Port Elizabeth has some blooming good hikes

Flowers along the Sacramento Trail between Schoenmakerskop and Sardinia Bay

It seems that it doesn’t matter where and what time of year you go for a hike along one of the trails around Port Elizabeth, there is always plants flowering. It’s one of the great things of especially fynbos which is found along a lot of the coastal trails around here. Something is always blooming, doesn’t matter the season. With level 3 lock down allowing hiking, there’s really no excuse not to get out over weekend to go and experience the beauty of our region, even if you just go and walk the first couple of hundred meters of the Sacramento Trail in Schoenmakerskop.

Google Street View guy in PE

A month or two ago I was down in the city centre on a Sunday morning to take some photos and I noticed a guy with a funny thing on his back come walking up the road towards me.  As I passed I realised that it was the Google Street View camera. Cool! There may be photos of me taking photos of the Street View Guy on the net soon.
Fast forward to last week and Google launched 170 trails, all 19 National Parks and 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites throughout South Africa available on the Google Street View platform.  You can now literally follow a whole trail 360 degrees from the comfort of your chair and check it out before taking it on yourself.  
You can either go and search for the 170 trails on Trailfinder or go straight to Google Street View for a look.  

Baakens Valley trail view

Yesterday morning I hit the trails in the Baakens Valley just off Alan Drive with Chaos Boy to go and find a few Geocaches I haven’t had a chance to do.  It’s been a while since I’ve been on them and just realised again why the area is so popular with trail runners and mountain bikers.  Here Chaos Boy is enjoying the view of the river below at the one spot on the trail.

A mountain pool dip

A couple of weeks ago I got to finally go on the Waterfall Hike at InniKloof outside Hankey.  Something we’ve been wanting to do for quite a while now.  It was a day of beautiful views, huffing and puffing over a mountain, nearly loosing a child in the wilderness and finally taking a swim in a refreshing mountain pool under the waterfall in stunning surroundings.  You can read more about our adventure in the post Up(s) and down(s) and into the water at the InniKloof Waterfall hike on Firefly the Travel Guy.

Up(s) and down(s) and into the water at the InniKloof Waterfall hike

Everybody has their travel bucket lists.  I’m no different but because I would still like to do a lot of travelling I have divided mine into International, African, South African and Eastern Cape.  One of the things that has been on my Eastern Cape travel bucket list for a while now is doing the Innikloof Waterfall hike.  Innikloof is situated near the Gamtoos Valley town of Hankey and the hike is done once a month as a guided hike as it crosses private land and a conservation area.  The return walk is about 14 km long and well worth the effort, but don’t kid yourself, it’s not a walk in the park, like we found out. 
Innikloof was the location of the annual Port Elizabeth Geocaching camping weekend this year and the Saturday was set aside to do the Waterfall Hike.  We could not spend the weekend so rushed out from Port Elizabeth  early morning to join our fellow cachers and InniKloof owner John Wait on the hike.  The first kilometer is an easy stroll down the road to warm up those calves and then the climbing started.  To get to the kloof the waterfall is in you have to literally go over the mountain.  Not around it, not through it, not underneath it, but over it.  The climb from the start wasn’t too bad as it was a gradual one and by the time we arrived huffing and puffing at the top we enjoyed fantastic views back the way we came.  After a short walk along the top of the mountain I realised that we had lost Chaos Boy.  He walked ahead of the group when we stopped to take a breather and seemingly took a wrong turnoff.  I seemed to be the only one really worried and after about a frantic 30 minutes the message came along that he had found his way back just in time to link up with the back markers.  Hope he learned his lesson.  

The view down towards where we were going was stunning.  You can see the river as well as a number of waterfalls and cascades below but this was also where the big challenge of the Waterfall Hike started.  Getting down the steep side of the mountain.  It is a descent of engaging one’s diff lock, keeping the air brakes engaged and making sure you don’t pick up speed too quickly.  Going down here you quickly realise that you will have to come back up and it won’t be easy, but that was a hurdle to overcome later cause we started to hear the waterfall below us. 

Once down at the bottom it’s like a different world.  The waterfall flows into the dark pool below and being hot and sweaty after the walk there is only one thing to do…

Clothes off, costume on and into the refreshing water.  Always refreshing to be able to swim in a mountain pool like this. 

The Damselfly chose not to swim, but did fill her bottle from the waterfall. 
Nice cold water for the journey back.

Before starting back though John took us a little further down the river to see the falls and cascades we noticed from the top.  Although the stream is a bit low due to the drought it was still a great sight.

A girl and her dog.  Well, actually John’s dog but hey, a picture tells a 1000 words. 

Fellow Geocacher Spiesie enjoying the view
As we started our journey back up the mountain side we found the dried out feces containing a lot of bones and fur.  My guess is leopard with the Cape Leopard still found in these mountains.

Just in conclusion.  As I said at the start, the InnKloof Waterfall hike isn’t an easy one and not one to just pitch up for in slops and with a towel around the neck.  It’s also not just a stroll down to the stream and you need to at least be used to walking a longer distance than just over to the corner shop.  We had a number of non-regular hikers in the group and they all completed it so don’t let me scare you off.  I just want anybody considering doing this to be aware of the difficulty.  The views from the top as well as the end destination makes it all absolutely worth it so keep an eye on the InniKloof Facebook Page for more information about their monthly escorted Waterfall Hikes.  Another good suggestion.  Don’t just go out for the hike like we had to do, but rather spend the weekend either camping or in a self catering chalet in this beautiful spot outside Hankey.  You won’t be sorry.

Disclosure: We went on the hike as part of the Geocaching group and paid our own way.