South Africa is a veritable wonderland for outdoor activities like kloofing (Photo: iStock)
While the sport is not unique to the country, the South African manifestation is most certainly unique. With the varied and beautiful natural environment and dramatic landscapes, it is easy to see how kloofing - or canyoning - has found its home in the great South African outdoors.
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Referring to the ravines and gorges that form as mountain streams and rivers run down and up the landscapes forming natural valleys, the word “kloof” is an Afrikaans term that has come to widely represent the areas ripe for adrenalin-inducing exploration and adventure. Kloofing is, therefore, very literally, the act of exploring these unspoilt ravines. Outdoor adventurers do this by combining elements of hiking, rock-climbing, cliff-jumping, sliding and swimming.
As a country blessed with an abundance of mountainous areas and diverse landscapes and geological formations, South Africa offers thrill-seekers an untold amount of kloofing opportunities just waiting to be explored and conquered.
This often dangerous - but always fun - activity has its South African roots in the Western Cape where most of the established kloofing hotspots continue to provide thrills. As kloofing grows in popularity, more and more locations across South Africa are popping up as new kloofing hotspots.
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In the Western Cape two of the most popular and respected kloofing spots are Suicide Gorge and the Krom River Trail.
The Krom River Trail located in the Limietsberg Nature Reserve in the Bolands is a great way for beginners and moderately fit persons to enter the world of kloofing. Park your ride in the small parking area near the Worcester exit of the Huguenot tunnel. You’ll cross a small bridge and walk within sight of the highway for the first few minutes before you reach the river where the fun really begins. Follow the trail (look for rocks painted with yellow markings or white boot prints) as it takes you across the river, up and down its banks, to the various pools of water where you can cool off and swim if you so desire.
Breathe deep and bask in the glorious natural splendour, with indigenous ravine forest and mountain peaks forming the backdrop, you will soon be in for an exciting climb and jump.
You will encounter a waterfall with what can be considered a chain ladder for you to pull yourself up along as water streams down the rock next to you.
You are nearly at the final destination, a wondrous spot to swim, have a bite to eat and for the brave - jump off a ledge into the icy plunge pool below.
The final pool is noted for its relatively bigger size compared to the previous few and the likelihood that it is being used by thrill-seekers who are jumping from a ledge.
It may look unimpressive from a distance but head up to the jump area and the scale and height of the jump will have you questioning your sanity.
After lazing around here for a bit your kloofing session will fully end once you return to your car by going back along the same path you walked earlier.
For information about permits, directions, what to bring and more - check out the Cape Nature website. Alternatively, contact them by calling +27 21 483 0190 or emailing email@example.com
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Another extremely popular kloofing location in the Western Cape is the infamous Suicide Gorge in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve.
This one is definitely better suited to the brave, experienced and athletic among us as it can be quite a daring trail with compulsory 8-metre jumps and jumps as high as 20 metres.
It should be mentioned from the outset that once you start down the first jump, there is no turning back as the only way out is to go forward. Adventurers will love this wet hike as Suicide Gorge offers adrenaline pumping jumps in a scenic outdoor setting.
Park your car and head in the clearly marked direction of the route towards Suicide Gorge.
As is often the case with these wet hike area, you will traverse through a rivene forest and indigenous plant life such as fynbos.
Lucky adventurers with a keen eye might spot bontebok, red hartebeest, klipspringer, duiker and over 100 different species of bird.
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The river will be your guide as you inevitably, swim, hike, jump from boulder to boulder and leap into pools of freshwater as you follow the trail.
Once you’ve gone past the first few jumps you would have crossed the point of no return and your journey will be punctuated by jumps (ranging from 3 to 20 metres) into plunge pools and smooth slides down moss-covered rocks.
Stay cautious and keep having fun as you should be nearing the big, compulsory jump. Once you’ve worked up the nerve and pushed yourself to jump into the cool water waiting for you below, you’ll want to hang around for a bit, rest up and eat something before heading back to the car.
For information on permits, directions, what to bring and more - check out the Cape Nature website. Alternatively try calling +27 21 483 0190 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
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The North West Kloofing scene
The kloofing scene in North West province is on the verge of bursting into the mainstream with increasing numbers of outdoor thrill-seekers and nature enthusiasts finding the landscape of the province to be filled with great locations for kloofing.
The magnificent Magaliesberg range will be your playground as you go on an adventure through the Grootkloof.
Your kloofing adventure in the North West cannot be done without experienced and organised tours as you will need abseiling and canyoning gear to navigate this course. So be sure to contact local guides or tour operators to have a great, safe time kloofing at Grootkloof.
This kloof is moderate to challenging in difficulty and, like with all kloofs, adventurers need to be appropriately equipped and physically capable.
Your hike starts with an ascent of the slopes of the dramatic Magaliesberg range where you will walk by and through the browns and muted greens of the grasslands and the rocks that penetrate the grassland vista. Soon you will happen upon the stream that will be your informal guide for the remainder of the trip.
Stay on the stream’s path and you will enter into the kloof that will make you feel like you’ve walked back in time before human habitation of the planet.
With vines, fern, massive rocks and sunlight only barely creeping into the environment - you would be forgiven for feeling you’d walked into prehistory.
From here on you descend ever deeper into the kloof. Stream turns to pool and it is here where your boldness is tested as you are left with no choice but to enter the icy waters in order to progress.
As the path continues, you’ll abseil down until you reach a space between a rock and a cold place. At this point, you have no option but to move forward deeper into the kloof. Jump, hop and slide over boulders and streams for the rest of the journey and you’ll eventually end up out of the kloof in the (hopefully) warm rays of sunshine.
In order to complete this kloof, it is advised you contact the Mountain Club of South Africa. Contact info can be found by following this link.
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