This year, I joined the Mountain Club of South Africa, one of the oldest mountain club in the world. And recently, I organized and lead a beginner’s hike including… a night in a cave! This sounds a bit exceptional but here in the Berg, it’s pretty common. As you would for a cottage or any accomodation, you can simply book each cave (sometimes rather a balm or rock shelter) listed in the Park.
The adventure starts the day before the departure when I realized that I booked the cave for the week actually following the hikd … and that 12 people were supposed to take part in the hike would find themselves thus without lodgings. Big panic because the cave in question, called Marble Bath, was already booked! Fortunately, a cave in the next valley, Lower Injisithu, was available and included a similar mileage: 7-8 km with a slow gradient, with superb views and possibility of swimming. Phew, we were saved!
The rendezvous is given at Injisuthi camp in the northern part of the Berg. The winding road turns almost into 4×4 track for the last kilometers but everyone arrives safe and sound. Arf! The weather is unfortunately not at the rendezvous and we start our weekend in the rain.
Quickly, we move deeper in the valley under the mist. Halfway, the sky finally emerges and lets us admire the escarpment.
In 3-4 hours with a chill pace, we finally arrive at Lower Injisuthi Cave. The wind has risen, we are all more or less tired, and frankly, a little cold. After the rain and tutti quanti, I have trouble warming myself, photo proof: technical sweater, fleece, gloves, wool beenie, all in a goose down sleeping bag! Otherwise, it’s rather cozy!
The idea was to make an event out our night in the cave (the first time for the majority of the weekend explorers!). On the menu, a Belgian-style cheese fondue: beer is used instead of wine. Cheese is not really a south african thing and as a european it can really be dissapointing and; unfortunately we only find cheddar and if we are lucky, Emmental. Well I’m exaggerating, but if you want more, you have to look a little. The result was more than delicious!
Fortunately, the wind finally calmed down. Before taking refuge in our sleeping bags, we spent a little time alone with the stars. There is very little light pollution in these mountains (or not at all!), we can therefore generally admire the Milky Way.
Two weekends later, I kept on going in the south of the escarpement from Garden Castle. On the program, 2 caves: Sleeping Beauty and Pillar Cave. These are 2 very popular caves because of a very easy access BUT we decided to take an original angle by literally taking a path off the beaten path. Unfortunately, I injured my ankle the first night and we had to fall back on the popular trails. But, the magic was still with us!
This time, we make a little folly: we hike at night! What an epic adventure. Difficult to navigate day in general because the cards are not precise, it becomes even more complex at night with the fatigue of the day’s work and the road … and then, the fog rises! But, we arrive safe and sound to discover this beautiful cave.
We go down the valley to the camp for a swim in a natural pool, Mermaid pool! Or how to get a free and refreshing spa in the mountains …
And you, when are you joining me for a (skinny?) dip in a Berg pol and night in a cave?