By Dave Sclanders
The original plan was for a 7 day contour hike along the 2300meter contour level path from Lotheni to Cathedral Peak. However due to unforeseen circumstances we were reduced to 3 members at the last moment, so the hike was cut to 3 days to cover the area from Giants camp to the old Giants hut via Oribi Ridge, then along the contour path to Bannerman’s hut, and then back to Giants camp.
On the 6th of April Teresa , Hettie and I set off from Giants camp in fairly good weather for Giants hut. Fortunately the day was sunny , with clouds cooling the temperature. Oribi Ridge leads you along the crest of a long set of ridge tops. The views are great as you hike in the direction of the high berg, so in front of you is Giants Castle buttress, and on either side steepish slopes that run down to the rivers on either side of you. On the way we passed a small tarn still with water, and lunched at the old Vulture Restaurant/hide . This was the first vulture feeding place built in the berg many years ago.
On reaching the old hut , ( Giants hut was burnt down years ago, and it seems that it will never be fixed up again) with thunder and rain threatening we soon set up our tents, much to Teresa’s delight as she was looking forward to spending her first night in her brand new “One Woman Tent” Tea was had in our tents as a rain squall had blown up, we managed to cook supper next to the hut, and then ducked back into our tents as the rain came again. A long night in the tents , from 17h30 to 07h00 next morning
The morning broke with mist and cloud , but with a hint of a promise that the sun would come out and clear the views for us. No such luck, and we left Giants hut in thick misty conditions.
The walk from Giants hut to Bannerman Hut is just on 20 k’s, along the old man made contour path of years gone by. Now the only feet that traverse this path are the Eland. Hikers no longer hike this path, especially from the bottom of Giants Pass to Langabilele junction. So one needs to have a feel for the Eland, and sense with your feet where the path should go – especially as in our case , the mist was very thick, with very limited visibility. On a good clear day, the views that one can see as you traverse the path a really stunning. The high berg right on your lefthand side, and the long valleys of the lower berg streaming off to your right hand side. We had a quick lunch alongside the Langalibalele stream – cold and wet damp conditions were not conducive to a longer lunch break.
By the time we reached Bannerman’s we were thoroughly soaked, and cold. Hot tea and soup warmed us up to start to prepare for supper. Even though the hut is very sparsely furnished, cooking and sleeping in a dry environment was greatly welcomed. Bannerman’s is a great place to get up early to watch the sunrise. This morning was no different – a great, great sunrise. After breakfast it was decided to head straight back to Giants Camp for lunch, and an early trip back home. Both Teresa and Hettie had other hikes planned for the next few days and were keen to go home to repack for these next trips.
This is trip is now one of the old 3 day favorite routes which will no longer be done because now hikers must carry tents to overnight in the berg. Another great area of the berg that will keep its grand scenery to itself because Giants hut was burnt down , and will probably never be rebuilt again.