Almost by accident I was nominated to lead a MCSA Stellenbosch section kloofing trip down the Visgat canyon. Visgat is a highlight of the MCSA Cape Town section’s summer calendar and they kindly allocate a few dates to Stellenbosch. The fact that I could have easily filled the seven other slots in the group three times over attests to the popularity of the trip. The standard itinerary is to drive to the Witzenberg valley and stay the Friday night at Klipspringer cottage, descend into the canyon the next day, float/swim down to where the river exits the canyon, walk back to the cottage, braai, and on Sunday walk down to where we exited the day before, jump about 5 m into the canyon below the falls, float/swim/slide most of the day to the exit point beyond the big falls on the left, and hike back to the cottage. The MCSA obtains exclusive permits from the landowners. No private trips are allowed, unless one rents their cottages and arranges to kloof, I would assume.
It’s a spectacular weekend and we take it at a leisurely pace. By early February the water level has dropped appreciably, so that there is more bouldering and bumping down rapids than usual. Nevertheless, there are long sections of lazily drifting down the narrow, sheer slot canyon, through deep, black pools and quietly gazing at eagles and indigenous fish.
The canyon cuts through privately owned land, a farm on the upper section and a private nature reserve lower down. For the first time I have noticed black wattle invaders springing up near the sandy beach on the upper section and below the falls. They usually gain purchase where the canyon widens. Eradication is required to prevent them eventually choking the canyon and changing its ecology.
True to form and driven by distraction, I had forgotten to pack in any breakfast or enough energy snacks, so that by Sunday afternoon the hot climb out of the canyon sapped my energy thoroughly. The young group of adventurers must have wondered about the old codger “leading” from the rear. Anyway, there were no mishaps and everybody seems to have had plenty of fun. Needless to say, the drive back on Sunday featured a ravenous hunt for a decent ‘burger.
View the shared Visgat album