About the Swartberg Mountains
The mountains of the Swartberg (meaning “Black Mountain”) run east to west parallel to the southern coast line approximately 100 kilometres away.
This magnificent mountain range stretches over 250 kilometres and separates the Little Karoo Valley from the much drier Great Karoo Semi-Desert.
The landscape can best be compared to parts of New Mexico or south western Texas with thick brush, few large trees, rocky slopes and high, jagged peaks. Rainfall in the extensively farmed Little Karoo Valley to the south of the range is around 300mm per year and only 150mm per year in the Great Karoo on the range’s northern side. However, the mountains themselves receive over 900mm of rain per year including snowfall which is common in winter but can occur year round. The peaks are sometimes enveloped by cloud in the mornings making progress almost impossible but the cloud cover usually burns off during the day.
The region does not have any big game although one can expect to see baboons and some species of antelope. There are leopards and caracal in the mountains but the chances of actually spotting these shy creatures are remote. Birdlife is only prolific in the cooler gorges and is quite scarce on the rocky mountain slopes. There are venomous snakes like cobra, boomslang and adder, but these are rarely seen. The snake you are most likely to encounter is the small berg adder, which is seldom a danger.
Hiking in the Swartberg is strenuous and mostly off-trail, but a richly rewarding experience of nature, giant peaks and solitude. The untouched, remote natural setting and landscape views are spectacular! It is also very unlikely that we will meet other hikers while on trek, making for a true wilderness experience.
5 days - classic trek.
Depart from Cape Town on the famous route 62 towards the Little Karoo via the towns of Worcester, Montagu and Barrydale until we reach Ladismith about 360km from Cape Town. We overnight 12km west of this small town in a huge, beautiful, and fully furnished farmhouse with stunning views of the Swartberg Mountains. The house can sleep up to 16 people and bedding is supplied. Here we do our final packing, preparation and relaxation before the hike.
Day 2 (6 - 7 hours hiking)
Trail starts at about 550m ASL and we will follow a seldom used, rugged footpath up the beautiful Swartberg Mountains to a height of approximately 1950m ASL where we will sleep in a cave with fantastic views over the Little Karoo landscape. Water for drinking and cooking is available at the cave or close by.
Day 3 (7 - 8 hours hiking)
Today sees us climbing further up past the huge cliffs of Toverkop Peak and eastwards along an impressive ridge. About halfway to Seweweekspoort Peak we will overnight in a lovely cave with stunning views of the Great Karoo far below. Water for drinking and cooking is available at the cave.
Day 4 (7-8 hours hiking)
We continue along the ridge and then onto the summit of impressive Seweweekspoort Peak (2325m ASL), the highest mountain in the Western Cape Province. After spending some time on the summit we descend about 350m to a lovely cave where we will overnight. Water for drinking and cooking is available at the cave.
Day 5 (3-4 hours hiking)
Today we descend from our last overnight cave down the mountain to the beautiful and scenic valley of Hoeko from where we return to Cape Town or continue onwards for an add-on tour.
Add-ons and Options for this adventure:
- For the truly adventurous we can add a day for a summit climb of Toverkop Peak between Day 2 and Day 3. This involves a technical rock climb of at least 3 pitches using traditional climbing equipment. Participants need to be fit and competent seconding on multi-pitch routes of intermediate grade or harder and have a good head for exposure.
- After the trek we can continue on an adventurous tour of the Little Karoo and southern Cape coast. Activities can include caving, abseiling, quad-biking, paddling, ocean kayaking, bungy jumping, scuba diving, riding an Ostrich or cage diving with Crocodiles! Contact us for a proposed itinerary.
Numbers and Guide/Client ratio:
- We can accommodate 1 to 15 people per group
- Minimum of 1 guide: 6 clients
Trekkers must be of at least average trekking fitness and able to carry a fully loaded backpack continuously for 4 days. You will need to carry some of the group equipment as well as your own food, even on a catered trek. No previous trekking experience is required.
Catering and Porters:
Trekkers can be self-sufficient or the trek can be fully catered. Porters are not available as an option on this trek.
You will require full overnight trekking equipment for mountain conditions and appropriate clothing. Tents are not required as we sleep in caves, however a bivi bag is highly recommended. Certain items can be hired from Venture Forth. Please download the Swartberg Traverse Packing List.
Transport ex-Cape Town return is supplied by Venture Forth in an air conditioned minibus or by overland truck depending on group size and full itinerary.
Recommended follow-up programs:
- A day at a spa! (or any other Soft Adventure)
- MDT Advanced Mountain Leader course
- Introduction to Traditional Climbing course
- Guided rock climbing ascent of Toverkop Peak
- Climb to the Roof of Africa and summit Kilimanjaro