MHC/MBP – Caracal Cave
Maloti Drakensberg Park
Central Drakensberg
15 – 16 August 2015

Report and photos by Dave Sclanders

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]

Caracal Cave is a quite a large cave, fairly flat bottomed, and well protected , however water is a problem in the dry months. However, for those who know the reliable, well hidden water spots, this is not a problem. I had recce’d the area some weeks previously, and found 2 additional sources of “hidden” water, (see Newsletter 229), so was comfortable with the water position in the drier parts of winter.

Five of us set out from Highmoor office for a leisurely, round about – another option route to head for the old cattle kraal, and water , before dropping down into Caracal Cave, It is good to take new routes sometimes, and get away from the “well trodden” routes. The area around us had been burnt, the green grass just trying to shoot, and the hiking paths and animal paths standing out in the burnt area.

Pic 2 – 4 The “other way”, long deep valley’s, and the Giant in the distance

The old dried out, bleached spine and pelvis of a long passed Eland lay start amongst the burnt grass and surrounding earth. From the top of “Windy Knoll”, a hazy view steep valley and old Cattle Kraal facilities wound out before us.

Pic – 5 – 6

On arriving at the first water area, water was available in a rock pool at the top of a waterfall. So we stopped for lunch here, filled our water bottles, as well as our 5lt water bags which we would carry to the cave, and would have to last us until at least lunch time on Sunday as we would not pass any water again for the next 24 hours.

Pics 7 – 10 Water and lunch.

After lunch, we headed for Caracal, where we would sort out lives out, have a cup of tea, and go for a afternoon walk in an area that none of the others had been into before. From the water point, some of us took the high road to the cave, and some took the low road, and some got badly caught-up in the thick bush in the valley.

Pics - 11 , the High Road,
Pic - 12 , the Low Road.

Packing a water bottle, car keys and other valuables, we headed along the ridge in a Northerly towards ePosini and a bit further. Again a new area, and new views for the group. Deep down in the valley a great cave was seen, so on the way back, we re-routed ourselves to drop down the valley to get a closer look at this huge cave, which unfortunately on the other side of the stream. Another place to come and explore on some future exploration hike.

Pic - 13 – New cave

Then it was back to Caracal, and in the setting sun, enjoy another cup of tea, chat, and get sorted for supper and bed.

Pics - 14 – 16 Settling in

On Sunday we packed, and headed for Fulton’s Rock , hiding our heavy packs along the path, we would come back this way later and collect them. So many people “just walk”, watching the path, chatting about this and that, but not looking around them.

Pics - 17 -18 Natural Sculpturing in the rocks – Can you see ?????, or do you just see a rock???
On reaching Fulton’s Rock, some time was spent looking in detail at the Rock Art, and marveling at the incredible skill of the artist. NEVER underestimate the skill of these “passed incredible peoples”, EVERY paint stroke was DEFINITIVE, no rubbing out, no painting over, no starting again, what you did you did, FIRST TIME, and it lasted forever. With that as a benchmark, should we ask ourselves – how really great were/are our great masters of art, who took years, and numerous “over paints” to get the end product ???????.

Pics – 19 – 22 Fulton’s

On a higher rock, we had some refreshment, headed past the “BIG HOLE”, and onwards home. However, on the way one passes a very large sandstone rock, and if the sun is right, and if you have imagination, and if you are “looking positively”, you may see the shape and outline of a Cheetah, and a tired old lion etched in the crumbling rock. If you cannot see it, maybe your imagination is a bit dull, or mine was/is overactive. But, in all cases walk with fire, imagination, and enjoy, miss the moment, and you miss something you may never see again.

Pics – 23 – 26 On the way home

Our packs collected, we passed the old kraal at the bottom of the valley, endured a long hot climb to the ridge and eventually back to the vehicles.

Pics – 27 – 28 Homeward.

Highmoor is probably one of the most underrated areas for beginner hikes, also for some more solid day hikes. There is a great camping area that can be used as a base for day walks, and off course the well-known Aasvoelskranz Cave, and the not so well known used Caracal Cave. Then, there is the whole of Highmoor to walk over, being the highest area that one can drive up to, and camp in the low berg, walks offer great views of huge valleys, the high Drakensberg, rock art, and a good variety of animals. Take a GPS, set it on track, and follow the old roads to where ever they may lead. Just remember, WATCH the weather – it can change in seconds, then getting lost in the undulating low boggy wetland becomes a major problem.

There is always something to see, but so much is missed on the normal hike where the agenda is to “Get there and Get back”. Many hikers have serious agendas, but, that does not mitigate one taking the time while moving, even in pain, to grab that second to“ look and profit from Nature at that given time”. You will be better off for it !!