Hike Leader: Dave Sclanders

Report and photos by Penny Purchase

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

We met on a frosty July morning at 7.15 a.m. at the re-cycling depot close to Pick n Pay in Howick. Dave Sclanders, mountain guru, tourist guide and Bushman painting expert, was our leader. We travelled in 2 cars to Kamberg, the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve, 85 kms from Howick. Our aim was to hike up to little known caves in the Kamberg reserve with well preserved Bushman paintings. There were 7 of us : Carol and Dave Brummage, visitors and prospective members (they were trying us out!), Sas Armstrong and her friend, Tessa, Cheryl Brown, Dave Sclanders and myself.

The reserve was as neat as a pin and after loo breaks at their toilet, we started the hike. The grass was yellow and short or burnt short. It turned out to be a beautiful, warm winter day with a clear blue sky. We all got burnt by the sun  contrary to Dave s dire warnings and the weather prediction of extreme cold! Beanies off and hats on.

We followed the river and climbed up and climbed up. Dave is an honorary ranger at Kamberg and pointed out various features of the reserve. Some of the protea bushes were battling to survive due to constant winter burning. We saw grey rhebok and eland on the far hills, just as the Bushman people had seen all those years ago. It s a timeless area. Dave also told us heart-warming stories of abused English teenagers, who he d taken on this hike, and how it had turned their lives around & .. hiking in the berg weaving its magic on these mistreated kids.

The first 3 caves we explored were Willem 1, 2 and 3. We stood in awe of the Bushman paintings. Dave explained the animals and the meanings behind the figures, their hunting, the grey rhebok, the eland, the shamans, their trances, the spiritual significance. It was quite a challenge reaching Willem 3 as the ground fell away steeply but well worth seeing the 4 well preserved eland all in a row. Then on we went to Christmas Cave with its mural of paintings. This was a fitting place for a lunch stop and a rest.

Back down we went, the burnt grass making path recognition and walking easy. Back to the picturesque rest camp, where we loosened our hiking boots, rested weary legs, enjoyed coffee or tea and chatted about the day. We were back in Howick by 4.

This was a very relaxed 12 km hike with Dave Sclanders a most knowledgeable guide. He set a moderate pace. Thank you, Dave, we look forward to more hikes with you in that charming area of the berg that you know so well.

Photo 1: Hiking group
Photo 2: Bushman paintings Willem 1
Photo 3: Bushman paintings Willem 2
Photo 4: Eland Bushman painting, Willem 3
Photo 5: Checking out the Christmas cave paintings
Photo 6: Christmas cave paintings
Photo 7: Admiring the paintings in Christmas cave
Photo 8: Animal paintings

Photo 9: Dave, Guide Supremo, on the route home
Photo 10: Berg bridge
Photo 11: Testing the bridge maybe
Photo 12: Resting weary legs back at the camp