MHC - Cypress Cave, mKhomazi Nature Reserve, Central uKhahlamba Drakensberg
15 September 2019

Report and photos by Dave Sclanders, additional photos courtesy of Libby Deysel

[CLICK ON PHOTOS TO VIEW FULLSIZE - or view pics in accompanying SIMPLEVIEWER Presentation]



mKhomazi Nature Reserve at the foot of the main escarpment is a little-known reserve. The 2 overnight caves are McKenzie - a tough overnight walk, and Cypress a few kilometers from the office. This hike was to show our hike members where it was, and the beauty of this low-lying Nature Reserve. However we did not follow the path, and did a big circular walk that was almost totally off path.

The hike starts of heading down to the stream below the office, in summer after a heavy rain it can become unfordable as there is has a huge catchment area above this point.



From the crossing it was then a long uphill pull, walking alongside and in the firebreak, which bordered on another river far below. Frequent rests were taken to check the view, and to catch our breath. As the cave, our destination for the day was not that far away, hard hiking was not necessary. Across the river, the steep high cliffs leading to the boundary edge of the Kamberg soaring above us gave spectacular views of deep kranzes and dense natural bush in the kranz valleys



Coming to the top of the climb, we headed out across a large plateau to circumnavigate a serious cut back that prevented us following the top of the gorge. The grass was not that long as this area was burnt last year, and it gave an opportunity to catch up with the party and have a good chat as we headed to the cave.



Once around the cut back, we headed again for the river valley edge to be able to look down into a very narrow deep river with many pools and rocky baths and adding a very noticeable change of scenery. On the other side of the river the grasslands had been burnt, and this burnt area was a shimmering blanket of fresh green grass that contrasted so vividly with our side of the river. Walking carefull along the steep slope, we followed old worn, hard to see animal paths. One had to take time to stop and have a scenic view chance now and then as, following this old track was an "eyes down on the path only", an intense walking operation.



Eventually the waterfall that fell over the front of Cypress cave came into view. The cave is behind the trees and partially under the huge flat rock over which the water tumbles into the pool. From inside the cave, the water's edge is only a few meters away. Within a short while hikers were sorting out their lunch spots in the cool of the cave. After lunch some hikers went out onto the warm rocks to dip their feet into very cool water pools in the riverbed, while others spent a relaxing time chatting in the cool of the cave. A very pleasant place to spend a warm summer's day, or even a night in a cave with family.



Then it was time to head for our vehicles. A stiff climb from the cave to the plateau sent heart and breathing rates up. Once on the top, we cut away from the path and headed across the tall thick grasslands in a large circular way, heading back to the cars. Here we walked through long brown grass, with views across to high cliffs in the distance. While "brown grasslands" may sound boring to hike through, the colour brown is not one colour, there are so many different shades and textures that it is quite mind blowing and exciting to see the continual colour changes in the landscape.



We eventually reached the end of the plateau, and luckily with all our wondering across a trackless landscape, we found ourselves looking down on the old road that would lead us back to the car park. From there it was downhill to our morning’s river crossing point, then as always, somehow there is an uphill bit to get to the vehicles. Although we had not done a long hike, it had been a happy hike in an area that not many of our group had heard of or had visited. We were all happy to get to our vehicles, and head for home, with "maybe" in the back of some minds to come back here one day with family and friends and do this short walk to this cave and spend a happy day in the cave and river pools.



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Additional photos courtesy of Libby Deysel



Photo 33: Misty valley.
Photo 34-35: Cooling in the river pools.

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Lost Legionnaire(by Dave Sclanders)

Looking up to the top of the cliffs of Kamberg from our valley position, high up to the left is the outline of a large round rock on the horizon. Nothing very spectacular or noteworthy, unless you have been up there and scout these high peaks of this cliff, then a different story unfolds, very few people know about it or have had the good fortune to have been there. The story goes:

Many legions ago when empire after empire was built and lost with time and growth, a scouting party of the conquering empire at the time, was looking for expansion to the empire. They were hardy, heavily disciplined fighters, who treasured their kit above self and all else. Here on this lonely mountain top are the remains, embedded in rock, and immortalized as a standard of self-discipline, for all time. Here stands the head of one such conqueror, gazing out across and down the valley. One has to ask one’s self, what was he so intent on finding that he was left behind by his compatriots.


The Seeker

( If you look further and down into a lower valley, it is clear as to what he is looking for, and could go no further without it)
He had lost his sandal, and to loose ones kit was unforgivable. From where he was, he could not see down into this little valley below, so could not see the sandal or carry on with the mission.


The Sandal

Ps - don’t believe everything you read, but the Roman like head with helmet, and the sandal are there, in the high places on the top of this very steep and high valley cliff face.

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The hot early day temperatures and dryness of the grass can lead to serious fire hazard. Walk with care, watch the horizon all around, and if you see smoke make an early decision as to the best place to head for safety. Run away veld fires with very dry grass and winds can cover serious ground in a short time. Conversely, sudden heavy showers shed a lot of water into streams and rivers as the ground is very hard and takes time to soak water. Dry or low streams can become dangerous to cross in a short space of time. Be wary in crossing any water if the stream is flooded, you can step into a death trap.
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AGAIN A PLEA TO ALL BERG HIKERS - PLEASE FILL IN THE MOUNTAIN WALKING REGISTER PROPERLY AND ACCURATELY,AND GET THE EMERGENCY NUMBER OF THE OFFICE FROM WHICH YOU LEAVE. IT IS IN YOUR BEST INTEREST AT ALL TIMES.

Don't see it as a nuisance, see it as your insurance in a time of emergency



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