Traversing the Matroosberg from the Ceres side to the Hex River valley
Paul Verhoeven proposed and led this 3-day kloofing trip as a more “sedate” version of the usual MCSA two-day dash down the kloof. Groothoekkloof descends rapidly from the ski slopes of the Matroosberg, which are reached via hiking path or 4×4 track from the Matroosberg Nature Reserve on the Ceres side. In winter, the saddle above the kloof is treacherously icy for unwary snow-seekers, having sent a few souls over the edge to their deaths, as the plaques attest to. The drops near the top are precipitous (9 abseils), interspersed with thick bush and scree stretches which make for some rugged bundu bashing . Lower down the kloof becomes wet, with ice-cold waterfalls, slippery boulders, fern and moss draped cliffs, clumps of verdant indigenous forest (dubbed Wonderwoud (magic forest) by the kloof’s pioneer, Retief Jordaan), including 3 wet abseils, one of which ends in an icy pool. In the damp shadows arum lilies are still in bloom. Here the kloof often becomes a slot canyon where one can at times almost touch both sides with outstretched arms. The final barrier, known as Die Ertjie (The Pea), is a big boulder from which one has to jump about 3 or 4 m into a deep, black pool. Relatively few will have the chance to experience this beautiful kloof – those who do can count themselves as privileged.
I thought that the Witels was a tough kloofing trip, but it has nothing on this. “Witels on steroids”, according to Santie. I emerged battered, scratched, cut and bruised, my backpack destroyed, but I was thankfully in one piece, although appreciably worse for wear than most of my companions. (I did, however, postpone a hernia op to do this, without apparent adverse effects, so perhaps I coped ok).
View the group’s photos in the shared photo album
or in this album.
- Be fit or be young;
- Have a reasonable head for heights;
- Waterproof your pack – it will be in water;
- Pack very light – your upper body will have a serious workout, and abseiling with a heavy pack can be tricky;
- Make sure all electronics are either waterproof or well packed in dry bags;
- Use light aqua shoes that drain quickly and have “sticky” soles;
- Do take a wetsuit top at least – you will lose core heat rapidly in the slot canyon.