THE WARTRAIL SLACKPACKING SKYWALK

Love the idea of exploring the great outdoors on foot, but not  keen on carrying a heavy backpack and camping in temperamental mountain weather ?

The Wartrail farming community near Barkly East hosts The Slackpacking Skywalk; which is rapidly gaining renown for its pristine beauty, generous hospitality and memorable sightings.

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The hiking route traverses varied terrain, from farmland to veld,  sandstone valleys to Basalt mountains, reaching altitudes of 2700m, revealing the splendour of the Southern Drakensberg.  Your guide, Allan Isted,  from Bidstone Cottages, is knowledgeable, sensitive and engaging; with a passion for sharing the territory with others.

The hike through this untouched mountain range provides the  opportunity to watch the majestic and rare Bearded Vulture, spy on shy Reedbuck and marvel at the variety of Alpine Flora.  The district’s many sandstone overhangs reveal some of our country’s best rock art.  Allan’s perceptive insights and enthusiasm gives each viewer their own intimate experience relating to this powerful social art form.

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WARTRAIL SLACKPACKING HIKE ITINERARY

Day 1 : Travel to Glengyle Farm.
You will be welcomed by Debbie and Oliver.  Dinner and breakfast served in the farmhouse dining room. Glengyle has a spectacular English country garden and breathtaking views of the surrounding Southern Drakensberg peaks.

Day 2: Hike from Glengyle to Kernow.  20 km easy hiking.
Allan will meet the group at breakfast time and we set off at around 8 am.  We walk along an old contour road which runs along the top of a sandstone rock formation. We pass old stone farm buildings and then descend into the Balloch valley: a World Heritage site boasting spectacular sandstone features.  We visit a rock art sight in a cave for lunch.  After this break we walk along the farm road and then up to the Kernow farm. Kimberly Mitchell will welcome you to this comfortable home, and host you for dinner and breakfast.

Day 3 : Kernow to Glengariff farm.  15 km easy hiking.
During this hike we stop at a Boer war safe house fort .  We drop down into the Joggomspruit canyon where Allan will show you some more rock art galleries.  We then walk through the Rannock wood and end up at our 3rd guesthouse, the historic pink sandstone homestead of Glengariff farm. You will be hosted by Bella Viegie, a local lady- and the most talented cook in the district.

Day 4 : Glengariff to Bidstone Farm.
There are 2 route options on day 4.  One 14 km moderate hike (under Halstone Kranz)  or 25 km (over Halstone Kranz) for our more advanced hikers. One the hike, Allan will discuss which option serves the group best.  We follow the river, zigzagging under sandstone overhangs, some of which feature more rock art.  Then up into the mountains, either over or under Halstone Kranz .  Either way, this is spectacular day, with scenery changing constantly, and the chance of sighting Bearded Vultures a reality.  We pass Funnystone farm, which has fantastic sandstone formations and meander the final few kilometres to  Bidstone.  Bidstone is a most welcome sight; with cold craft beer and a ‘Lang Tafel’ where our guests enjoy a woodfired pizza evening and a well-deserved rest.

Day 5: transfer back to vehicles left at Glengyle.
Breakfast at Bidstone is served outdoors on an Argentine style fire Chapa. Guests pack up for the last time and transfer back to their vehicles at Glengyle and start the journey home.

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Climate: A typical highland climate with moderate summers and cold winters. The area has summer rainfall with afternoon thunderstorms. It is suggested that you start your trails early in the morning so that you have descended the mountain soon after lunchtime. The days are warm (28º – 30ºC) and the nights cool (a sweater will be needed).

Medical conditions: When you book you must notify us of any medical conditions, medical history, or medications that you are on. In particular asthma, diabetes, heart conditions and allergies (especially to wasp/bee stings & any food allergies). Please advise us if you have a history of knee or ankle problems.

What to bring: Our mountainous areas can experience extremely cold weather, even in summer. Warm clothes are essential. We insist you have the essential items below and reserve the right to make you purchase / hire them before the hike.

Essential items:

Hiking boots                                            Day pack

Waterproof raincoat                                 Warm fleece / wool jersey (not cotton)

Gloves / mittens                                       A good all-weather jacket with hood

Shorts & tops                                           Polypro thermals – top & long-johns

Socks                                                     Warm hat or balaclava

Sunscreen & sunglasses                          Water bottle (1L)

Spare shoes or sandals                           Flashlight / head lamp

Insect repellent                                      Basic medical kit including space blanket

Toiletries                                               Swimming towel

Optional extras:

Camera                                               Gaiters

Binoculars                                           Walking poles

 

Price – POQ : Email allan@bidstonecottages.co.za

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