Happy Christmas to all our members



CHAIRMAN’S REPORT                                                                 Dave Sclanders


It’s a shocker – for those of you who had made a mental note to the effect “ That I/we must do a club hike, or go to a monthly meeting  - next time”.    Well, next time has come and gone, only 38 days to Xmas.    Where have you been this year?????


Once again our year has come and gone.    It seems the only way to get things done is to put the date in your diary, in permanent ink – and don’t change your mind.

There is so much to do, and so little time that one has to be firm and controlled.    I ask again, to give your club at least one day a year of your time, support your leaders.   Those brave and hardy souls, those magnificent people who are prepared to give up of their time for you.   Their time is not just one day a year, it is all the planning, the telephone calls, the committee meetings they attend, the dedication to plan three months ahead to MAKE time for the club.    Then nobody pitches.   Without support, no committee is prepared to carry on “Banging their heads against a losing battle”.   They are prepared to support you, you in turn should be prepared to support them.   Having said all that, we still are a growing club.   Our paid up subs are at an all time high ???  WHY???   Maybe its because they have such a good looking committee-  !!!!!!!!!!!


As many of you know, we have changed our meeting venue.   This change, your committee believes has been a positive move, as it gives us a venue where we can come early, bring a few refreshments – the club provides tea/coffee – and the ladies bring a plate of something, and there is time to meet other members of the club.   So if you have not been yet, please come and spend some time with us at a club social.


There are members of the club who have been very active hiking the Fish River Canyon. Others hiking the very hard Naujkuft, and just to prove it both trip leaders, and members of their parties have presented two slide shows at the club already.   For this we must thank Allison (leader) and Chantel Beattie for their Fish River Slide show, and Keith (leader) and Chris Dobson for the Naukluft Trail show.   Both excellent, informative and where many lessons were learnt.   The newsletter, and our club website will give you all the info for you to catch up on the past.


In my opening paragraph, I did say that some of you may have missed the boat this year in supporting your club.   Well I was not quite right . YOU –yes you –HAVE ONE MORE CHANCE TO SUPPORT YOUR CLUB.     


The CLUB’S Christmas Social  is happening on SUNDAY 3 DECEMBER at Mark and Mary’s farm in the Karkloof.   This has always been a fun day, and this promises to be better, with a much more relaxed atmosphere.   WHY – no more WAR CRIES – so the shy peeps can now come and enjoy the day.   COME AND JOIN US, CANCELL EVERTYTHING ELSE, AND SUPPORT YOUR CLUB FOR THE FINAL ACT OF 2006.   See you all at  the Christmas Do.                                                                                Dave                                                                                                                                                                                      


The Chairman , Committee members, leaders and club members welcome the following New Members to our club -  Brian Checkley;  Darshan & Radhika Dwarika;  Astrid Fraser;

Anitha Jaipal;  William (Billy) Kirkman;  Donald & Jennifer McArthur;  Gert Nel;  Jenny Owen;

Jack Rock;  Lisa Scriven.



As our Chairman has said the annual Christmas Party is scheduled for Sunday,

3 December, at “Chiarella” in the Karkloof area, the home of Mark and Mary.   Time of arrival 10h30 for 11h00.   The morning will be spent socializing followed by an early lunch commencing at 12h00.   Braai fires will be ready.   Members please bring meat, salads, rolls and drinks or whatever is your fancy, for lunch, plus table, chairs, cutlery, plates and glasses.   As a shield against the sun and hopefully not the rain those members who have gazebos and/or umbrellas these would be most welcome.   After lunch fun events will be organized between selected teams.   A further fun event for which each member is requested to bring a small gift to the value of ±R15 will follow with Santa handing out the gifts.   Please bring a small plate of cakes/biscuits to share for afternoon tea.   Prizes will be awarded for the various events.   A special this year will be the announcement of the winners of the Best Article in the Newsletter and the photographic competition.

If you are unsure of directions to the venue please contact either Mark or Mary on

082 826 2526 or 083 700 6199 or 033 330 2703.   Please advise them of your attendance.   We look forward to seeing you all there.


REPORT ON NAMIB-NAUKLUFT HIKE, NAMIBIA                        Peter ‘Peg’  Wedge

12 – 26 July, 2006

This is considered one of the Big 3 in Southern Africa and Keith Ashton had (in his usual very efficient and comprehensive way) put together the trip involving 11 stalwarts – although all travelling separately or at least in 4 different parties.   These were:


Keith and Margaret Ashton – leaving Howick on Monday 10th and away from home for 5 weeks altogether.   Chris Dobson, Margret Kirsten, Margaret Brown, Luciano Colombo & Peter Wedge - leaving Hillcrest/Pietermaritzburg/Howick on Wednesday the 12th. Chris recorded 2355 kms from Hillcrest to the Naukluft fork.   Julian Hitchcock and Stuart Dawsett - leaving Durban - somewhat earlier than Keith & Margaret and coming in from Luderitz.   Brendan McGuirk and Andrea Gutfreund - flying from Johannesburg early on Friday 14th to Windhoek and then hiring a car and driving the 3-4 hours or so to the Namib Naukluft Park the same day.   They had some difficulty with mislaid baggage but eventually made it to base by around 19h00.


All of us therefore arranging to meet at the Namib Naukluft Park at Hikers Haven on the Friday 14th.   Keith and Margaret had arrived the day previously.   Chris and team at base around 14h00 with Julian and Stuart arriving a little later.   Brendan and Andrea as mentioned around 19h00.


This was to be our introduction to the Naukluft (narrow gorge) area and our last night in a decent bed prior to the adventure so we had a party (of sorts) with a braai and plenty to drink!!   Hikers Haven has hot showers and the admin office about 1km down the hill has beers, wine etc.    Also photos of the trail including the last and major chain ascent.   A bit sobering for most of us!   Most of us then to bed by 22h00 thinking about the next 8 days to come.


After a reasonably hearty breakfast and signing of Park forms etc – all away by 08h15.  Initially in a dry river bed plenty of bird life – we saw a flock of rosy faced love birds nesting in a cliff face within the river bed.   Later we came across a recently dead hyaena in the river – no obvious cause of death but you realise how big they are close up.   They have the most powerful jaws of any predator, size for size and are of course fearsome animals at close quarters.   A fairly stiff climb followed with weather around midday quite hot.   Margret K taking some strain but recovering quickly.


On the descent to Putte shelter we spotted two klipspringers looking at our party from a nearby hill before leaping away in that peculiar bounding gait.   We got to Putte shelter – no more than that -  around 15h30.   14kms today but seemed longer.   Fire at night – quite chilly – all in sleeping bags by 19h30.



As we were now at 1700m the chilly weather was not too surprising – 2 degrees in the shelter itself so quite uncomfortable during the night.   We had some difficulty in finding the start of the trail after a quick breakfast but then some good brisk walking on the escarpment for about 5 or 6kms with some great views of the plains below us.   We had a lunch break at a big sociable weavers nest in the river bed about 2kms from our overnight stop at Ubusis hut


First of the dreaded chains now approaching after Cathedral fountain.   The latter is a long cascade of calcium carbonate deposits (or Tofa as known locally) within the very convoluted river bed.   This would be spectacular in the summer months with the river in flood.


Margaret Brown having done the hike previously knew what to expect from the chain descent but a degree of anxiety amongst the rest of us.   There are 5 altogether with 2 long descents of about 15 – 20m.   However all through safely without too much drama.   As we approached Ubusis overnight stop we saw evidence of a leopard kill in the kloof.   A lot of recent blood on the rock beneath a tree where the cat had dragged his prey.


We arrived at Ubusis very late around 17h00 so not a lot of time to socialise after a quick evening meal.    The overnight hut was once a holiday cottage – there is a 4-wheel drive track to the hut – however the showers were not working and one of the 2 toilets was blocked.   The river water was however surprisingly warm – almost tepid – so an opportunity for a wash of sorts.   We also had beds and mattresses so a good nights sleep. 


Andrea now not feeling well with a heavy cold and flu having developed over the last 24 hours.   All in bed early again, some thinking about the ascent of the chains the following day!   Ubusis Hut is on a sort of dogleg off the circuitous route so you have to face the chains twice!


All off early today by 07h30 and at the first chain by 09h00.  All of us through by 10h00 so not bad going but all glad to have it over with!


We were out of the kloof including the ascent of Cathedral Fountain by 10h30 (the ladies taking a quick dip and the younger guys mooning).   Klipspringer seen on the horizon.   These are incredibly delicate and acrobatic animals -also we were quite lucky to see them as they are normally shy and secretive.


We arrived at our next overnight shelter Alderhorst by 14h00 so this was great with plenty of time to relax and have a fire!   Brendan, Stuart and Andrea off to collect wood – they came across a leopards’ lair with parts of a zebra and also hyaena droppings.


Nice social evening around the fire with all of us discovering a bit more about each other.   First reading by Brendan of “Spud” when we were all in bed.   This is an account of a “students” life at Michaelhouse quite wickedly funny.   12kms only today

(To be continued in the January Newsletter ….  )


FERNCLIFFE                                                                                                                  Erica Adie

27 August 2006

On a lovely fresh spring morning six of us, under the leadership of Selvyn, set off to explore Ferncliffe Nature Reserve.  We moved carefully through the mist belt forest as the going was soft and fairly slippery after the recent rains, Selvyn pointing out interesting plant life as we moved along.


A steady climb brought us out at Breakfast Rock from where we enjoyed a magnificent view of Pietermaritzburg and far away distant country.


On our return route we passed Bat Cave, and as we peered down into the deep black hole, deciding very definitely NOT to go down there, we saw moving lights, and heard the cheerful voices of two young women from the university who were doing research on the bats in the cave.  When they emerged they carried bags with specimen bats, two types which they showed us and told us about.   Who would have thought those little creatures would be so interesting?


We moved along, up and down and climbing over rocks until we heard running water, and we came to a lovely waterfall, cool and refreshing.

When we arrived back at the car park we examined the ancient cottage of Jesse Smith, a lovely tranquil spot, and Selvyn told us something of the history of the place and the original people who lived there.   We were all home in time for a late, well-earned Sunday lunch.


UMGENI VALLEY NATURE RESERVE                                       Yvonne Engelbrecht

10 September 2006

Just a stones throw away from the hustle and bustle of Howick centre you are able to relax and enjoy an amble through this Nature Reserve.   For me it was a first time.   I had no idea that there was a Nature Reserve so close to home.


I awoke to a beautiful Sunday morning, fetched my friend and off we drove to Howick and then with the given directions arrived at our destination to meet the other hikers out to explore and enjoy the beauty of a Valley that starts at Howick Falls following the Umgeni River, thus the Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve.


We were introduced to all present, Erica, Martin, Peter, Gerhard, Linda, Jeff, Margaret, Lyn and Jean (visitor), paid fees, a quick visit to the loo and then set off for a day walk with Margaret as our leader.   Due to the heat Margaret decided it best to stick to the trail on the upper section of the valley as to hike down in the valley would be too hot.


Our starting point was from the car park where we made our way towards the Cascades Falls and then followed the path adjacent to the road until we reached the Saddle which is the start of the Inkonka and Black Eagle Trail.  The trail allowed us to walk at a relaxed pace, chat and share memories and ideas with one another.    This path brought us out at the Indulo Car Park where we were able to cool off, splash our faces with water and fill our water containers.   From here we hit the escarpment until we reached our lunchtime destination - a huge rock, a table and benches and a big shady tree, with a most spectacular view.   Here we all unpacked our special little treats and snacks  brought for lunch and had a feast while appreciating the beauty of God’s Creation.


They say there are 270 bird species to be found in Umgeni Valley, 20 or more types of mammals, as well as many butterflies and reptiles.   For tree lovers there are a variety of species available.   On our walk we came across Burchell Zebra, Blue Wildebeest, buck and some of us were lucky enough to spot a Giraffe.   A yellow butterfly joined us for lunch.


The walk back kept close to the road to Inkonka Car Park where some of us walked down to join the trail at The Saddle and others kept to the road back to camp.   Due to the heat and as a means of cooling off Gerhard and I decided to have a swim at Cascades Falls before heading back to camp and our vehicles.   So guess who had a swim with all her clothes on?   Life sure is great when you are having fun and enjoying nature!    Umgeni Valley, I will be back to tackle another trail and to tell another tale.


A pamphlet with map is available at reservations, as there is plenty on offer at Umgeni including Environmental Education for people of all ages.  Accommodation ranging from 10 chalets, 3 cottages, dormitories and 4 bush camps is available.   There are 6 walking trails, and swimming spots are indicated on the map.   So if you want to take a break or to get away for a day or two, don’t drive for kilometers when you have a beautiful valley right on your doorstep.


On a recent trip which included a visit to the western Cape, we dropped in at Pater Nosta which has grown somewhat since a last visit many years ago and then on to Cape Columbine where we sussed out the camp sites located amidst  huge sea rocks next to the ocean, on reasonably well grassed sites.   Although there are no electrical points on sites, the ablution blocks which are well maintained boast hot water, as well as all the necessary facilities like basins, toilets and showers and electric plug points.   The views are splendid and at the time of the visit all the flowers were out which added to the beauty of the scene.

Unfortunately there was no one on hand to provide written details but as I remember the costs pasted up on the window of the office were very reasonable.


January Newsletter the continuation of the write-up on Naukluft Trail together with Mboyti and the cottage week-ends.   Plenty of interesting reading from our members.