When you mix mountains with moisture, you’re going to get a waterfall at some point. And, if you’ve got to put in a bit of work walking through the jungle to get to it, so much the better.
You’ll find the Waterfall Walk at the Magoebaskloof Hotel (halfway between Haenertsburg and the Magoebaskloof Mountain Pass).
But don’t let the word walk confuse you, this is definitely a jungle hike, even if it’s relatively short.
Where does the Waterfall Walk at the Magoesbaskloof Hotel start?
The Magoebaskloof Hotel isn’t difficult at all to find – and it’s certainly an accommodation option that’s on my radar for the future. You’ll find plenty of parking inside, not to mention friendly staff, ready to answer questions.
To get to the start of the Waterfall Walk, head past reception, past The Phoenix Pub and down the stairs next to the pool.
You’ll be greeted by this ominous sign. That said, I kind of love it; it describes a hike through and through – and still calls it a walk.
And, let’s be clear, the words you should pay attention to here are strenuous, steep, and slippery. This is all true, no matter how much you comfort yourself with the distance.
You should also note that this is the only sign you’ll see about this walk (erm, hike). The trail isn’t marked.
What to expect on the Waterfall trail
Straight away, the trail descends sharply and the words slippery when wet will start to reverberate through your brain. Let them. It’ll remind you to slow down and enjoy the otherworldliness of your surroundings.
It’s not a straight drop to the waterfall, mind you. There are a few places where the trail is obvious, mercifully flat and hardly slippery (even after a week’s worth of rain).
This is good news, even if you enjoy the challenge hiking presents; the forest is incredible. The layers and layers of green, extending from beneath you and reaching towards the sky defy description. At any rate, painting an accurate picture of the depth of green would require more words than most in the modern age are willing to read on a blog post.
Despite the lack of trail markers, you’ll find the path is easy to spot – mostly. You will need to cross to the other side of the stream (hey, there’s a waterfall, so you knew there’d be at least a stream, right?) on stepping stones.
There’s also some fallen tree trunk acrobatics to perform. Some are easier over, some under; you’ll need to figure out each one independently.
And, eventually, you’ll get to this spot, with disappointment mounting in your mind.
But, don’t panic, this isn’t the waterfall; it’s just a teaser.
A little ways past this point and you’ll get your first glimpse of what you came for.
And, even though it’s hardly the largest waterfall in the world, nor the most elaborate – it’s surrounded by lush bushes, tall trees and vines linking everything together. Truly, it is beautiful and worth the effort to reach it.
What you need to know at this point, is that this isn’t a circular trail. When you’ve hit this point, enjoy the beauty (allowing movies like Jurassic Park and Romancing the Stone to float to the surface of your consciousness). Then, head back the way you came.
You can look for a path to lead you onwards and upwards, circling back to the hotel, but at that point, you’re freestyling. I know; we tried it. Walking further only led to dead end after dead end – and might I warn you – a plethora of ticks and spider webs to watch out for. It’s not as much fun as you’d think.
When we doubled back and started chatting to Sandi Leigh (who was hiking with another couple), we discovered that, indeed, getting back to the hotel means retracing your steps. And, it requires just as much caution on the way up as given on the descent.
What I love about theWaterfall trail
The Waterfall Walk at the Magoebaskloof Hotel is one of the loveliest hikes I’ve had – thanks to the impressive landscape.
And, although it’s quite a short hike (which may be why they call it a walk), your muscles are likely to tell you otherwise. Much of the walk requires you to carefully consider where you’ll place your foot. You’ll need to test each stepping stone and clutch onto a few moss-covered trees to steady yourself on slippery slopes.
This isn’t a bad thing. All the time spent navigating your footing ensures a slower pace. And that means seeing more.
Although trail markers always give me peace of mind, I rather loved trying to figure out how bits of trail connect to each other. It’s not always obvious (as you can see here).
And finally, I must say that I found the Magoebaskloof Hotel quite inviting.
I love the idea of finishing off a walk with a drink at the local pub – and you’ll get that here. (The pub is also beautiful and worth popping into whether you do the Waterfall Walk or not.)
Moreover, you’ll find the Lesedi (Swartbos) Trail begins just outside the gates of the hotel, which means you can enjoy a day of walking interspersed with food and drink you don’t need to haul around in your pack.
Is there much more you could want when hiking in the Magoebaskloof mountain forests? (I’ll say it again; it’s a jungle.)
What you need to know about the Waterfall Walk at the Magoesbaskloof Hotel
In principle, you can hike any time and any day. But, you probably don’t want to hike when it’s dark or raining.
It’s free, but you might consider having something to eat or drink to support the hotel while you’re on their grounds.
Just the one and it’s about 3 kilometres round trip. It’s not the easiest hike, but definitely doable.
You’ll find loos and a spot to sit near the hotel reception. And, I strongly suggest you take a moment to support their restaurant and bar facilities while you’re here.