31 March & 1 April 2001
It was up early for Margaret and I on the Saturday morning and then off to Hilton to pick up Warwick and Brenda at 06h00 before proceeding to meet our other club members at Bushman’s Nek (about 160km from Hilton). Eight of us (Dave our able leader, Warwick & Brenda, Mary, Rod, Keith & Margaret and our guest Mark Brassel from KZN Wildlife assembled at 08h00 at Bushman’s Nek Office.
After paying our fees and partaking of some tea and coffee etc we were on our way to spend another great weekend in our beloved Berg. Firstly it was under the barriers at the police post and onwards to cross the Bushman’s River (quite easy this time) and not long afterwards we were crossing the Ngwangwane River. We then kept to the left hand side of the Ngwangwane river for about another 5km. It was a lovely day for walking and we had a nice break with welcome food anddrink at the beautiful pool and waterfall. The first section of this hike follows the same route as for Sehlabathebe Lodge and Tarn Cave.
After our rest and suitably sustained we were on our way again. Soon we crossed the Ngwangwane River before starting to climb in earnest to reach a saddle from where most of us had a detour to view some Bushmen’s paintings at the base of
some nearby rock overhangs. (Dave can never pass a likely place for Bushmen’s paintings). We returned to the saddle before continuing our now gentler climb and before long reached Mystery Cave (not shown on the maps) where there are many fine examples of Bushmen’s paintings. Having photographed the lovely paintings we crossed the adjacent beautiful (unnamed) stream and started some more steep climbing. Eventually the climb eased off and at about 11km from Busman’s Nek we arrived at the very long Lammergeier Cave. After a bit of a rest we spread out to made ourselves at home. A bit of exploring of the intricate rock formations in the vicinity of the cave was carried out before we settled down for a few drinks and prepared supper followed by an early night.
We were up early on the Sunday morning and after breakfast we began our steep climb towards Goat’s Cave with magnificent views in front and even better behind, as we looked over our shoulders and during our short stops to gain our breath. We soon reached the cave to find another group of hardy hikers (from Durban) just leaving the cave where they had over-nighted. Goat’s Cave (at about 2500m) is very close to the Lesotho border so we could not resist a short trip into the Mountain Kingdom before making our descent down Thomathu Ridge. A short stop for some refreshments was had at Thomathu Cave (2300m) where we met four defence force personnel using it as a temporary base camp. Then it was continuing our long descent of Thomathu Ridge before we arrived back at Bushman’s Nek camp where we found quite a contingent of defence force personnel camping close to the office block.
Welcome refreshments were enjoyed at Bushman’s Nek camp before we made our journey home. Thanks Dave for a very enjoyable and interesting weekend with a great circular route (four caves plus additional bushmen’s paintings under the overhangs in one weekend). This was good training indeed for Rod, Margaret & myself getting ready for the Otter Trail.