This is an adventurous route,
starting in a densely wooded ravine with 20-odd waterfalls and
tiered pools. The path then leaves the gorge and meanders across
the mountaintop, following the ridge above the farm, before descending
a gorge to another farm and dam and then following a jeep track
back to the start.
When entering a vakansieplaas, it’s unusual to be greeted
by an indemnity but when hiking the eight-hour circular Waterval,
route it’s easy to see why owners Mac and Susan Jordaan
cover their backs.
When I heard about this hike, up a series of waterfalls in a
kloof and then up across a mountain and down another kloof, I
had to do it.
Waterval is just outside Porterville, lying where the Olifantsrivierberge
merges with the foothills of Groot Winterhoek, and only two hours
from Cape Town.
My first encounter with Mac Jordaan was when a group of children
trailed behind him, carrying containers of food for the various
farm animals – sheep, goats, horses and two Springbok.
Apparently Mac not only accommodates hikers and campers but also
animals rescued from road accidents and airports. His quiet gentleness
is immediately evident and it came as no surprise to hear that
he was a teacher of science and mathematics in Porterville but
he is now living his dream. “I love trees,” he states
reeling off scientific names and, “there are 46 indigenous
trees and shrubs between the guava trees and the first waterfall”.
Mac is almost blind and has an untreatable eye disease but,
despite this, he has built the resort and hiking trail, an enormous
feat considering having to bypass 20-odd waterfalls.
The weather prediction wasn’t good, 100% possibility of
rain in Cape Town over the Freedom Day long weekend. Hoping for
better weather in Porterville, we set off for Waterval vakansieplaas
and sure enough woke to clear blue sky and no wind. Four of us
set off on the ascent of Assegaiboskloof, according to the maps,
but because it’s on Waterval Farm, most people call it
Watervalkloof. There are said to be 26 waterfalls but it’s
anyone’s guess how they can be counted. Some are high and
spectacular while others are shorter, gushing rivulets however,
all of them are delightful to see, photograph and I’m sure,
in warmer weather to swim under.
Climbing the first vertical ladder, we crossed still-wet rocks
and a slippery looking log bridge, the indemnity running through
my mind: “Regardless of how it may have been caused or
occurred and/or whether it occurred directly or indirectly as
a result of any negligence by the abovementioned parties.” The
indemnity was no longer a laughing matter as we scrambled up
steep rock slopes, climbed vertiginous ladders, crossing and
re-crossing the stream on moss-covered slippery rocks – a
veritable obstacle course and mind your head!
Two hours later we reached the top of the forested gorge to
pass through a bushy section, soaking us from head to foot after
the rain of the past two day’s. As the sun hit the rocky
cliffs, we stopped for a welcome break.
“Follow the yellow markers. If you can’t see them,
you’ve gone the wrong way,” Mac’s words rang
in my ears as we followed a clear path but with no markers. What
relief as we came across an arrow and relaxed as we traversed
the face of the mountain with Porterville spread below among
golden wheat fields. Unusual rock formations surrounded us inspiring
our imaginations to run wild.
Mac had talked of a “crater” and I visualised a
barren depression surrounded by rocks, it was in fact a vlakte,
verdant with restios and flowering Brunia nodiflora, Stompie.
Our route took a course past a rocky outcrop and Haeria argentea
Kliphout, some in flower and some with bright red glossy berries,
plus aloes, clinging to rock face. At this point we had been
walking for four hours.
Making our way through the forest, we entered the vlakte to
enjoy lunch, sunning ourselves like dassies on rocks, before
the descent into Blindekloof.
The descent is dreadful! With knee-wrenching sections of loose
rocks, bushy in places and with two vertiginous ladders to bypass
the waterfalls, we were unhappy! We moaned and complained, we
slid and swore, but it came to an end, thankfully, and a final
stretch along a dirt road back to the farm, six hours from the
The waterfalls were spectacular but we need to go back and appreciate
them fully, now that we know that we can survive them!
Grading: If you don’t like the wooden steps in Skellies
(Skeleton Gorge) this is not for you. If you are sure-footed,
have a good head for heights and hike regularly then it is for
you. A bonus is that you need only carry approximately half a
litre of water, because the water quality is so good.
Thanks to Karen Watkins for submitting this hike.
Karen Watkins (Author of Adventure Walks & Scrambles
in the Cape Peninsula)