The Guardians of Hell’s Gate

Shaheen and I discussed doing this route last year already but planning would have to wait until the new year.  There’s a 2 month waiting period for the Orangekloof permit so decided to do it in March.  I also had to make sure that Sanparks Volunteer Ranger Saeed is available to do the hike.  One cannot enter this protected area without a Guide or a permit and limited to 12 people per day.

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Saeed only told me later on that he actually doesn’t know where Hell’s Gate is.  Really?!  He’s only ever taken people up via Woodhead Tunnel. So now we were tasked with lots and lots of research!  There’s not a lot of info or photos of this route on the internet!  No landmarks to guide us to the start of Hell’s Gate!

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Going through photos of the route we did with Tim Lundy a few years back, I sorta in a way remember where the start could be.  I remember we started going up a path but we couldn’t go any further as the current was just too strong that stormy day.  I can’t even remember if he mentioned the route name back then. He must have.  Shaheen did Orangekloof with MCSA few weeks ago but they didn’t go to Hell’s Gate either.

Anyway, the 2 people we asked who have done the route before could no longer make it.  One of them did however explain to Shaheen how the route goes.  The other 1 couldn’t find a babysitter.

 

This was to be a hike for Shaheen’s friends but let’s just leave it at that lol.  With so many cancellations, Momeena and Shamiel could join us ^_^  So 8 of us started shortly after 7am but not before taking sunrise photos from Constantia Nek.  Oh yes!  It’s also Rashaad’s first hike since December.  Yes, he got himself injured again but this time by literally saving someone’s life.  Not my story to tell so will just leave it at that.

We go up ring road and notice how dry the area is compared to May last year and as usual, Shaheen and I hold up the rest of the group by taking a gazillion photos.  This time however, we had a model to pose for us ^_^.  I’ve also given up on my phone attempting focusing on the smaller flowers.  Not that this route has a lot of colourful flowers.  Maybe if we had more rain…Even the waterfall where we took photos at, has dried up.

We have a snack break at the dried up rock pool but it did at least have the tiniest of waterfall and at least this area is still green.

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We carry on and pass the turn-off up to the Tunnel and now walking from memory.  When we passed the path we took with Tim back then, I felt more confident that I know where we are going.  Not that we could get lost in area anyway but it’s nice to have familiarity around you.  I know to look out for a huge boulder which is my ‘cairn’ to Hell’s Gate.

I was surprised but not surprised at the same time as to how dry this area is as well! Last time, we had to assist each other crossing the strong stream!  But again, we did that route during one of the stormiest days that year.

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4 years ago

Anyway another snack break and I’m thirsty!  There seem to be some blockage in my hydration pack.  Even took the thing apart but can’t find the problem L

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After several photos, we start our way up and remember Kareemah stating that we have to cross over the ‘river’ a few times and walk along the embankment.  It was so dry, we could’ve walked straight up.

AND THEN!!!!

We got held up by the first of many rock pools 😀   Absolutely stunning! We tried not to spend too much time at the other rock pools and besides, Saeed and Rashaad just carried on without waiting on us haha.

At one point we had to traverse a short section 1 by 1 and of course had to take several photos of them crossing and my surroundings.

AND THEN!!!!

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I see where Saeed and Rashaad were and rush over to take photos!  I also see the Waterfall behind them!  We have reached Hell’s Gate!

Before rushing up to them however!  I had to take photos of my immediate surroundings of course and quickly scramble up to them!  Take quick photos of Shaheen and while they were still waiting on the others when I went off to get as close to the waterfall and I scream with glee at the beauty and how accessible it is!  Although with all my google searches, there was a whole lot more water but that was before our current severe drought.

I scream again with glee when I see the waterfall higher up!  Totally inaccessible though.  It would be too wet and slippery even with rope!

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Photo cred: Saeed

Lots and lots and lots of photos.  And videos too!

After our photo shoot, we see the guys standing about and ask them to flex their muscles for us 😛  Shamiel however, was too shy hehe.

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Photo cred: Shaheen

Checking the photos after, Shaheen said that they look like The Guardians of Hell’s Gate to which I replied, ‘Oh, that’s what I’m naming my blog post haha’

More photos and videos and finally settle down for breakfast!  Rashaad is not with us!  Where did he go?!  Saeed points up and said that he went up.  Oh?  There’s a route to the waterfall higher up!!! ENVY!  But not envious enough to follow him up haha!

We feast with everyone in high spirits with the sound of beautiful water surrounding us.  So much water and my hydration pack is blocked.  Warda kindly gave me one of her bottles.

Time to depart and I rush down first in order to take pics of the group coming down hehe.  And we are still taking pics leaving Disa Gorge.

Instead of going back the same way we started, I made the decision to carry on along Ring road.  My fellow hikers were not too happy as it seemed longer to them.   They have forgotten that it’s a long winding gradual incline back the way we came.  Even though we were on the opposite side of the cars, it’s all downhill from there.  We took about 3 hours (photo shoots included) to get to Hell’s Gate and should take around 1 hour back.

Except, their pace was slower than mine lol.

Also we were distracted by a fallen tree and of course had to take photos!

I also took the wrong turn as I couldn’t remember the path we took back then.  I went right instead of left so totally missed the Tented Camps and as a result, gradual incline.  Oops!  That way could’ve have been longer anyway.  I can’t remember as we went to explore the beautiful tented huts and bathrooms as well and we weren’t bothered with time back then.

I was a couple of minutes ahead of the group but did wait on them here and there and I was so very thirsty and so very hot!  I would have to drink from the top of my hydration pack but then remembered I still have the empty bottled of water so could pour my ice cold water innit!

Sat down at the first spot of shade I saw!  The group eventually caught up with me moaning about the incline *rolling my eyes* and at how long this is taking.  To which I answered, if they picked up their pace, we could’ve been at the cars already lol.

The final stretch was strewn with litter and if I had to stop and clear the area, the others would have probably kicked my butt should I hold them up so I left it.  Also mentally kicked myself for not picking up the litter on our way to Hell’s Gate thinking that I would pick it up on our way back….

There was also some guys in a bakkie collecting wood.  Pretty sure that is illegal especially that this is a restricted area.  They looked like they shouldn’t be messed with so didn’t take a photo of their shenanigans.

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We were done shortly after 1pm and everyone loved the hike!  Next time, I want to take the same path Tim took us – down into the basin and up to Ring Road.

Special thanks to Volunteer Sanparks Ranger Saeed for his time acting as our guide and for his power bank so I could take over 200 photos!  ^_^  He said that most people have external hard-drives but I need an external battery haha!

Until my next mountain adventure, ciao for now and thank you for reading

PS- Wrote this last night (Sunday) but couldn’t decide which photos to upload sigh.  Also I wanted before and after photos as comparison 😀

Orangekloof about 4 years ago:

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