Sinclair’s Cave
Central Drakensberg
23 – 24 February 2013

Report & Photos courtesy of Dave Sclanders

( This hike was advertised as a First Time Hikers hike )

The cave has limited “dry sleeping space”, so it was first come first in”, the rest would have to bring tents with them. We planned to meet at Kamberg Wildlife Office at 08h30, book in and leave by 0h900. The weather promised to be warm in the morning, with maybe some rain in the afternoon, so an early arrival at the cave was planned. It is very important to take the changes of Nature and the weather into consideration in ones planning, and to work accordingly. Arriving a bit late, and still having to pack all into the backpacks, is not a good idea, because if you have left something at home – there is no time to fetch it. Serious consequences can be the result of a “Forgotten Item”.

We finally left a bit later than planned minus a pair of boots, and headed uphill to our final altitude high above us. There are a few steep climbs on the way, and these are taken gently with a number of rest stops to catch ones breath, as well as to view from where one has come from.

Pic 2 Getting ready
Pic 3 Shelter Cave with the Famous Rock Art paintings high up on the right cliff face
Pic 4 Many waterfalls in the valleys
Pic 5 Highmoor Nature reserve on the high plateau across the valley
Pic 6 Beautiful clean , cool , fresh water
Pic 7 Water stop, and an energy bar break to build up for the stiff climb ahead.

One of the facts of hiking in the berg, is that sooner or later you will have to climb, some climbs are easier than others, some have paths, some don’t. We had a steep climb without paths, just following old eland tracks across the mountain side. Loose stones and looking for a good foothold up a steep slope does not give one a chance to look around and enjoy the scenery, so one needs to take several breaks to enjoy ones achievements of the moment.

Pic 8 Steep and broken ground
Pic 9 Then onwards up the grassy slope
Pic 10 Halfway up and feeling strong
Pic 11 The rest of the party reach the midway stage
Pic 12 Then onwards and upwards to the top
Pic 12 A Lunch at last

As we had left a little later than planned we walked for longer than usual in the heat of the day. When we finally reached the cave some of the party ere only too happy to drop their packs, lay out the sleeping bags, and have a good rest before anything else. A few were ready for a short exploration hike after a good cup of tea and biscuits. Our exploration time was cut short by the expected change in weather, rain had been forecast for the late afternoon.

Pic 13 the CRASHERS
Pic 14 , 15 the EXPLORERS

A thick mist settled in , sending the tenters into their tent. The cavers were soon wrapped up and ready for an early night, while one cave felt that as he was tired and wanted to “sleep like a rock” , what better place than to sleep on a rock !!!!

Pic 16 Tenters in the mist
Pic 17 Getting warmed up for the night
Pic 18 - Sleep like a rock

One of the problems with hiking at Kamberg is that the area is prone to heavy mist, that can last for many hours. Unless one knows the area well, you could end up with a bit of a problem in getting out. The paths are game tracks, and not shown on the maps. We awoke with a heavy, low thick wet mist not the ideal hiking weather, and set off for home . Fortunately by mid morning it had lifted , and hiking became more pleasant – but due to the wet grass from the mist, wet boots were the order of the day.

Pics 19 , 20 , 21 Hikers in the mist

The clearing mist brought back better visibility , and we could now see the waterfalls, and Sandstone Cliffs of the area. It also made finding our way down from the high plateau a bit easier as we again followed an indistinct game track down the mountain side.

Pic 22 waterfalls
Pic 23 Sandstone cliffs
Pic 24 What went up , must come down

Along the way, some Rock Art

Pic 25/26 Rock art

“Old Grumpy” looked down on us from his tower of rocks, we had seen two Rhey Buck grazing just behind him

Pic 27 “Old Grumpy”

We were now down in the valley, below us a good strong river rushed down the valley bottom It was time for lunch – a late one at that , then the final drop down to the cars.

Pic 28/29 hiking along the valley bottom
Pic 30 Lunch on the rocks
Pic 31 The last long downhill towards the cars, and home

I am sure at least one of our group was very glad to get back to the car. Hiking in soft shoes is not a pleasant experience, thankfully, there were no feet problems. So often a hike is spoiled due to the wrong foot ware.

My thanks to my hiking companions for a great week end.