Friday, 20 September 2019
The Groot Winterhoek is a wilderness area about 200km from Cape Town, just south of the Cederberg (and close to the ever popular Beaverlac campsite). Although the scenery is very similar to the Cederberg, the Groot Winterhoek gets a bit more rain and so has more luscious flora and colourful rock patterns, and hosts some spectacular mountain pools. The most impressive of these pools is Die Hel - a pool the size of a small dam sitting a very steep ravine about 16km from the parking lot.
We took the long way around to Die Hel, spending the first night at a spot named Groot Kliphuis. Day 1 was a fairly flat, long hike, where we managed catch a little bit of the Rugby World Cup (SA vs NZ) on the way in before walking out of signal. Soon after lunch it began to rain, and we were very relieved to find that there was a cave at Groot Kliphuis for us to relax and eat out of the rain, although it was too rocky to sleep in and we pitched tents to sleep in. We fell asleep quickly after finishing supper.
Day 2 began with a spot of rain in the morning, but it tailed off into a cool, overcast day as we hiked down to Die Tronk. This was our campsite under some oak trees for the evening, and served as a base camp from which Die Hel was a 40 minute walk. We climbed down into Die Hel in the shade of the late afternoon, and despite the mild weather we had a swim for posterity's sake. It was absolutely freezing cold, but worth it nonetheless.
Day 3, as Murphy's law would have it, had glorious weather. We packed up camp in the cool morning air as the sunrise crept over the horizon, and spent most of the day hiking back to the cars. Our lunch spot was at an impressive wall of waterfall, which we were all too glad for in the heat. The water was equally freezing cold, but the sunshine made up for it this time. We got to the cars at around mid-afternoon, dreaming of burgers and a cold coke.
Overall it was a fantastic trip, and definitely one to repeat in the middle of summer where the cold water of Die Hel will be more welcomed.