The Kingsriver Kloof Trail, view into the mountains

The Kingsriver Kloof Trail provides a gentle hike, starting at the guest house, curling up the beautiful, water-eroded ravine, past rock pools, waterfalls and large caves, and opening out to one of the largest dams in the area. It is ideal for nature watching or a picnic.

Kingsriver Wine Estate Guesthouse | 023 625 1040
Kingsriver Wine Estate

The trail's ancient Bushman caves are easily accessible, and around the cave and the kloof may be found clay potsherds, early stone age hand axes and lithic flakes. Klipspringer, cape clawless otter, steenbok, baboons, fish eagles and black eagles may be seen, and leopards and rooikat (aka caracal or desert lynx) are there for the lucky few.

A Humbling Walk on the Wild Side – with Dr Andrew Baxter

Mountaineer, CEO of Cape Storm Outdoor Apparel, renowned archaeologist and expert in paleoecology [ecology that deals with the interaction between ancient organisms and their environment] and environmental change and conservation biology – this is Dr Andrew Baxter, who led the hike through the Koningsrivier kloof, where the river ran for many millions of years before being dammed for agricultural purposes in 1964.

My walk through the Kloof Trail on KingsRiver Estate proved to be as fascinating as I had anticipated. With water being the essence of all life it is only natural that this river became a rich source of sustenance for the San people who would have been the first of the settlers along its banks, trapping the smaller animals of the area which came down to drink from the river and harvesting the wild bulbs and berries. They later became culturally integrated with the pastoral Khoikhoi as they migrated from the south-west through the rugged terrain of the Little Karoo, seeking food and water for their herds.

This gentle walk leads past ancient Bushman caves (easily accessible) and a Stone Age workshop etched into the prehistoric rock face of this exceptionally beautiful water-eroded terrain reveals evidence of Later Stone Age lithics as well as clay potsherds from the area proximal to the cave. There also appear to be Early Stone Age hand axes in river cuttings. Some of these are forged from the stone found in the area but there is also evidence of tools which have been brought in from other regions where the stone is harder and would then have been used to cut into the indigenous rock in order to create these artefacts. As the river levels rose and fell, archaeological deposits from different settlements and ages have been left in the riverbed.

The incredible excitement of finding these ancient relics (which becomes quite easy when you know what you’re actually looking for!) was enhanced by Andrew’s expertise which allowed things like determining where the stone was quarried, when the stone was worked, what kind of technology was used to make the stone tool, and what evidence there is of the tool's use. Andrew also insists that there are also lithics on the koppie behind the farm, where the Kleinberg Trail weaves along the top of the mountain, with a view over McGregor that rivals no other, and also within several sites in the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve, which borders the estate.

The trick here is not to get obsessive only with what’s on the ground around you and remember to look up from time to time. The surrounding rugged rock face is not only breathtakingly beautiful, but also rich in plant and animal life indigenous to this area – steenbok, klipspringer, Cape clawless otter and baboon keep a close watch on you from the rocky ridges. Along the way you will follow rock pools to the waterfalls, spot the pairs of Black- and Fish Eagles and hear their cries which have echoed in this crevasse since time immemorial. It is really difficult not to be awe-struck by the monolithic rock structures that have existed for millennia and will probably be around long after mankind, as we know it, ceases to exist. A truly humbling moment.