Have you climbed the five highest mountains in our national parks?
If casual nature hikes don’t excite you anymore, it is time to raise the bar or, the size of the mountains you tackle. While you’re at it, aim for the highest mountains possible. If this grabs your attention, stick this list against your fridge. For this bucket list, size matters. These are the five highest, accessible mountains to climb in the South African National Parks:
1. Ribbokkop – 979m
The Golden Gate Highlands National Park’s Ribbok trail is one of the highest altitude hikes in any of our national parks and also the ultimate challenge. Not only does this tough two-day trail test your mental and physical fitness, but you will cross Ribbokkop, the highest peaks in the park. Start at Glen Reenen Rest Camp, situated at 1850m asl. Not only will you cross Ribbokkop the 2829m peak, but also the 2732m Generaalskop. The trail is 28km long.
Bookings: Overnight accommodation R155 per person. Call +27-58-255-1000
2. Table Mountain – 926m
The ultimate challenge is also the most famous landmark in the country. The aim: Maclear’s Beacon. One of the steepest routes starts down the road from the Wash House in Oranjezicht via the Platteklip Gorge in Tafelberg road. You will start at approximately 160m above sea level (asl) and work your way up to 1086m asl. Bargain three to four hours to get there, but this depends on how fast you hike.
Bookings: None required. It is open-access.
3. Formosa – 800m
Hiking to the highest peak in the Tsitsikamma Mountains in the Garden Route National Park is not for the faint-hearted and should only be attempted by experienced hikers. Conditions are dangerous. Your ascent starts at 743m asl and your climb finishes at an altitude of 1543m. The trail is not promoted and starts on private property, but you will enter the national park just after the halfway mark. Start early; this 10km return journey can take the entire day. A word of warning – don’t consider it if you suffer from vertigo.
Bookings: Special permission is required to park at the starting point. Contact Marius Strydom at +27-42-272-1721 to make arrangements.
4. Vandersterberg – 650m
Only the brave dare explore the unforgiving landscape of the Ai-|Ais/Richtersveld Transfrontier Park on foot, but it is a thrilling adventure with spectacular scenery. The highest point on the Venstervalle hiking trail takes you close to Vandersterberg’s 1343m peak, but not over it. You will climb from 350m up to 1000m asl at the highest point of the trail. If you are extremely brave, make a detour to the top; just remember that conditions are extremely windy and steep and should not be attempted unprepared. If you do, you would have climbed 993m – pushing Vandersterberg to the top of the list.
Bookings: Hendrik Prins on +27-84-742-9797 or [email protected] Cost R250 per person to book the three-day Venstervalle hike, open from April 1 to September 30.
5. Highest point on the Outeniqua trail – 510m
Expect spectacular scenery like only the Garden Route National Park has to offer. The trail starts at approximately 340m followed by a climb to 850m. The remainder of the trail goes up and down, but don’t reach the same heights again. With a total distance of 108km over seven days, this is definitely one for the fit hiker, though it can be done in sections.
Bookings: +27- 44-302-5606. It will cost R76 per person per night.
Keep in mind:
- Prices are valid until October 31 2015. Additional conservation fees apply for Ribbok, Venstervalle and the Outeniqua.
- Minimum and maximum hiker’s numbers apply
- The right hiking equipment, clothes, sunscreen and drinking water is essential.
- Enquiries: www.sanparks.org
Written by René de Klerk (SANParks Times: www.sanparkstimes.co.za)