Grootvadersbosch campsite

At Peter’s suggestion, prior to his annual pilgrimage back to the Cape, we booked a couple of nights’ camping in Grootvadersbosch with the idea of perhaps hiking to the Boosmansbos forest. We had undertaken the 2-day wilderness hike way back in 1999 in mist and rain. I had also hiked down to Grootvadersbosch at the end of a Rim of Africa stage from Montagu and had been struck by the beauty and location of the small campsite. After an afternoon strolling around the forest that is Grootvadersbosch, we struck out the next day for the watershed that overlooks Barrydale north of the Langeberge, having decided that the Saagkuilskloof trail looked too burnt. As we left the forest, a large bush pig (wild boar?) that had been spooked by the warning calls of monkeys, barrelled out of the undergrowth, unsuccessfully hurdled the road embankment and then hurtled uproad, luckily away from us, before disappearing into the forest. That was a new experience for both of us.

We lunched on the watershed and were surprised by a glider riding the updrafts along the ridge, the only warning being a soft buzz. Surprised by our energy levels, we completed the 23 km hike through 970 m. As Peter remarked in a FB post: “not bad for two old farts on the wrong side of sixty”.

Grootvadersbosch Nature Reserve protects 250 ha of indigenous forest, the largest remnant in the Langeberg. It was designated a World Heritage Site in 2015 as part of the Cape Floral Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site. Originally it was known as Melkhoutskraal and was assigned to one Roelof Oelofse, known as “groot vader”, in 1723. Adjoining private “nature reserves” are riddled with alien black wattle and pines, however, and really should be cleaned up.

Relive ‘Boosmansbos’

Boosmansbos Wilderness Area is incorporated into the nature reserve and encompasses 14 200 ha of mostly mountain fynbos, although a small patch of forest, the Boosmansbos, still exists high up.

Grootvadersbosch and the Boosmansbos watershed from the air

A number of cycling trails crisscross the nature reserve and the adjoining conservancy (which requires separate permits), but this time we decided against taking the bikes.

Grootvadersbosch campsite
Grootvadersbosch campsite
View south from the watershed
View south over Grootvadersbosch
View over Barrydale and the Little Karoo
View north-west from the watershed overlooking Barrydale

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