Two Gorges Trail
Type: Overnight (2 days)
Total time: 6-8 hours per day
Colour on map: Red
The Two Gorges Trail is the ”flagship” hike on Kleinrivier. It could be hiked for its entire length, or in sections, depending on the time available and physical capacity of the hiker.
Day 1 (10 km)
The first day starts off from the parking area at Black Eagle Camp. The first section follows the Kleinrivier gorge all the way up to where it crosses the 4x4 tracks. This section is about 5 km long and will take about 3-3.5 hrs to complete and shares a common course with the Tierhout Trail for the first 2 hours. It is easy going with drinking water and swimming potential (unless it is very dry). Spectacular rock formations, pools, cliffs and flora are only part of what make this a memorable nature experience. Where it crosses the 4x4 track, continue straight up the gorge (more a kloof now), and follow the trail as it turns gradually to the right into “Drieling kloof”.
Notice the Protea cynaroides bushes on the bank towards your right as you enter the kloof. Follow the trail through the underbrush until you exit Drieling kloof, via a steep short uphill, where it then follows a more gradual incline up to the game fence. Go through the gate and follow the trail up onto the ridge of Chases kloof with wonderful vistas of Uitenhage and PE on the left, and Kirkwood valley and the Zuurberge in the distance to the right. The trail follows the ridge until you reach the game fence again. Go through the gate and follow it downhill all the way to the lodge, which is the end of the hike for day one. You can relax and enjoy your overnight accommodation. Total time – approximately 6 - 8 hrs.
An alternative, for a day-hike, would be to turn left at the 4x4 track crossing and to follow the 4x4 track up onto the eastern plateau and then back to the office. This section is about 5 km long and will take about 2-2.5 hrs.
Day 2 (11 km)
The second day of the Two Gorges Trail starts from the parking spot at the stone lodge. It shares the first downhill section with the Cycad Trail, down to the Palmiet Rivier Gorge. Continue straight where the Cycad Trail turns off to the right. The trail then follows the Palmiet River all the way down to just before Kaalgat. This section of the trail has plenty of water and swimming opportunities. Up to here the going is easy. The valley scene varies from open fynbos covered sides, dotted with cycads, to rocky outcrops covered with dense valley bush vegetation. As the gorge narrows, forest trees form a leafy canopy overhead, and the sides rise up in vertical rock formations. This part is 4.2 km long and should take 2.5-3 hrs.
You can proceed for about 300m,down the gorge to Kaalgat, which is a crystal-clear, rock-lined natural pool. As it is fed by a fountain, it never dries up. This is NOT part of the trail and requires a bit of a clamber. Tip: follow the rope for the easiest route. Come back the same way to join the trail. Do not trust the rope with your full weight as it is sun damaged. Watch out for the black eagles nesting on the western cliffs above Kaalgat.
At this point(marked), before Kaalgat, the trail becomes a steep uphill, straddling a rocky ridge, up to the Western plateau. This heavy-going, but not technically difficult part of the trail, will take about 60min. Fill your water bottle to hydrate you on this section.
Once you are on top of the Western Plateau (about 1.1 km) you can relax as it is downhill for the entire way home! Follow the trail on the plateau which gradually meanders downhill over the rocky grass and scrub-covered terrain. Appreciate the play of light over the valley below and the fading blue pastels of faraway mountains. Cross the 4x4 tracks and stick to the trail hugging the edge of a gorge and looking all the way down onto the snake of vegetation at the bottom. The trail then becomes a steep downhill all the way down to the Kleinrivier gorge. This section is extremely steep and slippery under normal conditions – more so when wet. It is very hard on the knees. Turn left in the gorge and follow the trail back past the Black Eagle camp to the office. This section of the trail takes about 2 hours.