MHC - Highmoor
Tenting with Day Walks
Highmoor Nature Reserve
Central Drakensberg
10 – 11 October 2015

Report and photos by Dave Sclanders

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Highmoor Nature Reserve has a very comfortable and protected camping site. It also has numerous easy day walks for those willing to go off the beaten track. Also, being on the top of the low berg, it has fantastic view opportunities for those who like to go to the edge of the cliffs, and look down into numerous spectacular, steep, rugged and craggy cliff sides dotted with numerous bird roosting sites. It is a quiet, lonely and invigorating place to visit. Don’t be fooled by the easy looking interior plateau area, it is a mass of twisting undulating, stream strewn boggy vlei areas. Not a good place to be in bad weather.

To give all club hikers a chance to spend some time in the mountain on this week end, there were three options offered, come and walk on Saturday, or walk on Sunday, or bring a tent and camp at the campsite and do both hikes.

On Saturday morning, 6 of us met at Highmoor, 4 for camping, and 2 for the day walk which was to ka-Dedakushe Falls, and then on to an old abandon field rangers outpost. The area was dotted with numerous groups of Blesbok.The wild flowers were starting to pop up looking for some more rain, however the hardier Everlastings were well and truly out in their numbers. A short rest at the old Wilderness plaque before the long downhill hike to the falls where lunch was enjoyed at the top of the falls, and much to our amazement a number of blue Scilla natalensis were happily growing and flowering on the vertical cliff edge of the falls. From lunch we moved on to inspect the old field rangers outpost.

Pics 3 – 10 on the way to the falls.
Pics – 11 – 15 lunch at the falls
Pic 14 - Scilla amongst the Rocks
Pic – 16 – 17 - The old Outpost

Our walk home was now a bit of a mission, as a very strong wind had started blowing, and making the walking rather unpleasant. Dave, walking in the front came across a rather large Rinkaals – Cobra, which did the normal cobra trick of playing “sort of dead” and did not move while we took a photo opportunity.

Pic 18 – 19 - Watch out for “Cobra Crossing”

Back at the camp site, Neville and Carolee , took their leave from us and headed home, while we set up our tents, and enjoyed an evening under the stars

Pic - 20 Hard life in camp.

Sunday morning broke clear and cool, and we were joined by Libby and Merle. This time we headed for the top of Cleopatra, a rather easy stroll with a few minor ups and downs. As the grass had not been burnt in this area, the paths were harder to find as no hikers walk here, and unfortunately it seemed as though very few animals still inhabited this region. The long dry grass did force us to pick our feet up a bit higher than usual. However, the rewards were plentiful once we reached the top of the Cleopatra cliffs. Straight drops down to the farming valley below gave us views for as far as one could see. By now the tummy bugs were grumbling, so a rest and snack break was taken amongst some large boulders.

Boulders will be boulders, numerous shapes and figures could be made out if one used enough imagination. The tops of some of the massive rock outcrops had been eroded into numerous small pools, although dry now, this area would certainly be worth a visit in the rainy season.

Pics 21 – 29 To Cleopatra

We took a different route home, one that traversed the very edge of the cliffs, the views were again incredible, however there was the odd steep bit to climb, and the odd large vlei area to cross, all adding to the variety of the day.

Lunch was taken on the top of a cliff top that sort of projected into a large valley running across the front of us. Sitting on this high point, we could look down the valley to out left, or right up the valley to our right. A great place for a lunch break.

Pic 30 – 34

Back at camp we had a wash and changed into “sweat free clothes” and headed for home.

For those who may not know, the Cleopatra Face – A very high, vertical rock cliff face that had and image of Cleopatra sculptured by wind , water and the elements into it, collapsed some years ago, so if you go looking for her – you may look a long time and still not find her. However, with her collapse, Antony who was shadowed by her has now come into the light. But, you have to be in a very precise spot to see him. Good Luck

Pic – 35 – Antony ?????????

The rains have not yet come, the berg is still dry. Watch out for veld fires until the rains have set in. When the rains do come, treat every stream or river as a very dangerous hazard, don’t be tempted to be brave and take a chance to cross. Wait, and a safe crossing time will come .