UMKOMAAS VALLEY HIKE
Twenty keen hikers braved the early cold to meet in Richmond from where Dave Rigby from Umko Adventures led the convoy to the starting point of Dlangana, 23 km through the Umkomaas Valley.
Having found a safe parking area for the vehicles we were soon on our way down a stony track with the prospect of seeing some of the prolific game for which the area is well known. After a detour to see a waterfall (with no water but a beautiful view down Bushbuck gorge) we began to climb, leaving the valley on our right. The day was warming up and each time we stopped for a breather warm clothes were being shed. Elevenses were enjoyed close to the top of the ridge we had been following with good views of the valley behind us and what lay ahead.
Refreshed after the break we set off on the return leg, leaving the track in favour of a well used game path heading in the right direction. As a result we overshot the track and had to do some scrambling down a rocky slope to get back onto the track. The next 3kms of steady downhills took its toll on knees and feet as we made our way back towards the starting point. The finishing point however was 4kms down a steep road leading to Umko Lodge on the Umkomaas river. Some opted to take the easy ride by bakkie while walked. Umko Lodge is situated on the banks of the river surrounded by wonderfully shaped indigenous trees of many varieties. When everyone had arrived we gathered in the thatched entertainment area which is beautifully fitted out. This is normally used by groups who do white water rafting or for conferences. There is also accommodation for 20 people in three big rondavels.
After a leisurely lunch it was time to head up the mountain to the cars. Only the ultra fit few decided to walk back up while the rest took advantage of the lifts offered in the bakkies.
After a crisp start to a warm day and wonderful views of the spectacular country it was time to head for home.
Thanks to Dave Rigby for arranging this very pleasant day much was enjoyed by all.