Things To Do in Groendal Wilderness AreaGroendal Wilderness Area hikes
Where? Groendal Wilderness Area, Eastern Cape, South Africa
When? Daylight hours.
How much? Free
Start: just north west of Uitenhage
Finish: it varies
Duration: network of trails
Fitness: the major hikes are strenuous, but there are easy walks as well
Our tip: don't attempt the unmarked trails without a map
The beautiful Groendal Wilderness Area is the only established wilderness area in the Eastern Cape roughly 10 km from Uitenhage, renowned for its remoteness and myriad hiking trails.
A series of kloofs filled with the sound of running water and a wildness more usually associated with inaccessible and isolated areas, the Groendal Wilderness Area surrounds the Groendal dam, fed by the Swartkops River.
The reserve offers both marked and unmarked trails that include the relatively easy 16 km Blindekloof trail that takes hikers to Crystal Cavern Pool, or a short 4 km circular trail to the picnic area that is good for families.
Upper Blindekloof, by comparison, is one of three strenuous hikes that each average 32 km over two days. It leads from the parking area steadily uphill before rapidly descending into Blindekloof and along the stream to Paardekloof junction where you come out of the kloof again.
Without overnight huts, your nights are spent under overhangs or in caves, or you can bring your own tent.
Emerald Pool takes a route to the Groendal Dam crossing the Swartkops River all the way to Eel Cave. It is the route to the cave that catches some hikers.
And Dam Trail is the most difficult of all but does have a fairly clear footpath around the dam through riverine forest, alongside the Kwa-zunga River and through the Aquilakloof.
All the paintings and artefacts that you may stumble across in the series of caves in the wilderness area are protected by law.
Suggested Accommodation in the area: Kleinrivier Wliderness