Kloofing is an extreme sport that involves following a watercourse through the mountains; scrambling or abseiling down small cliffs and waterfalls, and, sometimes, compulsory swims through deep pools. You must be fit and well prepared and novice hikers should attempt it only in the company of a qualified guide or on an organised trip.
Riviersonderend and Suicide gorges
There are many kloofs to explore in the Western Cape, but those in Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve are the best known and most accessible. Beginners should start with the beautiful Riviersonderend Gorge Trail, a seven-hour route which starts just off the main Boland Hiking Trail. There are no abseils and the highest compulsory jump is a mere seven metres (although that’s pretty high when you haven’t done it before).
The neighbouring Suicide Gorge is for the more experienced and courageous. It starts with a two-hour hike high into the mountains and an optional waterfall slide. Then it’s a steep downhill with plenty of jumps (the highest is 14 metres) and swims – allow about nine hours. If you really want a challenge, go down Suicide and back up Riviersonderend Gorge, which you can do in about 12 hours.
The kloofs are open between 1 November and 30 April and you must check the conditions before setting out; you don’t want to be hit by a flash flood or freak storm. Permits are issued by CapeNature (R160 or R120 if you have a Wild Card), tel 021-483-0190, www.capenature.co.za. Sign up for a guided trip with Venture Forth International (costs R800 a person, including lunch) tel 021-554-3225, www.ventureforth.co.za. Also try Frixion Adventures (R700 a person, including lunch) tel 021-785-2517, www.frixionadventures.co.za.
The popular six-hour adventure in Grootkloof is a fairly taxing journey that involves waterfall abseils as well as some fun bum slides, compulsory two-metre jumps and swims.
The day starts with an easy hike up the open slopes of the dramatic Magaliesberg range, followed by a scramble into the kloof. There’s plenty of opportunity to check your abseiling technique before you reach a 20-metre waterfall abseil a third of the way down. This is the point of no return, but there’s nothing too scary for the rest of the day. Individual access is allowed only for members of the Mountain Club of South Africa. Join a guided trip such as those offered by Mountain Guide (costs from R650 a person for a group of four or more, including lunch), cell 082-652-1490, www.mountainguide.co.za.
This moderately strenuous kloofing trip down the Injasuti Valley, in the foothills of the Drakensberg, is offered as a half- or full-day adventure. Start with a stiff walk, followed by some fun scrambling, boulder-hopping and five to 25-metre abseils, some down trickling waterfalls. Four Rivers Rafting offers guided kloofing (costs R460 a person, including transport from Four Rivers and lunch, or R415 without transport), tel 036-468-1693, www.fourriversadventures.co.za.
Photo by Jackie Fourie.