By Melanie Esterhuyse
WHEN LIFE THROWS YOU A CURVE BALL, SOMETIMES ALL YOU NEED IS TO TAKE A WEEKEND GETAWAY OF OUTDOOR ADVENTURE TO A BEAUTIFUL PLACE – HEX RIVER VALLEY!
The Hex River Valley serves as a gateway between the Cape Winelands and the Great Karoo, anbeautiful transition zone of fauna and flora. Vineyards stretch across the valley floor as far as the eye can see, and during autumn it turns from a uniform green into a kaleidoscope of colours, surrounded by majestic mountains.
Conveniently situated 90 minutes from Cape Town, renowned for its natural beauty, and a myriad of outdoor activities De Doorns is now becoming a holiday destination in its own right. With a variety of campsites, hiking and biking trails, each route is a unique experience as it explores different areas of the valley – from lush green fynbos to hardy karoo succulents.
Whether you’re a dreamy drifter, keen trail runner, or skilled mountaineer ready to take on a new challenge, the scenic Hex River Valley serves it all up.
The Hex Trails
At the foot of the Hex River Mountain, the working farm Klipheuwel hosts some of the most adventurous and scenic hiking trails.
The Hex Trails consist of five routes varying in distance and elevation. Here visitors can choose to undertake a family and pet friendly stroll along the River or Cattle trail, or for more experienced/extreme hikers the Baboon trail will test your endurance to the full as this is the most challenging route of all.
At Klipheuwel Guest Farm you have the option to camp out under the stars or be accommodated in one of their self-catering units. For bookings and more details on route options, visit www.klipheuwel.co.za.
Camping, kloofing & hiking at Ruah
Situated 6km outside De Doorns, nestled in the base of Elskloof and met by the Sand River, this campsite is a hidden and well-preserved historical gem that once was home to the first generator implemented by the Dicey Bros. Remnants of the Khoisan people are also still visible here.
Ruah consists of six campsites, ablution facilities, a clearly marked hiking trail and rock pools. Camping, kloofing, exploring and relaxing is what you do best when visiting Ruah Camping. Unfortunately, no day visitors are allowed. Only campers have access to this route.
Elevation gain: 660m
Distance: 1 000m
Bookings: Ruah Camping (nightsbridge.com)
San art and rock pool at Ruah Campsite
Explore the Hexpas
After diamonds were discovered in the north, the Hexpas railway line was built in the 1870s to connect Cape Town and Kimberley. The line climbs to the karoo plains at a steep 1:40 gradient and its cutting is claimed to be the deepest and longest hand-dug cutting in South Africa. During the 1980s this railway line was decommissioned and became home to the much-loved Hexpas Express from 2002 to 2015.
The Hexpas Rail Route, however, is still home to numerous hiking and biking routes. While strolling or jogging along the railway line, you can either explore the circular route around Osplaasdam, or stay on track all the way up to Tunnel Station or the Kaffrarian Rifle Monument. Permits and refreshments can be obtained at the Veldskoen Farm Stall.
Recommended time frame: March to May; August to October
Elevation gain: 639m (Osplaasdam Route); 692m (Tunnel Station); 711m (Kaffrarian Rifle Monument )
Distance: 5.5km (Osplaasdam Route); 11km (Tunnel Station); 13km (Kaffrarian Rifle Monument)
Rim of Africa
Rim of Africa, Traverse of the Cape Mountain, is home to a variety of hiking trails. The Hex River Complex was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO during 2015.
The Hex River Mountain range hosts Thomas Hut and the renowned TRAVERSE 4, one the most challenging and breathtaking trails on the route. Only experienced hikers (Registered MCSA Members) have access to these routes on guided hikes. For more details, visit www.mcsaworcester.org.za and www.rimofafrica.co.za.
Roam the Matroosberg
Ahoy! Ever wondered where the name of the Matroosberg derives from? Well, when travelling northeast from De Doorns and looking up the Hex River Mountain, you’ll spot a rock formation outlining the shape of a sailor standing on his boat.
So, if you’re a skilled mountaineer take a hike up the unmarked Matroosberg Route and visit this site. Overlooking the Hex, you’ll enjoy epic views while gazing across the lush greenery of the valley and Groothoek Kloof.
Elevation gain: 1 700m
For guided or solo hikes along this terrain, contact local mountaineer, Retief Jordaan (T: +27(0) 23 356 2226, E: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Gear/saddle up for Middelberg
On the outskirts of the Hex River Valley, along the R318 en-route to Montagu, visitors can also pay a visit to Ezelsjacht and Middelberg Guest Farm. Both these estates are situated on a karoo plateau(also known as the ‘Agterveld’) between the neighboring towns of De Doorns and Touwsrivier.
Here romantic weekends under starry skies entails roaming on horseback, mountain biking or trail running. For the adventurous, sprint rallies are also hosted by Ezelsjacht annually. Varying in elevation and distance, Middelberg is home to five biking and hiking routes – from family-friendly to extreme.
To combine your Hex Valley Walkabout with a picnic, enjoy a scrumptious breakfast, light snacks or a hearty meal with traditional fare and flare in a relaxed atmosphere, head to Veldskoen Farm Stall or Hexvallei Ledeklub.
Contact Hex Valley Tourism Association for more details: +27(0) 73 238 2026 | email@example.com.
Did you know?Hex River Valley a logistical funnel for South Africa’s main road and rail traffic.