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Kloofing Suicide Gorge
Dare to hike, swim and jump this thrilling waterway
Last updated: Tuesday, 1 February, 2022
Suicide Gorge is a full-day, wet-hike (18km, 9 to 12 hours), an outdoor adventure in the scenic Boland Mountains. It's ideal for summer, a water wonderland with spectacular canyon scenery. You’ll walk, swim and jump off cliffs ranging from 3 to 20 metres high, into the freshwater rock pools below. For those who love thrill and adrenaline, this is an awesome adventure.
Get a waterproof camera and capture great shots. Image: Jamie-Lee Day, @autumnpressblog
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE HIKE
There is good signage; always hike in the direction Suicide Gorge. You’ll walk through a beautiful forest and mountain fynbos before tackling the exhilarating gorge. Follow the course of the river to a junction pool by boulder-hopping, swimming, hiking and leaping into pools from heights of 3 to 20 metres.
Follow the Suicide Gorge sign for an exhilirating adventure. Image: @thedadlibrary
It’s possible to avoid the early jumps and swims by scrambling around the ever-present water hazards, but don’t miss out on the fun – plus it’s worth getting wet to cool down. Once you‘re wet you’ll pretty much stay that way. From now on it will be jumping and swimming, on repeat. You’ll also slide down moss-covered rock slides into the pools.
Slide down moss-covered rock slides – it’s a huge amount of fun. Image: @thedadlibrary
EXPERIENCE THE ADRENALINE RUSH
The river is a fast-flowing mass of tannin-coloured water, fresh and cool to the taste and refreshing to swim in. There are waterfalls and ancient rock formations shaped by thousands of years of the free-flowing river. A few jumps, swims, rock scrambles, slips and slides later and you’ll reach the “compulsory” high jump. Remember, once in, the only way you're going to get out of this section of the Riviersonderend Mountains is via some gravity-defying jumps.
Go with friends who will motivate and encourage you. Image: Jamie-Lee Day, @autumnpressblog
It’s important that you are fit and an experienced hiker before taking on this hike. It’s also advised to go with someone who has done it before, preferably a guide. The route can be dangerous in extreme weather conditions.
Find a trusted and experienced guide to lead you. Image: @thedadlibrary
GET INTO COURAGE MODE
Suicide Gorge is the kind of hike that tests you physically and mentally - it will force you to be courageous. You have to love the thrill and adrenaline that comes with hiking and jumping big heights. When standing on a cliff and 20m below you is a rock pool, you have no choice but to be courageous. A piece of advice Chad Nathan (travel photographer and filmmaker) gave is don’t hesitate. Once you decide to jump, you have to commit fully to the jump.
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Build courage and experience some thrilling jumps. Image: @thecapetownlocal
DO IT WITH A GROUP OF GOOD FRIENDS
According to Chad, it’s quite an emotional experience. It not only builds courage but is a bonding experience and builds camaraderie amongst friends. The truth is, once you are out there, you need each other. You need people who will motivate and encourage you when you’re at your most tired and scared. According to Tauriq (Pro mountain guide), the risk seems great before the jump but the reward after the jump is greater. The euphoria you feel after landing in the water is unbeatable.
The views from the pools are as impressive as they are from above. Image: @nicole.skwara
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KNOW
The route is open from 1 November to 30 April; for reservations (permits) call 021 483 2949; excursions on Saturdays and Sundays must be booked a month in advance. A shorter booking period is allowed for weekday excursions. Group size: five groups of six people allowed over weekends; groups of 12 to 15 allowed on weekdays. The gate opens at 6am; you will not be allowed to start your hike after 9am.
WHAT TO BRING
Money for the permit (R400).
Good, lightweight hiking shoes.
Swimsuit, a quick drying t-shirt and swimming shorts. Cotton is not advised. Remember, this is a wet hike.
Wetsuit if you get cold quickly.
A change of clothes to leave in the car.
Lunch and energy snacks in sealed bags.This hike requires energy.
A proper dry bag is highly recommended, bearing in mind that everything will get wet.
Waterproof sunblock. There are patches of shade for you to rest in but the majority of the walk is exposed. Start the hike early.
Waterproof camera. The views are incredible and you might want your friends taking pictures of you doing the jumps and the other way around.
HOW TO GET TO THERE
Suicide Gorge lies in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve (70 000 ha), 90km south-east of Cape Town. The entrance is at Nuweberg, 11km from Grabouw on the R321.
From Cape Town take the N2.
Turn left at the Orchard Farm Stall in Grabouw.
Turn left again at the Villiersdorp junction.
WHEN + WHERE TO GO
Suicide Gorge is open: Monday to Sundays, 6am to 7pm, 1 November to 30 April
Find it: Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, 90km south-east of Cape Town. The entrance is at Nuweberg, 11km from Grabouw on the R321
Reserve a permit: 021 483 0190, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Katleho Mohale
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