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LOCAL TIME: 10:58 pm | Sunday, 25 February
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The Cannibal Hiking Trail, Clarens

The Location of the Cannibal Hiking Trail near Clarens, Free StateThe Cannibal Hiking Trail’s name surely deserves some explanation at the outset – it is somewhat intriguing! Up until 2009 the trail was known as the St Fort Trail, named for the St Fort Homestead near the trail.

The trail was closed and re-opened in 2009, with a few route alterations, and named the Cannibal Trail because of a legend that a Cannibal roamed the area in the 1800’s and snacked on people in the sandstone caves.

True or not – it’s an eye-catching name, but don’t be misled by the severity implied. This two day hiking trail through the Witteberg and Rooiberg mountain ranges in the Eastern Free State Highlands, is rated as moderate, though a level of fitness is required to negotiate some hill climbs and ladders. The route offers a wonderful way for just about anyone to enjoy the pristine natural environment on the route and magnificent scenery of the Free State Highlands.

The Green Flag-accredited two-day route has amazing views, unusual rock formations, a comfortable base camp, a natural pool for bathing and a huge comfortable cave that makes for a really different overnight stop.

Day one of the route is 9km starts with some ascents but then levels out for steady hike through alpine grasslands and montane forests, mountain streams and rock pools, via several sandstone overhangs to the overnight spot at Mike’s Cave – a sandstone cave with an overhang. The cave is kitted out with mattresses, showers (cold water) and toilets, groundsheets, tables and chairs, but the highlight of the cave is the San Rock Art!

Day one includes a very steep 5om wooden ladder called ‘Jacob’s Ladder’. About half way into day one, Jacob’s Ladder takes you down to a tranquil and cool picnic spot for lunch.

Day two is 7 kms, starring with a short very steep climb, but one well worth it for magnificent views. Another ladder – this time a 125m ladder again takes you down off the sandstone ridge, and the route then follows the Caledon River back to the start.

Getting there: The trail starts and ends just outside the pretty village of Clarens, on the R712 between Clarens and Fouriesburg.

The trail is self guided but bookings are essential. Contact: Tel 058-256-1101, website.

More on the Cannibal Trail

More info on the quaint town of Clarens More info on the Eastern Free State area

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