A hike in the arid Robertson Karoo

Beyond the Boland and Riviersonderend mountains of the Cape, the rainfall becomes much less which results in the dominance of more hardened, water conservative ecosystems. Many species of succulents  together with numerous dwarf trees and shrubs make this region their home. On higher slopes and ridges one can find patches of renosterveld and along the (mostly seasonal) riverbanks, groves of sweet thorn trees grow.

The succulent karoo is a spectacular ecosystem because it gives one an appreciation of nature’s ability to adapt to harsh climates and still flourish.  The land here is home to various elusive creatures who mainly come out between dusk and dawn like the duiker, cape mountain leopard, porcupine, pangolin and grey rhebok. I’ve heard a interesting theory from a farmer once – he said the reason why mammals like the rhebok, duiker and leopard weren’t hunted to extinction when the Europeans came was because they are elusive and nocturnal animals. This is probable because one never sees any signs of life during the daytime unless you stumble upon a duiker resting in the shade or such.

Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve is situated between the towns of Robertson and McGregor in the Breede River Valley. It hosts various facilities and trails – worth the visit! The Rooikat Trail is a 19km route taking you up the Elandsberg mountains offering spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. There’s no water along the way, the route is strenuous, takes about 8 hours to complete and you’re in the sun the entire time = come early and prepared!

What makes this trail unique is its remoteness and length. Nowhere in the popular routes will you have the privilege to spend a day out on the trail by yourself (plus your companions) in the company of only the stillness of the views and the beauty of mother nature. At the end of the day everyone’s feet are aching and tired but there is a mutual feeling of gratitude to be able to live on and experience such a wonderful Earth.

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