Author: Linda Fletcher
Quick Facts & Tips:
Distance: 12 km
Duration: 8 hours, out-and-return day trail
Permits: Book online at www.capenature.co.za (click on book now – Overberg – Grootvadersbosch – Walk Activity: Sleeping Beauty Trail) or contact CapeNature Contact Centre 087 087 8250 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Parking: Dedicated parking space about 200m after the historical Toll House, direction Riversdale.
What to pack: Hat, sunscreen, hiking shoes, sufficient water, energy bars, protective clothing and a camera.
Best time to visit: Ideal months for exploring the fynbos on the mountains are March and April and again in August and September. Spring, autumn and winter are generally cooler and more pleasant for hiking.
How to get to the Sleeping Beauty Hiking Trail: Follow the road to Ladismith (R323) for about 20 km out of Riversdale. After ascending the Garcia Pass, you will find a dedicated parking area on the right, approximately 200m before the Old Toll House. The start of the route is on the left just after the Toll House.
The golden hiking rules:
1. Walk on the trail only
2. Hike in a group
3. Do not harm the plant and bird life
4. Do not litter
Warning: Do not ascend Sleeping Beauty in inclement weather and be prepared for sudden weather changes.
Sleeping Beauty Hiking Trail
The town of Riversdale in the Western Cape is renowned for the iconic profile of a beautiful woman reclining on the mountain crest, affectionately known as “Sleeping Beauty”. This wonder can also be experienced up close on the 12km Sleeping Beauty Hiking Trail that winds through the scenic folds of the Langeberg Mountain range.
From Riversdale, travel on the R323 road towards Ladismith for approximately 20 km, ascending the breath-taking Garcia Pass. This magnificent, well maintained, tarred pass was designed by the famous road engineer, Thomas Bain, and was opened in 1877.
You will come across the parking area on your right; from here you will take a short, 200m walk past the Old Toll House, a historic building that was declared a national monument in 1968. You will then see the start of the trail just ahead on the left side of the road.
The trail initially winds through fynbos vegetation on the Langeberg’s wetter Southern slopes, then ascends along a kloof where you cross three mountain streams to an indigenous forest before emerging in the fynbos again. You can also enjoy a break at the picnic benches under the shaded canopy of the forest – you will see it on your right-hand side when you enter the forest, endearingly called ‘Towerbos’ by the locals; when translated this means magical forest.
You can refill your bottles with fresh mountain water at the three ravines the route crosses, which you’ll find between 1.5km and 2.5km on the trail. There is no water along the route after that, so make sure you have enough water for the 3.5km climb to the summit as well as the 3.5km descent back to the nearest stream.
The trail then zigzags steeply to a saddle behind Sleeping Beauty, gaining over 300m in altitude over the final 1.5 km. Towering more than 1,000 m over the surrounding coastal plains, the spectacular views of Riversdale and the Korentepoort Dam from the 1,343-m-high peak makes the climb extremely worthwhile. Look out the visitor’s book at the summit and be sure to write your name and comment on your experience.
The journey to the peak is a treat for all nature lovers!
The range to the north of Riversdale is renowned for its profusion of fynbos plants, including rarities such as Riversdale heath (Erica blenna), and two cone bush species endemic to the Riversdale Mountains: Leucospermum mundii and Leucospermum winterii. The impressive King Protea (Protea cynaroides), Peach Protea (Protea grandiceps) and broad-leaved, blue and greenhead sugarbushes are among the Protea species to be found.
In the forested areas you can expect to find typical tree species which include Yellowwood, Stinkwood, Red Alder, Hard Pear, Cape Beech and Candlewood.
An abundance of birdlife can be seen while wandering leisurely through the Fynbos. You are likely to spot Cape Weavers; Protea Canary; Cape Siskins; Karoo Prinia’s; Bokmakierie’s; Cape Sugarbirds and Cape Bulbul’s along the trail.
To enjoy the fauna, flora and magnificent panoramic views of the Langeberg Mountain Range get your hiking boots on and purchase your permit for the Sleeping Beauty Hiking Trail from Cape Nature at www.capenature.co.za.
Photos courtesy of Anja Louw from www.mindfulrunner.co.za