MHC - The Plaque, HIGHMOOR Nature Reserve, Central uKhahlamba Drakensberg
9 August 2002

Report and photos by Dave Sclanders

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

Highmoor is a hidden jewel of the central Berg. 2 caves a few paths,3 dams and a lovely swimming place down the valley are shown on the map, so it does not draw too much attention. But for the more spirited, hiking and walking is huge if you know your terrain or are good at map reading. It's name gives a bit of a warning for summer hikers - moor- Highmoor is relatively flat with large tracks of wet land or moors. During the wet season, stay to higher ground, go into the wet areas at your peril, once in it is difficult to get out, there are no shortcuts.

Our day was to walk to the top of the rock formation known as Cleopatra's Head. The views are incredible from here, unfortunately with time the old paths are lost and overgrown, so it is a hard cross-country slog especially when the grass is rank and dry. The other alternative was to do a big circular walk to the old broken Plaque, and cut back through the now dry wetland base of Highmoor , most of this area was burnt. So it was a choice between slog or sooty easy walking. Sooty won.

Taking a route not many hikers would know about, we set off towards Caracal Cave, then cut across country via some old animal tracks. The day was clear and cool, the sky was a crisp blue , the mountain was clear right to Monk's and Cathkin and the sooty was black ,powdery and blowy. The pace was fair with stops for some history, high points and places of interest in the berg, and a break now and then. We drifted from the path a while before the plaque and walked to the edge of the valley to look down into the incredible valleys below and in front of us. Breathtaking when it is green and clear. As always the hulk of Giants Castle was always in view.

From here we followed the road back the way we had come for some distance, then picked up a game trail that tokk us easily up a long hill and over the other side where we would have a lunch break, and look down into the top of the Kamberg Valley, and across to Redi Peak in the Lotheni area. In the distance we could see unburnt winter grass, however the fire that had been through the Central Berg must have been enormous, huge areas have been burnt.

Coming back over the hill after lunch to head for the moors, we had a very pleasant surprise. At this particular high spot we could see, far away across the moors/vlei, the top of the Rock Formation known as Cleopatra. Some of you may know that the rock face known as Cleopatra is no more. Some years ago the soft sandstone rock face crumbled, and Cleo fell into the valley below. However, now visible in her place, and only from selected points one can clearly see - poor old Antony.

The walk through the moors was through thick dry grass, with only signs here and there of any path. However, just when the legs were feeling it, we arrived at our chosen destination, a lovely waterfall still with water running quite well. There is the start of a huge valley here which is very spectacular when the area is green. A short stop here as the wind was now getting up, we headed up over the hill and back to camp and cars.

A really good day was had by all, good walking good viewing, good sooty faces at the end


Oh - for some sense and pre-planned action and forethought in this day and age. For the powers that be - shame on you, years ago somebody decided that that certain trees were to come down as being alien and a danger to the environment. At the end of last year , somebody must have received a chain saw for Xmas. All these "bad invaders" had to go. So, all the shade trees at Kamberg and Highmoor were cut down. These two resorts are popular tourist resorts offering great shady areas to visit during the heat of summer, where the fit could walk and the others could relax in some shade. Now there is nothing, no shade, no protection, no nothing. Once you have been there, you won't want to go back, it's ugly. Just buildings sitting on the bare, barren earth. No more a tourist destination. So much for Conservation of tourism.

WHY weren't trees planted years ago ??????????