Into The Wilderness: Two Nights In A Mountain Hut

I’m perched on the edge of a cliff, a winding valley with a small river rushing through it lies before me. To my right, towering snow-capped peaks bastion the undulating Fynbos-covered landscape that rolls beneath it.

We have escaped the humdrum of the city for two nights in the Du Toit’s Kloof mountains. A wood cabin in an isolated valley will be our home.

One backpack each and a small cooler for the beers.

One backpack each and a small cooler for the beers.

We’re carrying everything we may need, even a 3kg bag of charcoal. My pack feels suitably light, I did spend an afternoon carefully zip-locking all our powdered milk, pasta sauce and hot chocolate into sandwich bags like an OCD Stepford wife. I’m chuffed. Jamie’s carrying all the braai meat, beers and wine; he’s sweating.

As we leave the N1 behind us, the roar from the cars is slowly muffled out by the silence of the surrounding landscape. Our shoes crunch the gravel and our ears prick to the songs of the birdlife that thrives here.

Our feathered friends, the Cape Sugar birds, with tails as long as your forearm, dart from Suikerbossie to King Protea and back, parading their handsome physiques to their unadorned female counterparts.

Male Cape Sugarbird by Vincent Mounier.

Male Cape Sugarbird by Vincent Mounier.

Once we get onto high ground Jamie points into the far distance, like really far distance and says we’re headed beyond the furthest peak. I’m momentarily flabbergasted, he must be pulling my leg. We put our heads down, one foot in front of the other and enjoy the fresh air. We do some birding, tracking and meditative walking and after surviving the “pass” two hours have lapsed and I can finally see our quaint alpine hut in the distance.

The Agtertafelberg hut is the jewel in the Mountain Club of South Africa’s crown. It’s compact and well-built with an indoor fireplace and attractive views out of every window. We’re stoked!

Agtertafelberg hut. Home for two nights.

Agtertafelberg hut. Home for two nights.

We arrive just in time for the sun to set, Jamie gets the fire going, I collect water, we stretch out in front of the fire and cheers to making it. A three-quarter moon rises from behind one of the massive peaks and lights up the surrounding darkness. We’re all alone in this wilderness. We’re warm and we have silence and we have sherry!

Over the next two days we have the mountains to ourselves; no time constraints or appointments, no cellphones, just quality time with ourselves and our ancient, perfect Cape Fynbos surroundings.

Snow on the Du Toit's Kloof Mountains.

Snow on the Du Toit’s Kloof Mountains.

These are the moments we long for when we’re stuck behind our laptops or sitting in smoggy rush-hour traffic. Naturalist John Muir said it best, “climb the mountains and get their good tidings.”

Vista of the mountains from the balcony.

Vista of the mountains from the balcony.

 

Useful tips if you’re visiting a MCSA mountain hut:

  • Make sure you pack the key for the hut before leaving home, then check again that you packed the key.
  • Pack light. You have to carry all your belongings with you, including fuel (wood/ charcoal).
  • Don’t carry glass if you don’t have to. Zip loc bags are your friends, so are plastic wine bottles.
  • Pack trail food like two minute noodles, cous cous, pasta sauce, frozen veggies etc.
  • Pack plastic mugs and cups
  • Check if there is gas onsite for cooking and if there is a  pot and kettle (Agtertafelberg had gas, one large teapot, one small cooking pot and a small array of cutlery and crockery suitable for 2 pax but not more.
  • Print out the map, directions and all contact numbers.

Check out the Mountain Club of South Africa website and consider signing up.

If you’re interested in a similar mountain adventure with People Like Us Safaris or if you have any questions drop us a line at jamie@peoplelikeussafaris.com

 

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