Your welcome at the elegant, self-catering Remhoogte Mountain Lodge, the starting point for the hike, is likely to include families of warthogs and, if you are fortunate, the elusive kudus that also call this farm home. The good news is that the owner has plans to stock up with several other antelope species which means a bigger reception “committee” for Johannesburg Hiking Club members in the near future.
One of the many appealing factors about the Remhoogte hike is its easy access; located in the southern Magaliesberg on the Gauteng/North West border it’s just 60kms, an hour in travelling time from the group departure point in Pineslopes. The main attraction though are the gullies that form the key elements of the hike.
The hike leaves from the pretty gardens at the rear of the Lodge. Previously the first stretch included hectic bundu-bashing but that is no longer the case. The owner of the property has created a path through the gentle incline facilitating movement over the sand and stone area. After a couple of hundred metres that tame incline turns into a steep one, along a demarcated, winding path through treed terrain that provides some respite from the sun. The challenging gullies that follow are the main feature of the Remhoogte hike, both on the ascent and the descent which follows the same route. Clambering up, over and through boulders, rocks, sandy stretches and trees requires stamina, mental mettle and some nifty footwork but the symphony of bird sounds that echo in the gullies provide a diversion of sorts from the physical demands on the body.
Having scaled the gullies, hikers arrive at a kind of natural platform that features large flat rocks with opportunities to take in the breathtaking views but it’s not quite the escarpment of the mountain range. There is another 100m or so to go over easier ground populated with masses of protea bushes and fragrant, wild rosemary plants. Once on top, leaders can tailor their preferred routes according to the levels of their fellow hikers and while there are no demarcated paths, the level of bundu-bashing is low. It’s an area dotted with White Lady succulents, a misnomer given that their flowers are yellow (the Afrikaans name Geelplakkie is more apt), and you’ll also see heaps of butterflies and the odd dassie.
Sites for lunch breaks are varied: flat rocks if hikers want sun or trees that provide umbrella-like shade and views from the escarpment down over the valley. The descent is via the same tract of gullies as the ascent and while it does not require the same energy levels it does necessitate high levels of concentration to avoid losing your footing. Many hikers opt to slide down sections of the return leg albeit with dire consequences for their pants and shorts! In addition, the long, dry grass on the demarcated trail back to the Lodge can test less experienced hikers.
The hike is rated “difficult”, and rightfully so; the hurdles served up by the gullies mean that members can only expect to cover about 7.5 km in distance during the six-hour hike. Remhoogte is, however, a testimony to the fact that hiking achievement and pleasure are not always measurable in numbers.
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