Hiking in Giant’s Castle

While in South Africa we went to Giant’s Castle Game Reserve in the Drakensberg Mountains. Giant’s Castle is a game reserve for the Eland (antelope) and the bearded vulture. Giant’s Castle has many hikes of all kinds: short, long, easy and hard. Jacob and I were super excited because we hadn’t done a real hike for 8 months.

When we first got to the hotel, it was already dark. We couldn’t see the view around us. Once we were all settled in, we went to bed. The next morning we got up early and headed for breakfast. Before we could leave we saw the amazing view outside of our windows. The view was absolutely stunning. There were mountains all around us. It was a very good surprise.

View from window

View from window

During breakfast we decided which hike we were going to do. Jacob and I wanted to test our limits and go on the longest hike. Twelve hours round trip was the estimated time.

View from trail

View from trail

River

River

We packed our day bags and headed out. The first hour was really easy with almost no uphill and the same amount of downhill. Then in the next couple hours it got harder. We had to hike through waist high grass and bushes above our heads. Just as we were getting used to the bushes, we came up onto a hill with grass as far as the eye could see with a stream on the right side dividing the grass and forest. We hiked and hiked for what seemed like hours until finally the trail lead onto the top of the hills.

Walking and walking

Walking and walking

Almost at the ridge

Almost at the ridge

Jacob and I were very hot because we were in full sun. There was no shade. Luckily there was some wind so we didn’t get unbearably hot. I saw a cloud in the distance and started walking at double speed. Once we got into the shade of the cloud, Jacob and I ran up the hill in front of us which was also one of the tallest. Once we were on the hill, we took a quick break and ate some granola bars and apples.

Shade!

Shade!

A little later we spotted a troop of baboons on top of a nearby hill above us. We were careful to keep an eye on them because we were in a little gully. If they wanted to charge, they could easily out run us.

BABOONS!

BABOONS!

Once on top of a hill again, we surveyed our surroundings. We saw was that there were two rivers, one on either side of the hill. I found it unfair that there was water on both sides of us but we couldn’t drink any because the slopes were to steep.

Panoramic view

Panoramic view

Next the trail we were on headed straight for the rocky mountains ahead of us. We were already getting tired and didn’t know if we would be able to make it all the way back. On that note we decided that it was time to go back. On the way we started looking for a good spot to eat.

When we eventually found a place to eat. It was on top of the hill we took the break on earlier. For lunch we had jam sandwiches and the leftover apples. Once we finished, we headed back to the hotel. When we got back we realized we had been gone for 6 hours. I am glad we didn’t do the 12 hours that we planned. I had a ton of fun doing the hike and would go again if I ever found myself in South Africa.

The next day we headed for the caves. The caves are a group of caves with drawings in them from before the Europeans came. The hike to the caves was about one hour long each way.

Walk to the caves

Walk to the caves

Once at the caves we went in with a guide who told us a story about the caves and the drawings and made sure we didn’t vandalize them. She showed us where scientists had excavated and found different materials over time. It was interesting to see that they found so much in one little area. After that she showed us the drawings. There were mostly drawings of humans and antelope. There were also some weird poking spirit things. It was all painted in yellow, black and red.

Humans and spirits

Humans and spirits

Cave drawings

Cave drawings

My favourite drawing was a drawing of two funky looking spirits with two heads, horns and a buff human body.

My favourite two drawings

My favourite two drawings

I really enjoyed the hike and learnt some new things in the caves.

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