Report and photos by Keith Ashton

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

On a lovely Sunday morning, we all assembled in vehicles just past Amberglen on Karkloof Road by 08h00 & after completing formalities inc. signing the hike register, I led the convoy to Everdon Estates security gate where Cecil met us. Soon we were all through the gate & on our way to our parking spot near the large Dam.

As this is always a popular hike we had 27 participants including Cecil who is Manager of Production at Everdon Estates & his assistant Amanda - the rest of our group included Debbi, Astrid, Veronica, Rose, Inge, John, Neville, Tanya, Michael, Peter W, Daryll, Amy, Julia, Heather, Serge, Sue, Peter C, Dennis, Stella, Harry, Jenny, Chris D, Chris B, Margaret & Keith.

The hike started from the dam uphill along a farm track before more climbing up a lovely grass slope where we soon saw warthog & zebra. We had a large happy group & the weather was perfect for our easy pace without too much early heavy breathing which allowed the participants to chat & get to know each other. After more climbing, bodies were warming up quickly & it was time to strip off during a break & to admire the beautiful scenery all around us. Cecil has spent about 30 years at Everdon so knows virtually every nook & cranny of this very large avocado plantation & cattle grazing area & it was easy for him to point out all the hills, mountains & places of interest surrounding this lovely venue.

After about 8 km we had a break for drinks & snacks at a lovely rock on the escarpment looking down into the Karkloof River Valley far below with magnificent views of Karkloof Falls in the distance as well as a panoramic view towards Albert Falls Dam.

1. On our way - Avo plantations in the distance
2. All looking happy - John, Stella, Rose, Chris & Peter in foreground.
3. Re-assembling - Cecil, Production Manager & Assistant Amanda in foreground
4. A gradual climb, warming up as Julia strips off
5. Cecil pointing out various places of interest -Amanda in foreground
6. Lovely spot for a break & snacks - Albert Falls Dam in the distance

After the break was a serious uphill with plenty of heavy breathing & not much chatter, but then it was steeply down with good views of Karkloof Spa - this is a marvellous reserve with luxury accommodation & all you would expect (and more) including indoor & outdoor swimming pools, Jacuzzis, wet rooms with sprays from every angle & dry rooms with sauna - game drives are included & several Thai Masseuses & there to pamper & rejuvenate you - Pity is, very few can afford this luxury.

Then it was downhill again & through some lovely indigenous bush which included bush tunnels, a bit like an obstacle course. We eventually reached the promontory looking down to where the Karkloof River joins the Umgeni River as it makes its way towards Albert Falls Dam. Next we made our way to Cecil's lovely rustic but comfortable home made "Shack" where we enjoyed a relaxed lunch in beautiful surroundings - Karkloof Falls can be clearly seen from the shack veranda.

After a good break & lunch we continued on our way back to the start of the hike at the dam, passing a herd of cattle which included a lone zebra which thought it was a cow.

For information we did 13 km & climbed over 350 metres.

Many thanks to Cecil for giving up his precious time to lead this outstanding hike & to Amanda his assistant who is learning the routes & to all our participants for your company & friendship.

7. After a stiff climb, its downhill again - Michael & Tanya in foreground
8. Still going steeply down
9. What goes down must go up again
10. Cecil's comfortable shack - beautiful view of Karkloof falls can be seen from veranda
11. More of our group near the shack having lunch - Chris looking content
12. Last section of hike with loaded avo plantation