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Uitenhage - Hiking in Groendal Wilderness Area

Uitenhage - Hiking in Groendal Wilderness Area
Hiking in the Groendal Wilderness Area outside Uitenhage is restricted to experienced and very fit hikers with very good map reading skills. The 30,000 hectare Groendal Wilderness area was established in 1976 and has a total of four hiking trails. Groendal Wilderness Area is in the Winterhoek Mountain Range and forms the catchment area for the Swartkops or KwaZungha River which flows into the Groendal Dam.
The Groendal Wilderness Area is pristine land consisting of fynbos, some pockets of forest in ravines and some semi succulent bushveld shrub. The area is crossed by a number of streams and ravines that provide the area with much-needed nourishment. This abundance of wild vegetation provides the perfect home for wildlife and the Groendal Wilderness Area is home to a number of small animals. Hikers can expect to stumble on duiker, grey rhebuck, grysbok and mountain reedbuck. One might even discover a delightful but odd-looking family of bushpig or they might enjoy the curious capers of the vervet monkeys that live here.

Hikers may also be delighted to know that the area quite possibly served as one of the last refuges of the San people that once populated the Groot Winterhoek Mountains. Many of their rock paintings have been identified but hikers will be unlikely to see any of these unless they have a little help.

Trails

The most used and marked trail is the 16km Blindekloof Trail which starts at the office parking area. Hikers can expect to take 4 hours on the outward trip.. Hikers will go through a ravine forest before following the Blindekloof Stream to a memorable sight: the Crystal Cavern Pool. This is the end of the trail and at this point hikers turn back and return the way that they came. The trees along the way are marked with numbers to help guide you.

Other trails include

The Upper Blindekloof which is a two day thirty two kilometer trail
The Dam Trail (two days and thirty four kilometers)
The Emerald Pool Trail (two days and thirty two kilometers).

These three trails are very difficult and not well marked. Only experienced, fit hikers with good map reading skills should attempt them.

Maximum overnight capacity is 6 hikers and for safty reasons the authorities insist on a minimum of three persons to a hiking partyThere are no camping or restroom facilities on the trail. Hikers can bring their own tents or sleep under cave overhangs where they might be lucky enough to see remnants of the past. Fires may only be built in official fireplaces at the picnic or camp site.

The Groendal Wilderness Area is situated on the outskirts of Uitenhage, which is a part of the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Municipality.  Hikers and campers will have to obtain permits. Information, maps and brochures are  available at the office located at the entrance to the area.

Contact the Reserve Manager on +27 (0)41 992 5418 for more information and to pre arrange your hike.


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