MHC – Sinclair’s Cave
Via Kamberg
Kamberg Nature Reserve
Central Drakensberg
World Heritage Site
15 – 16 October 2016

Report and photos by Dave Sclanders.

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

Having to cancel our September week end hike at Injisuthi due to bad weather forecast ( and it was a good call –a really miserable wet week end was experienced), , we watched the weather forecast with some trepidation as the week was wet, but – Saturday /Sunday looked good. ) Of the original 9 who put their names down , 4 of us eventually arrived at Kamberg.

Sinclair’s is one of the closer caves in the berg, with plenty of good scenery, and some steep cliff climbing to do. Yet, once up on the plateau, it is an easy walk to the cave.

With Giant’s Castle showing some snow on the southern side, Gladstone’s Nose clear to our east, and the river valley we started our hike along nice andsparkling, it was a great day to be in the mountains again.

Pics - 2 – The Strong Ones
Pic -3 - Giants Castle
Pic – 4 – Gladstone’s Nose
Pic – 5 - Green mountain stream valley

We rested at the bottom of our major climb obstacle, took on some water and some energy food, and surveyed our immediate future. Only a few scattered animal tracks, quite a lot of erosion, some very steep slopes with good falls for the ones who did not take care. So, as sitting did not get the legs moving or the sweat glands going, it was time to ”fire up our internal combustion engines “ and move on up in life. With care, slow steps, and frequent stops to look back down on where we had come from, we headed for the high plateau above us. The views were great, the river was shrinking, but the top was not being reached that easy. A half way rest, then push onwards and upwards to the plateau.

Pics 6 – 11. The Climb

On the plateau, we passed a shed Cobra skin, and a group of 4 very skittish eland who ran away from us at top speed. The winter fire break was green and glistening against the dry veld of the mountain.

Pics 12 – 14 Along the way

Lunch was enjoyed on a top of a hill looking down into a very dry stream bed. It was a bad omen for us, as the stream that we relied on water for at the cave might also be dry ????

Setting off again, we reached the crest of our climb at 2234 meters altitude, then it was downhill all the way to the cave. Katy who was suffering from a stomach problem put a brave face, and had to keep plodding, despite the temperature of the sun being very high indeed.

From around the corner we could see Sinclair’s Mountain, and a while later – 45 minutes later, we were at the cave. Fortunately the water was falling over the rock face above us into the pool at the foot of the cave. Some tea to get some liquid in, a few more bites on our energy bars, beds sorted, and there was time to go for an inspection of the area.

Pics - 15 – 19 cave area

As the cave is at the foot of the mountain, we had a small climb to the top to enjoy the views of the area. First to come our way, was Porcupine Rock, then Centurion Rock, down the valley - Centurion Sandal Rock. Across the valley was the well known “Dagga Smugglers Cave” – however it seemed not to have been used for some time. Then around the corner, some wonderful views from the high footpath across the hills and down into the valley below.

Pics - 20 – 25 Afternoon Inspection time

On the way back, we stopped at my favorite watering place in the berg. A small spring pops out of the mountain high up on the slope, runs a few meters, then goes underground and is gone. The clearest, freshest coolest water one can get.

Pics 26 – 27 - Water hole .

On the way back to the cave, the wind picked up, rain clouds gathered over Lotheni, and the first few drops of rain spat at us. Back at the cave, it was cold and very windy. Kate was determined to have a bath, so around the corner was a place where the stream bed had been opened up for such a matter. She went off, and came back later, colder, windier, but cleaner, so she said !!! As Sunday afternoon was forecast for some rain, we were up early, packed and ready to roll. There were things to see, and new places to visit on our way back.

Pick - 28 – Kevin , ready to roll .

This was a nostalgic moment for me, as I had started the route from Kamberg many , many years ago, and it now seemed that this might be my last trip back here. Many people have had very exciting memories, and experiences from this cave. (see Newsletter 36)

On a lovely morning, the flowers were out, the berg was just a tad too far away to touch. In the far distance the emerald green of the fire break stretch to Sheba’s Breasts, with the high Drakensberg massive in the background.

Pics - 29 – 35.

We had dropped back to a lower plateau that was dry and thick with old grass. It was as if we had been transported to another world. Surely no animal would want to eat this stuff ????

Pic – 36 – Where are we.??

At the end of the plateau, was a big valley, so we dropped our packs, and dropped down towards the river to see some rock art . It was steep, it was slopey, and a good fall into the river if a bad stepping was made. Once we had looked, it was a climb back up to our packs, and head off in another direction to more rock art.

Pics - 37 – 46 Our Vanishing Rock art.

Down to the old, lost, meandering path along the stream bed on our way out. Fewer animals in the area means that the paths are not being kept open. Thick, prickly and sometimes attractive grasses hide the paths, the rocks and the holes in the path. Navigating can be tricky, however with a bit of care we reached our appointed exit on the stream where we had started yesterday morning. A rest, a jug of cool clear water to refill our sapped liquid component in our bodies, and it was “head down to get to our car some 4 kilometers away.

Pic - 51- Cheers

Thanks to my hiking companions for sharing this week end with us. For 2 of you, it was your first time to this cave. I trust you enjoyed it .
The weather has been very unpredictable this spring/summer. It is a good idea to watch the weather forecast for the area you plan to hike in for the week before you go, if it looks bad, think carefully. Make sure your team is well equipped for rain or shine. Pack all your gear in a good strong plastic bag – it is not fun sleeping in a wet sleeping bag. If flash floods occur above you, be careful on river crossings may have to do later in the week end. If you are tenting and a storm is brewing, tent on the side of the river in which you can get out of the mountain on. Trying to cross a raging stream is not clever. Be very aware, the first really heavy storms that cause streams to rise and rush, will also carry a lot of debri. Don’t get caught in it.