Thursday, March 2, 2017

Champagne Valley Walking Club - Nandi falls

Earlier this week (Tuesday) we met up with the other hikers from the Champagne Valley Walking Club: we were off on an easy but fairly long walk to see the Nandi Falls in the Drakensberg mountains.

As we arrived at the Ezimvelo Parks Board , I squealed and pointed to a demarcated space in the parking lot. Grant knew exactly what I was thinking. (How could he not? We've known each other for almost 50 years!)
Right here, the spot the grey pick-up is reversing into, Grant gave up smoking
He rumpled the packet still containing cigarettes and threw it into this garbage bin

BTW, can anyone outside South Africa work out why our garbage bins are battened down as shown in the photo ?
Before the start of the walk - Anni, Jen and Jen Grant, Anthony and Craig
Setting out 

It was a misty morning with promise of the mist burning off later
Our first stop was to view and photograph the Sterkspruit Falls

With the excellent December through February rainfall, (February measured 398mm - the highest in 50 years) the streams and rivers are flowing strongly and the waterfalls are gushing over the precipices at a rate of knots! 

Now for the walk: the description our schedule said this is a fairly easy, but quite a long walk with not much climbing via the Sterkspruit Falls . The path then followed Sterkspruit upstream, passing the Hlatikulu Forest, Cascades and Junction turnoffs. 

Grant and I had left our walking sticks behind. Can you believe it? Grant said he'd be fine without but I didn't relish walking without my trusty support. Within a few meters, Grant stepped off the path, found a largish mossy stick with a crook on the end and handed it to me.


It was an easy walk until the last part before the falls. We started to climb a contour path, winding up and up. Then leveled out through dense forests huge trees, fording small streams across our path. 

Out in the open, the path meandered and wound UP and UP again! The gradient is rather challenging but quite doable.  I was most grateful to Grant for the make-shift stick in my hand! 

Finally we rounded a corner, and came upon several of the group sitting in a clearing with the falls thundering behind them. 
 A clearing in the trees - note the rain drops on  my lens - it was wet and cool at our breakfast stop 

With the plentiful summer rains, the trees and foliage on the water's edge were thick and lush; the boulders to the river were rather wet and slippery. I got as close as possible to photograph the falls. 

Nandi Falls 

Grant, Anthony and Alan were behind us on the trail, so I waited for the coffee and sandwiches to arrive. I sat with Jenny on a mossy rock and we chatted while she had her breakfast. 
Jo and Jenny on a very wet mossy rock next to the river

Trish beckoned me to bring my camera: where she was standing, she spotted a Robin-chat flitting about in the undergrowth. 
I'd not seen this Robin - chat before 
Chorrister Robin-chat

Later that evening, Trish sent me a message identifying the bird as a Chorrister Robin-Chat.

It was very tame and kept hopping down to between our feet - obviously pecking up breakfast scatterings of crumbs. 

Grant, Ant, Alan, Shelley and Jen [Braithewaite] arrived. After enjoying our breakfast, and [me, another] 15 minute rest, we set off back down the mountain. 

Have you ever looked at the mountains from distance, seen the dense green forests on the slopes and wondered? Well, this is what it looks like inside!
Beautiful, isn't it ? 

Most descriptions of this hike on the Internet fail to mention the beautiful forests which you walk through to get to Nandi Falls. The afro-montane forests of Podacarpus henkilli  grow on the high, moist slopes of the Drakensberg. The tree is real yellow wood; protected and is South Africa's national tree.  

Technology is never far. As we entered a certain area, you could hear smartphone, Iphone and cell  phone messages going off. 

 Alan stopped on the path to answer a call 
The rest of this group was happy to take a break and waited along the path 

I heard a sunbird call and searched for the bird.
Malachite Sunbird
Although the photo is overexposed and blurry, I wanted to show the incredibly long bill on this bird! 
Alan arrived and we were off again
The Spinx quite a way above us 
Champagne Castle, Monks Cowl, Sterkhorn and the Dragon's Back shrouded in mist 

As promised, the mist lower down burnt off and the sun beat down on us by the time we rounded the last bend to the Parks Board offices. A young couple passed us on the way up. I turned around and caught this on camera...
A young woman with sun protection 

Jenny Braithewaite always has the stats of the walk on her Smartphone. In the car park, she gave us the figures: we'd walked 9.9km; done 14700 steps and climbed the equivalent of 29 storeys.

At the end of the hike, Grant took a photo of Jen and me. Note my home-grown stick! 
Jo Hedges and Jen Braithewaite 

Another tough day in the Champagne Valley! ๐Ÿ‘ด๐Ÿ‘ต๐Ÿ‘ฆ๐Ÿ‘ง


  1. What a perfect stick Grant found for you. It's so lovely on your walk/hike. I love the mist & the coolness of the forest. It would make the walk more enjoyable for me. I also love the beautiful scenery along the way. xx

  2. having visited Africa many times in MOVIES only, your photos are always a huge surprise to me. this gorgeous place you visited is so opposite of what I see in my mind when the word Africa comes up. that forest is wonderful and I love the photo that you said was misty... just stunning views... and I giggled at the cell phones another thing I would not think of...

  3. Hello, what a wonderful hike. The waterfalls is beautiful, lovely views. Pretty shots of you and your friends. I love the birds too, the Robin-chat and the sunbird are beautiful. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day and the weekend ahead!

  4. Wow---you two are doing GREAT... So glad you found a wonderful hiking club ---and what an awesome hike. You know how much George and I would love seeing those gorgeous waterfalls... Wow

    Congrats on a great hike.

  5. Nice hike and lovely waterfall.

  6. Lovely pics Jo! I can't image why the garbage bins are battened down... (Hahaa!!) Dit is 'n stunning omgewing waarin jy bly, en die mense lyk soos onse mense. Miss you!!


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