2 May 2015

While not the highest point in the Langeberg range that surrounds the Klein Karoo village of Montagu, Bloupunt (1266 m.a.s.l.) stands out as the peak that challenges you to conquer it. Montagu is renowned for its wide range in temperatures that can make life uncomfortable for the hiker who undertakes a 5 to 9hr, 18 km hike in the Little Karoo. BUT the cool, overcast weather and an early morning (7am) start provided ideal hiking conditions. The party of 10 hikers started at the De Bos camping site (220 m.a.s.l), through the quaint lanes of Montagu West and into Joubert Park. Our first bit of excitement was in Joubert Park where we were privileged to watch two otters foraging in the shallow waters of the Keisie River. Both appeared to be in good health, fat with glossy, dark coats. They soon became aware of us and “scrambled” away up river.

The Bloupunt Hiking Trail starts officially in Joubert Park and one soon enters Donkerkloof along the jeep track that ends at the Klip Springer huts (over-nighting for hikers and sport climbers equipped with bunk beds and ablutions). The path then continues to follow the stream that has its source on Bloupunt and surrounding hills. Ever changing scenery of green riverine vegetation, magnificent rock formations, ravines and mountain streams lift the spirit and relieve the energy sapping effort of parts of the climb. About 3.5km from Joubert Park it is advisable to fill water bottles as there is no water after the trail leaves the stream at that point.

Views of the Breede Valley open up as one gets beyond the 720 m.a.s.l. elevation with the path contouring and zig-zagging up the south-west facing slopes of the Langeberg. After a final and quite strenuous, steep climb to the summit of Bloupunt one is confronted by breath taking views in all directions. The Langeberg mountain range stretches north towards Worcester and south-east towards Barrydale. On a clear day one can see Towerkop near Ladismith in the east and, some say, the sea to the south! The towns of Ashton, Bonnievale, McGregor, Montagu and Robertson can be seen nestled among vineyards and orchards in the hills and valleys below.

After a billy of hot tea, lunch and a good rest the party started the long downhill track on the eastern side of the mountain. Once back in the valley bottom the trail follows the river and past a few waterfalls that are worth visiting if one has the time. They are especially worth visiting on those (typical for Montagu) hot days after a few hours on the trail, to submerge yourself in the cold water of the small pools at the base of those waterfalls.

Being a circular route the last section of the trail again passes the Klip Springer mountain huts and ends in Joubert Park – in our case we walked back to De Bos 9hrs after we had started. Tired but relaxed and elated after a magnificent hike.

A highlight of our trip was to watch the wonderful and energetic efforts of the two youngsters who did the climb with us (supervised by their parents). These two, Ruben and Rachel, 8 and 7 years old respectively, completed the hike with flying colours having obviously enjoyed the experience. They reminded all of us older members what it was like to be young again ….End

Mark Hardy

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