Fynbos Trail Day 1
Our Fynbos Trail journey started in September 2016 when my wife and I accidentally stumbled upon the Funky Fynbos festival while visiting friends in De Kelders. We ran the 35km trail run (our first long distance trail run!) and absolutely loved it :-) Here we are at the enchanting waterfall in the Witvoetskloof forest.
The run largely followed the core section of the Fynbos trail, a three day hiking trail in the mountains surrounding Gansbaai. After our amazing experience running the trail, we simply had to also hike it!
The packages for the hike range from unguided, un-catered core to a fully catered, guided trail experience. We were fortunate enough to be able to experience the latter option and were super grateful :-)
The first day was just a hors d’oeuvre for the rest of the hike. An opportunity for everyone to settle in at the luxurious Whale Waters guest house. (Check out our view from the honeymoon suite below, nice!) and then a short walk along the coastal path to the Drupgat cave.
We were led by Sean Privett. Sean and his wife Michelle established the trail back in 2007.
Every hiker on the full slack packing option receives one of these amazing field guides, co-authored by Sean.
Soon we reached Stanford’s cove, a rare sandy bay in the mostly rocky De Kelder’s coastline. The cove is named after Sir Robert Stanford a former british military officer who once owned a number of farms in the area (including the Kleine Riviers Valley, which is now the town Stanford). He used to use the cove as a Launchpad to ship his produce to Cape Town.
Sean is a botanist by training and therefore we were treated to a wealth of information on coastal fynbos vegetation.
The coastal path is well laid out with wooden bridges guiding the hikers…
Soon we arrived at the Drup Kelder Cave. The cave is privately owned and access is strictly controlled. Sean’s dad is the "keeper" of the cave and the only person other than the owners that is allowed to take people into it.
We made our way down the steps to the cave.
These days, the entrance is locked. Previously the multitude of people using the cave let to carbon dioxide buildup, which killed all the wildlife in the cave. All access was prohibited and after 6 years the wildlife restored itself. Now access is limited to 20 persons per day.
Sean’s dad enthralled us with interesting anecdotes. We heard, amongst others, of Lady Ann Barnard's intrepid travels, how children created their own wonderland and how a farmer's wager backfired spectacularly.
The Drup Kelder Cave has been the main source of fresh water in De Kelders for decades. There is constant stream of fresh water gushing out from the limestone in the cave. Even as the Western Cape is experiencing an excruciating drought, the water flow in the cave is still unaffected.
Finally it was time to say goodbye to the cave.
We made our way back to Whale Waters, but not without more interesting nature talks by Sean.
It was just about time for dinner, yay!
The salads are made with fresh ingredients farmed on Grootbos as part of the Growing the Futures Project (more of that later).
The main course was lasagna...
With a decadent chocolate desert, designed with complimentary creative license from Sean.
Sean was on his way to the Jack Cheetham and Letsema awards dinner in Johannesburg. The Grootbos foundation was nominated for the work they do for sport development. Sean would meet us again at his farm at the end of day three. We were all holding thumbs for the foundation.
Our little group retired to our rooms, excited at the prospect of three more days of hiking in the Gansbay mountains.