Oorlogskloof Rock Pigeon Route 5 day Hiking Trail outside Nieuwoudtville, Northern Cape – Quick Guide

Oorlogskloof 030Deserves to be one of the great hiking trails in South Africa! Remote, authentic and adventurous. You are continuously confronted with little rock scramble detours which highlight a kloof, waterfall, rock arch or just spectacular view. There are many, many signs naming local plants throughout. This is a real treat and everybody will get a better sense of our local plant life.

There are shorter trail options available too and a couple of day hikes too.

Pretty but super busy in flower season (Aug and Sept)

Overview stats:

Distance: 52 km

Total Ascent: 1800 m

Total Descent: 1800 m

Style of route: circular

Normal Duration of hike: 4 to 5 days

Landowner: Oorlogskloof Nature Reserve. For permits and further info call (027) 218 1159

Events: Ugene Nell holds the Oorlogskloof Trail Run here in April and this is a fantastic way to experience the terrain for those that like to move fast but don’t necessarily see much of the surroundings.


We collect our permits in Nieuwoudtville at the Nature Conservation Office. Nicolette is helpful with maps etc. We check into the Wapad Guest House in Nieuwoudtville and sort kit for tomorrow’s early start. It is super basic but a roof over our heads (and a roaring fire) is all we need for the night.

Frost awaits as we drive to Groot Tuin (6 km back towards Vanrhynsdorp you see the turn off to the left, then it is another 10 km on the good dirt road).

Day 1: 12Oorlogskloof map day 1 km Groot Tuin to Kameel se Gat

The last mobile reception is in Nieuwoudtville or close to the escarpment overlooking Vanrhynsdorp. We park our car under the pine trees as instructed and start our walk. There is a perennial stream 87m into the hike. Don’t rely on this in summer though. The 4km to Brakwater takes us 2 h at an easy pace. The hut looks amazing. We decided to do the first two days as one so this ended up in a pretty long and tough day. It was the hardest day of the 4. I would probably do it again in that way though.

Oorlogskloof 009A short while after the Brakwater hut we cross the stream while still on the jeep track. The two logs that symbolise a bridge are not confidence inspiring enough so we slide across like crabs anticipating a cold plunge. A short sharp hill and we turn off onto pleasant single track. Views are great and we see the Kareebos hut below us. The trail descends and then the tough boulder hoping section starts along the base of the river. You wind in and out of boulder fields which makes going slow and tough. Finally the climb up the slope to the Driefontein waterfall. We were told that unfortunately the hut’s roof had a leak (more like it did not have a roof) so we descended to Kameel se Gat back at stream level. Glad we did not have to do that on cold legs, first thing in the morning. Having said that the sun set views from the top must be amazing.

The night proved to be pretty cold and it took us a while to get going in the morning. Glad I had packed porridge for breakfast – quick and easy to make a warming meal on my MSR.

Day 2: 12km Kameel se Gat to Doltuin

Oorlogskloof map day 32

Oorlogskloof 012

sun touching the rim of the canyon early morning

We cruise a few minutes down to the river and cross the smart bridge to the far bank. The ascent up the far bank take us 45 minutes or so. It finishes with an amazing chimney and rope/ladder combination which spits you out on the escarpment. Staying left we cruise on easier going that the previous day. As we descend down into the valley we pass some graves close to the path under a bunch of trees. I can’t imagine a better place to rest in peace. The path continues a few km to reach the Doltuin hut at what seems to be the head of the valley.


Oorlogskloof 019

water at Doltuin

Here it is possible to take the escape route which cuts out the last day. We take a stroll around in the evening to loosen the legs. The river is full but the water is cold so we decline a swim in the river.


Enjoying the last few rays of light on the stoep we settle in for soup and an early dinner. Tomorrow is a long day.

Day 3: 15km Doltuin to Pramkoppies

Oorlogskloof map day 4

Oorlogskloof 027

Granaatdraai with the hut in the far distance

The early section meanders up the valley. You can see the path from the hut as it ascends the head of the valley. We fill up water bottles under some trees which is a really pretty spot.


Oorlogskloof 047

chain securing a rocky descent

The climb up Granaatdraai is not too bad and we quickly find out selves on top. A cool wind is blowing so we walk in long sleeves all day. Today is the day of 10 rock arches and we start counting. We make good time and have lunch at the turn off to Arrie se Punt. We leave our bags here and scamper along the loop to quickly reach the outlook. You get mobile reception here and I respond to some birthday messages. Weird being drawn back into that seemingly foreign world. We take photos and admire the view of Gifberg, Vanrhynsdorp and the VanRhyns Pass (another Thomas Bains masterpiece). The walk back to the junctions takes us through some interesting kloofs and rock formations, well worth the extra little loop.


We continue our count of rock arches as you can see here.

A bit of open ground and then we start to descend along the side of Pramkoppie. The path shows signs of erosion and needs a bit of TLC but we manage it quickly in the afternoon sun. A short stroll along the valley floor to the most beautifully located hut below red cliffs and close to some trees and a stream. We soak up the rays. A great way to spend my birthday.

The water spot is among the bushes behind the hut and is marked so are the toilets at the huts. No roof, just au Naturel long drop.

The next day is our last so we plan to leave a little earlier to accommodate the drive home too.

Day 4: 9 km Pramkoppie to Groot Tuin

Oorlogskloof map day 5A short distance from the hut we visit rock art in a cute shelter. The path ascends the valley slope and we hear baboons announcing themselves. Today the path skirts across the top of the fairly flat escarpment and we get great views. The grey skies add to the scene and bring out the colours of the land. When you are almost at the junction to Groot Tuin you are led into the heart of Spelonkop. Narrow Rock passages turn this way and that until you are spat out on the path you came in on. A short up hill and a stroll through the initial grove of Poplars lands you back at the car.

Recommended Tactics:

The Rock Pigeon Route is comfortably completed in either 4 or 5 days. Day 2 (on the 5 days schedule) is the toughest going as you have a long section of navigating through a boulder field which takes its toll. This was the second section of our Day 1.

Oorlogskloof 058

huts are comfortable

Huts offer bunk beds and wooden tables and benches to house between 12 to 16 pax. Huts all have solar electricity for lighting and you can charge your electronics. A three prong socket is available. Bring your adapters.


I recommend that you drive to Nieuwoudtville on day one and get sorted in accommodation there and then start the hike. This leaves enough time to combine day 1 and 2 of the hike. The quoted times are conservative but not overly so. Going is generally slower than on other trails due to the path weaving in and out of boulders, gullies and interesting features.

There is no reliable mobile phone reception along the trail except at Arrie se Punt and the edge of the escarpment at Pramkoppie.

Water could be a problem in summer and it gets pretty cold in the middle of winter so in between season are probably best for hiking.

Nutrition / Hydration availability:

It is quite a good idea to carry a few extra water containers to fill up at the overnight huts. Generally the water source is about 50 m to 100 m away from the hut.

Other info:

Closest Food Retailer: Clanwilliam has a pretty good Spar, butcheries and bottle stores. Otherwise  sparse resources can be obtained in Van Rhynsdorp.


Ringing the Bell:


approaching Orange Peal Gap, Cathedral Peak left of center, The Bell further left

I leave the Hikers Parking at  6h00 sharp. Scouting the first river crossing last night helps so it goes quickly and I gain altitude. I see two lights below me. They have chosen a different path. We all have.

I am walking out of the darkness into mountains cast in shadows. As in Magic and Loss there is an equal part hope too.

It is what ever it seems.

‘I was thinking of a series of my dreams’

Patter of my feet on the trail.

‘Was not thinking of anything specific’

Lyrics running my head

I shut them out


looking back up Bugger’s Gully

I am surprised to reach Bugger Gully in 2:40. The other side has snow and I follow imprints in the snow trying to guess how long they have been there. I meet them later. The owners of those feet.

You can’t listen to metal with the volume low. I drop into the wave.


The line between shadow and light is distinct. But we all follow our own line. Some have rumble strips to warn us, others come unseen and deadly. Some are crossed and recrossed, skipped over even? Without a care in the world. Others scare us. Right now one side is sun and heat. The other biting cold. I can’t understand why anybody would choose the suffering unless to learn and ultimately emerge. I carve my own way and leave only a faint sign of my passing. My passage however leaves a huge impression. Not the act but the meaning we give.


looking back towards Cathedral Peak

I come across white tufts, not snow. Flags waving I the breeze. I shat here! I wonder if we will ever learn.

I stumble upon Twins Cave quite unexpectedly.

And suddenly it is done.

I find a spot in the sun and out of the wind and eat my old school sandwich.

The descent down Mlanbonjwa is less fun than I thought. Typical berg pass which is too steep to run but I lose height quickly. The obligatory bush whack does not last long.

I am unkind. I enjoy running the flatter sections and catch up to the footprints of three days earlier.

I have to commit to running where I can. Walking always seems so much easier. But then I don’t want easy. There is nothing of interest there. There is interest (and learning) I suffering perhaps?

‘I walk by tranquil lakes and streams’

I don’t have the commitment to break 8h (or 7 for that matter) I arrive at my lone tent in the camp site and think back on one of the best days in the mountains I have ever had.

The lone dear makes its rounds later. I say ‘Hi’ and observe for a very long time.

‘The hard thing is to hold on to what I learn there in those high and wild places – those fleeting glimpses of the truth of reality – and to live it when I am back in my everyday. That is the real challenge.’

Lizzy Hawker


Several lines above are quoted (and misquoted) from the below. Thanks for the inspiration.



Moxica and the horse – Vangelis

Series of dreams – Bob Dylan

Link 2-3-4 – Rammstein

Tell ol Bill – Bob Dylan

Mothers of the disappeared – U2

The medallion calls – Klaus Bandelt

Someday baby – Bob Dylan

Track 5 More Melon – U2

Things have changed – Bob Dylan and Mark Knopfler I believe in you – U2

99 red balloons – Nena

Here comes the pain – Farmer Boys

Pa Pa Pa Palavas – Triplets of Bellville soundtrack

Myburgh’s Ravine: Top 10 trail running routes Table Mountain #4

nMyburghs RavineA real mountain run on a remote part of the mountain. The path is remarkably well worn. The actual Myburgh’s Ravine would probably be quite wet and treacherous in winter or after rain.

Myburghs Ravine map to startApproach: Drive up to Farrier’s Way from Valley Road. You will pass through a  and park your vehicle at the end of the road. Take care not to block any driveways.

The path heads up the hill (through a canopy of trees) about 50 m from the end of the Cul de Sac. Just behind the back line of houses there is a gate. You will need to call the number on the board to get the code for the gate.

Continue up to the contour path. Turn right and continue for a short while.

As soon as the path dips down a little and enters some trees, look out for a vague path branching off to the left. This is to the left of the stream. There are a few different options here but they all lead to the same place in the gorge. You will face a few short rock steps requiring care. The Ravine narrows and you will need to follow the river bed for a while. Cairns and a steep path up the right hand slope brings you out of the ravine.

The path winds up into the boggy reeds above. Continue to the crest of the rise where you will find the path. Turn left and up a step. Follow this to the top of Llundudno Ravine.

Down the scramble via some stainless steel ladder rungs.

When you hit the treeline just above the Suikerbossie Restaurant turn left. This path undulates a fair bit and the strong will be able to run it all. Take the first turn right after the wooden bridge to take you down to the start. You will need the code to access the gate again. This last 2.3 km is a great test of fitness.

7.3 km, 630m of ascent.

90 minutes is a pretty respectable time for this loop.

Find my movescount link here.

Urban Trail – Constantia Greenbelt – Table Mountain top trail run #7

GReenbelt loopThis great loop does not wonder more than 50 m from houses at any point. Despite this it feels like you are in nature. The temps are generally cool under the green canopy of trees. Almost equal mix of single track and pavement makes this a real gem. There are no major hills so really gentle to get into a nice pace. Many shorter loops and variations are available. Just go and explore! otherwise you can use the map above and follow this loop.

The Constantia Virgin Active Gym offers a great base to start from.

Water can be found at three points along the trail in fountains sponsored by VOB running club. Some sections feel a little remote so I would recommend that women run in groups. There are many shorter loops available as I am sure Dion will confirm. This is a great place to play and marvel at this piece of nature in our city. Each section of trail is broken up with a section of road. Most notably Southern Cross Drive (that bastard hill of the Two Ocean’s Half Marathon).

Die Hell is pretty special. Go and have fun here between session of Turkey!

You are more than likely to get sections of this trail wrong the first few times but that is part of the adventure. You will never get very lost.

11,5km 100% runnable. Ice cream trucks can not be guaranteed.

Puffer Prep 201:


sunrise over Cape Point

Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

I can’t claim this as my own saying but it is a British Army adage. So what does this mean for race preparation?

1) Do not try something on race day or race week that you have not tested before!

2) You want to know how each piece of individual gear works but also how they work in conjunction to each other. (I once owned a CAPESTORM Helium jacket of a few generations ago. They had the stow pocket in the centre of the back. Nice idea but would cause instant chafe if you were wearing a backpack.)

3) Gear choices that are easy to manage. We have all run along and had a pebble in a shoe. We ignore it and the pebble grows and grows into a boulder until our feet are trashed. When eventually emptying our shoe we see the boulder is a mere grain of sand. You want to deal with minor issues that come up early before they build into major debilitating problems later.

4) Weather conditions change during the day and while you should plan for these you also need alternatives and stand by plans. Practice these beforehand so that it becomes natural.

What is PUFfer?

It is the most iconic point to point trail race in SA.

Think of  it as Old Mutual Two Ocean’s Ultra Marathon 56km plus a run over Table Mountain.

Or OMTO toughest climbs (Chapman’s Peak and Constantia Nek) followed by the PUFfer route from Ou Wapad onwards!

PUFfer has many checkpoints, seconding and spectator points. This means there are many points of access that you have to your seconds.

The route is not technical. There is lots of running until Constantia Nek then big climb and descent of TM. Prepare for the descent down Platteklip. In my experience it hurts more when running Three Peaks!

How do I prepare?

Know the route:

IMG_5169A)    You will know that you will run at least the first 13km in total darkness. And that the hill up to the reserve gate feels super steep.

You will know that you will get wet feet past Redhill and just below the Ou Wapad short cut. I would plan to change from road shoes into trail shoes at the start of the Ou Wapad.

You will know that it can be very warm on level five and two years ago we had hail on Vlakkenberg. Plan your clothing layers to work in both these extremes.

You will know that you will walk a lot from Constantia Nek to Maclear’s Beacon.

B) Know legal shortcuts. Check here for my blog post on this.

This will give you some idea of timing for each leg. In other words I know that I will take just under one hour to run from the start to the Cape Point Nature Reserve Gate where I will see my seconds for the first time. Besides my running kit I would plan to drink from a 500 ml water bottle on the bus trip down there. I will throw the bottle into a bin at the start and then run without anything for the first hour. I might mix some concentrated 32Gi Endure powder into a squeeze bottle to have with water at the 7km water table.

I would plan every leg of the race like this and my seconds would know exactly what I need where.

Know yourself and your gear: What are you comfortable with? Do you want to stay comfortable the whole way (Carry a lot of stuff) or do you want to run the best time you possibly can (suffer a bit more)? This is a pretty personal choice and nobody can make it for you. It is important to actively make this decision though as it will affect every other decision around your race. Read Andrew Skurka for more background.

at UTMB in 2010 I had detailed time estimates for my seconds

at UTMB in 2010 I had detailed time estimates for my seconds

Use your supporters: give them clear instructions with what gear you need for each section. What time they can expect you and where.

Two years ago I was supporting Adrian at his first PUFfer. I was waiting at Constantia Nek when I chatted to the second of one of the leading women. He asked me for a energy bar as he thought that his runner might like one. This is a

clearly labeled nutrition bags for each seconding point, make it easy for your seconds

clearly labeled nutrition bags for each seconding point, make it easy for your seconds

sponsored runner! I was amazed but gladly gave him what he needed.

I want to be in and out of transitions as quickly as possible. I don’t want to be stationary.

Come back in the next few days for my post on gear.

Top Ten Table Mountain Trail Routes: #2 Arboretum, Silvermine Loop

This is the second installment to document my Top Trail routes on Table Mountain. The first is here.

Tokai Silvermine trail run 260614Overview:

Super steep but (only just) runnable ascent to the fantastic loop around the Silvermine Dam. The route starts in forest plantation and takes you into the fynbos higher up.

Distance: 13 km (1h45 to 3h)

Total Ascent: 770 m

Total Descent: 770 m

Style of route: lolly pop

95 % single track, 5 % jeep track


Start at the Tokai Arboretum parking lot and go through the thatched arch. Up the main path and then find the single track which takes a pretty direct line up the hill. You will cross several jeep tracks to eventually get to the highest (Level 5) cross this and zig zag up to the ridge line. The last section is the most technical. Once you have reached the nek turn right towards Elephants Eye cave. Just below the fire lookout turn left and follow the level jeep track. This will join another dirt road heading up the hill. After a very short distance you will branch off left on a single track path. This traverses and climbs basically doing a long loop above and around the Silvermine Dam. You will hit the same dirt road as before (but on the other side of the valley). Down this to the dam. Skirt underneath the dam wall and into the parking lot. On the far side go up a single track path to a ridge line seperating you from Tokai. Left along here to where you came up. Follow the single track down to the start.

Recommended Tactics:

It will take some determination to run all the way up to the initial ridge and fire lookout. The angle is such that the temptation is rather big to walk in places. This route is 100% runnable bar the odd step around a boulder or two. A really good tester.

Water en route:

In wet weather you will find plenty streams. In dry months the dam is about half way and offers a great swimming spot!

Other info:

Park your car at the Arboretum. This is located at the end of Tokai Road. There is a security guard on duty during office hours. Don’t leave anything in your vehicle as break ins happen outside of these hours.

Public Transport: There is no public transport access to the start.

Supporter Activities: The Arboretum is a great spot for family and children to play and have some coffee and cake while you play on the trails. The nearby Porter Market on Saturday mornings is just around the corner. This is also the launching point for Cape Town’s best mountain biking.

Other Info: Trail and Tar is a great mountain biking and trail running store only a few minutes away. Staff are active and knowledgeable and can assist with directions, gear and the sale of last minute nutrition.

leo_rust’s 1:43 h Running Move #RunningMove.

Top Ten Table Mountain Trail routes: Kringe in die Bos

The trails are wet, evenings are dark and temps are cool: perfect for hitting the trails.

I want to list my top ten trail routes that showcase the best of Table Mountain in no particular order. All can be completed in 1 to 3h depending on speed. Today I feature one of my old and all time favorites.

Kringe in die BosKringe in die Bos was inspired by trail legend Andre le Grange and came about when I started to lead some CRAG runs. I wanted something unique and interesting. Something that in theory is 100% runnable for most and connects some cool little single tracks with more well known features. Many variations exist and part of the fun of this route is that you can change the overall feel of the route by just changing some little sections. Enjoy the explore!


For those new to Newlands Forest:

Park at the Newlands Fire Base. (Free parking) start at the boom and head left up the short section of tar. continue taking the left most option until you are forced to go straight up next to a fence line. This marks the boundary to Kirstenbosch Gardens. At the dirt road turn left again and down the steep hill. Right at the bottom and up up up to the Rollercoaster jeep track which goes up and down little bumps to just above the top gate of Kirstenbosch. Sharp left down the paved section, left, first left. Down the stairs and first left again. Make your way back to Newlands. Yes it is that easy. total trip should be around 8,5 km with 350m of climbing. Enjoy the exploration.

Check out the link here:

leo_rust’s 0:57 h Running Move #RunningMove.

What are your favorite trail routes?

In the next few weeks I will add to this list. watch this space.