Earlier this year we discovered magical haven hidden in the middle of the Knysna forest. While browsing the Internet for various hikes and trails in the Harkerville area, I stumbled across the Drupkelders trail. It was fairly nearby and after a morning of markets and good food we decided to get our hearts pumping and head to the forest for some exercise. After buying permits and receiving some tips about the difficulty of the trail, we made our way to the starting point.
Heading into the forest was pretty easy, we meandered down a wide, gentle downhill where we were able to take in all the beautiful nature that surounded us. Mossy fallen trees lined the dusty, gravel pathway and when we stopped to get a closer look we discovered all sorts of beautiful plants, fungi and flowers hiding amongst the thick vegetation. It honestly felt like a scene from the animation, Fern Gully.
The track only got steeper and narrower as we continued to descend. There were lots of areas on the trail that literally called for ‘hugging’ a tree in order to avoid injury. There were also ropes placed in parts where there wasn’t a strong tree to help steady our feet. The trek down the valley took about 40 minutes and wasn’t really strenuous, but it was something we needed to take our time with as it was challenging in parts.
When we got to the bottom, the views were amazing. The valley face formed a cave like area that was damp and cool upon entering. As we emerged out into the middle of the valley, a river filled with various sizes of peaking rocks forming tiny waterfalls as water rushed in-between them and lush green vegetation leaning into the fresh waters’s edge instantly took our breaths away. It really felt like we had unravelled a mini paradise, it was so beautiful.
Immediately we saw why the trail was given the name Drupkelders, the rocks on the valley face had a unique shape that made them look like they were hanging and constant droplets of water ran down their surfaces to their tips, making them look like dripping rocks.
The river water had a rich black colour which almost made us feel like we were dipping our toes into a pool of Coke.
Water so dark that if it was still enough our reflections seemed almost life-like. A swim was so inviting yet so intimidating. The icy water hit us like a smack in the face. I didn’t last very long, but Jeremy thoroughly enjoyed exploring the rockpools.
While spending the afternoon picnicking on the rocks with our toes dipped in the water, we spotted two very energetic eagles soaring around the gap in the trees. Their nest was at the top of one of the highest trees. It was nearly sunset and they were probably getting ready for a night’s hunt.
We started our climb back up the ravine before it got too dark. The climb back to the top was 10 times more strenuous than climbing down and took us a lot longer. I was so thankful for the ropes that had been placed in steep parts. Never take those days of playing on a Jungle-gym for granted. The slanted wooden slate with a rope hanging down the middle, knotted in places for gripping with your fingers and toes, conquering that as a kid is going to come in handy someday. I was using the same motor-skills at 29 years of age in the middle of the Knysna forest as I did as a 5 year old imaginary mountain climber on the school playground.
Getting to the top was a reward within itself. Red faced, sweaty and a sore bum the next day, but oh so worth it. We took amazing photos and had an fantastic experience playing with nature the whole afternoon. I highly recommend doing the Drupkelders trail if you are in the Knysna area.
What to bring along for this hike:
1. MOSQUITO REPELLENT – mosquitoes love the damp conditions. The sneaky buggers are ready for attack right behind every tree stump. I was victim to a few bites.
2. Shoes with grip – the trail doesn’t receive a lot of direct sunlight and can be muddy and slippery in parts, especially on the steep parts.
3. Swimming gear – you’re going to regret not packing these when you get to the bottom. You’re going to want to cool off before the climb back up.
4. Packed lunch – you’ve got to have some refreshments while enjoying the view.