Midlands Hiking Club
Highmoor Tenting Week end
Central Berg
26 – 27 March 2011

Pictures and story by Dave Sclanders

The Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife area of Highmoor Nature Reserve is a great place to hike for those looking for an easy few days of hiking. The area is relatively flat, and one has wide arc views of the southern and Central High Berg. The camping area is very nicely surrounded by trees and shrubs, and the ablution facilities are reasonable for the number of campsites available We stayed at the campsites and did a walk on Saturday – the weather was good , despite the heavy rainfall prediction for the day. That night in the campsite we had just got into our tents when the rains came. Then on Sunday we walked to a different area, again with good weather , but with the constant reminder by the heavy clouds that we could get rain at any time. On the way out on Saturday we were very lucky to see a pair of endangered ORIBI antelope at close range. These shy liitle animals are not often seen on a hike.

Resting on a high ridge, we looked out over the many great valleys of The Giants Castle reserve. From there we turned and headed in a new direction to head for our lunch venue. By now some of the hikers had run out of water, so we found a small stream bubbling out of the long grass and filled water bottles with clear cold water.

At this time of year the Conservation forces start to prepare the grasslands for the annual winter fires that come every year. They now start their tracer lines , where they burn two strips of grass about a meter wide some 100 meters apart with chemical agents , then later the area between the strips is burnt to create a wide “fire break”. Snaking across the green grass were two brown strips of “tracer lines. Along part of the path heading home , the hikers crossed a part of the fire line

On the way back to the camp we stopped at a rather attractive waterfall, then one of the trout dams on the reserve , and just before camp three of our party that had done a morning walk cooling their feet in the stream.

Back at camp, the hikers gathered around to talk about the day whilst they waited for their turn to shower and get cleaned up. Later the groups broke to their tents to get the business of supper sorted out.

On Sunday morning we were joined by a number of new hikers who had come to hike just for the day. The weather looked as if it could rain at any time, so we decided to do a walk on the high ground where we could turn around at any time to get home.

The area we hiked in gives great views of the deep valleys of Highmoor. Highmoor itself is on a high plateau, with deep valleys all around it . From the top of the steep cliff faces onr gets superb views over a wide area of the Midlands of Kwa Zulu-Natal.

In the formation of the mountains , incredibly beautiful rock pools were formed in the basic sandstone in the area. These pools only have water in them during the rainy season, then dry up in the winter months. However some water loving plants do leave seeds behind that will germinate in the next wet season

Lunch was enjoyed sitting on a large rock that afforded wonderful views of the valleys of Kamberg. On our left, the “Hedgehog” waited for us to move off so that he could investigate whether we had kleft any morsels of food for him.

At this time of the year the wild Cosmos flowers come out to herald the start of the Autumn, they are always worth a stop to have a closer look . Sadly these flowers seem to be getting less and less in our grasslands. I remember many years ago one could see vast areas of grasslands filled with these brightly attractive flowers.

Thanks to my hiking companions for sharing another magic moment in the arms of Mother Nature.