Mountain Sanctuary Park
Worth a visit.
As I walk into the Mountain Sanctuary Park reception area, I see a father and his two young sons standing at the counter, talking to the ranger on duty. They huddle around one of the park’s printed maps while the ranger explains to them how to get to Fountain Pools.
“What is over here?” the man asks. “At the West Pools rapids?”
“Just more pools.” the ranger answers.
“Is it worth a look?”
After they leave, it’s my turn. The ranger whips out an orange highlighter and quickly starts to mark ‘places worth visiting’.
“Go here… don’t go here or here.”
Armed with local knowledge, I set off.
MG was abroad for two weeks on holiday, so I was exploring alone. Walking in silence instead of with the usual talking gives one a unique, heightened experience of a place. It’s quiet. No traffic. No voices. No anything. The silence is only broken when a guinea fowl and I give each other mutual heart attacks. After some choice words, the quiet returns.
The ranger was right, Fountain Pools has some amazing swimming holes, as does West Pools. I spend a large part of the morning here swimming and exploring.
For lunch, I stop at the aptly-named Table Top Rock.
The Twins, about 600 metres east of Table Top Rock, are two interestingly eroded rock spires. These layers of rock were deposited two billion years ago by a giant inland sea, making these spires older than even the Himalayan Mountains.
The bright orange highlighter suggests that after The Twins, I follow the Weikloof stream towards the Slide Pools. Here, the ancient sea has created ripples in beach sand, which over millions of years, and due to immense pressure, crystallised into Quartzite, a very hard and weather-resistant rock. It’s spectacular to imagine that the ripples I am looking at now are over 2 000 million years old.
En route to the rest camp, I decide to take a quick detour to Klipspringer Rock. As I stand and quietly take in the surrounds, I hear a snort. A klipspringer ram didn't hear my approach and is calmly staring off into the distance. I manage to sneak around the back of the outcrop and sit down a mere 10 metres away from him. Unperturbed by my presence, he is joined by an ewe. The two allow me to sit and watch them for as long as I want, giving me time to take in their every detail: the ram’s little horns, the glands in front of his eyes and their grizzled coats. They seem quite at home on their rugged and rocky outcrops, despite their silly little high heels and stubby legs. Contrary to the advice of the highlighter, it was worth a look after all.
Who would’ve thought? A klipspringer on Klipspringer Rock. Amused, I decide to not try my luck at Leopard Gully and head back to the rest camp.
With or without company, Mountain Sanctuary Park is well worth a visit.
Trail Head Location (WGS84)
S25º 50' 08.6" E27º 28' 33.8”
Mountain Sanctuary Park Reception
S25º 49' 14.5" E27º 27' 37.4"
Mountain Sanctuary Park Gate
Other Trails At Destination
Network of trails. A hike here can be as long or short as one would like to make it.
For a longer hike include Cederberg Kloof and Tonquani Kloof as part of the route – Non MCSA members must obtain permits for these kloofs.
Total Distance : 7,2km
Trail Type : Circular
Trail Markings : Good
Starting Altitude : 1459m
Summit Altitude : 1626m
Lowest Altitude : 1450m
Difficulty Rating : 4 / 10
Dustbins : N
Water points : Y. Avoid stagnant pools.
Toilets : Y
How To Book
Mountain Sanctuary Park Reception
+27 14 534 0114
Office hours 8am-5pm
Hiked 20 September