ai-Ais (‘Burning water’ in the local Nama language) in time for breakfast and fresh filter coffee. And for many the strong conviction that it must be done again. Some day soon..
Get these right
Shape ∼ Come fit and prepared. Do a few proper practise hikes before with 12-15 kilogram on your back.
Shoes ∼ For some the most important part of their gear. Not too old, not brand new.
Start ∼ Each day early. We get going at a moderate pace not too long after first light each day, allowing a chance for decent siestas, time to enjoy Sulphur springs, reaching our overnight spots well before dark etc.
Space ∼ For others. Watch the cohesion of your group – it is important to stay within sight of one another but just as much to keep your distance..
Stars ∼ We normally go around new moon. Stay up a bit later if you can and spoil yourself to some magnificent night skies down south.
Drop ∼ From the start down to the river there is a decrease in altitude of 400 metres over a distance of less than 2 kilometres. Read steep. From there to Ai-Ais it drops another 200 metres only.
Distance ∼ These days the popular route inclusive of short cuts means a hike of around 68 kilometres.
Difficulty ∼ As mentioned above, the canyon hike does not change much in altitude but there are a lot of stones, boulders and sandy stretches to overcome. For 5 successive days. As a benchmark during preparation, you should be comfortable with a 3-5 hour hike in diverse terrain.