One of the gaps in my Mountain Club (Stellenbosch) portfolio is the annual hike up to Fonteintjiesberg and Brandwacht Peak, using the club’s Thomas Hut as a base. Finally, I joined Leonie’s scheduled trip, expecting a major uphill slog with a full pack. As it transpired, the walk up to the hut was fairly comfortable, not least because we had budgeted the whole day to cover the 6.8 km and 1137 m elevation gain, but also because the path was originally cut as a bridle path for the donkeys that ported the building material up for the building of the hut, back in 1930. The trail gains height rapidly but over a series of zig-zags of comfortable gradient. We also covered most of it in the shade on a winter’s, but sunny, day. Most of the ridges and peaks here were burnt earlier this year, so the protea vegetation is low and recovering, but the trail is free of loose rocks.


On the second day after an uncharacteristically warm night in the hut, we headed out to Fonteintjiesberg Peak, located in the little-known Fonteintjiesberg Nature Reserve, which is a provincial reserve and is also inscribed as a part of the Cape Floristic Region Protected Areas World Heritage Site extension. The reserve is managed by CapeNature as part of the Hexriver Complex. The Hex River Catchment Areas “collectively provide water to the Breede-, Berg- and Olifants/Doring catchments, which in turn provide water for the City of Cape Town and most of the towns and settlements of the surrounding Overberg, Bergrivier, Drakenstein, Witzenberg and West Coast municipalities. These mountain catchment areas are thus critical for economic- and agricultural development, especially given the potential and predicted effects of climate change” 1.
Fonteintjiesberg Peak

Towards the Hex River Valley and Matroosberg

The views north and east from Fonteintjiesberg Peak are breathtaking. One can peer down into JanduToitskloof and discern the Witels canyon a bit further away. Peaks and valleys in view range from Waaihoek, Groot Winterhoek in the distance, the Ceres Valley and Gydoberg, Baviaansberg, Milner Peak, Matroosberg, the Hex River Valley, Anysberg, Touwsberg, Keeromsberg, etc. Behind and below us, the Breede River Valley cuts a broad swathe through the landscape to the south, bordered on its western bank by Brandvlei dam.

Above Fairy Glen and Disa Dell

We had three days of perfect, windless weather with a touch of bergwind, which made for a pleasant weekend in the company of fellow mountain club members – people who want to be there, appreciate the isolation and the quiet, and are highly experienced.

The MCSA website tells a brief story of Thomas Hut, built by skiing enthusiasts from Worcester with the help of donkeys and schoolchildren (!), but for much more detail on its history and construction, visit the hut and consult the bulky tome that tells the story.

The golden hour at Thomas Hut

View more photos in the shared album