Monday, 22 December 2014

Mounting Mannetjiesberg

So – Anja wanted to do something special for her 35th and I'd already booked us in to the Lansrivier guesthouse on the edge of the Kammanassie as a break from catering and kids. Somewhere along the line someone suggests we climb Mannetjiesberg, the highest peak in the Kammanassie mountains and for most of the vicinity. Ok. Whey not, she's been doing lots on 'insanity' workouts and isn't in too bad shape.

We arrived at Lansrivier on Saturday afternoon after carbo-loading pizza at the Crackling Rosie in Uniondale. I'd chosen Lansrivier because at this time of year I knew it would be quiet despite the holiday madness unfolding around us, with SA on the move. The guesthouse is an off-grid old original farmhouse, and runs on gas and solar/battery lamps. It is very quaint, and isolated enough from the rest of the working farm to feel nice and secluded.

We took the first step of our 9-hour odyssey at around 8am. The first hour one climbs out of the Kammanassie river valley onto the oervlakte plateau, and its easy walking along the farm track towards the first quartzite hills of the mountains themselves. The Kammanassie is Table-mountain sandstone, an inselberg in the middle of the Klein Karoo, with a host of endemic flora as well as an endemic butterfly – the Kammanassie Blue.

After two hours one starts the zig-zag upwards into the fynbos covered foothills, leaving Aloes and Renosterbos behind as valleys become dominated by restios and proteas. The entire mountain burnt two years ago, and it was nice to see come of the Honeybush resprouting prolifically. We stopped frequently for water and snacks, using the flowers and views as an excuse to catch our breathe.

At 11am we headed off the jeep track for the start of the ascent to the top. Thankfully, with the vegetation still recovering from the fire, the going was relatively easy to what it would have been three years ago. Not long and we spotted our first Cape Rockjumpers. We were also lucky enough to see two Kammanassie endemic plants in flower: an orchid and Erica.

At precisely 1pm, after two hours of constant climbing we finally caught sight of the trig beacon marking the highest point of the Kammanassie mountain, Mannetjiesberg at 1956 meters above sea level. The views combined with altitude are breathtaking. Watching two Black Eagle's soaring below us was quite a change in perspective. The folded mountains were something else too – and made me realise god must be an origamist – he clearly had great fun folding these mountains. After half an hour on the top for snacks and sandwiches, it was time to for the cautious descent, and at 5pm we were back at the house and running a relaxing bath.

All in all it was a great day for the climb: sunny but with a fresh breeze.

Trip details: Lansrivier is run by Willie and Irene Woudberg and enquiries can be made at:

(s) 082 737 1883
(h) 044 745 1404
irenewoudberg at

Mannetjiesberg is in the Kammanassie Nature Reserve and you should alert the staff of our intent to enter the reserve by sending an email to:
kammfieldrangers at

We encountered a flock of >100 White Stork on the way

8AM fresh and ready to go

Anja looks down at the Lansrivier guesthouses, Mannetjiesberg is covered in cloud

Destination sighted!

Cows along the way were all friendly

That is where we are going!

"Oh my goodness its far!"

The 'Mannetjie' of Mannetjiesberg

At the top!

Amazing folded mountains

Endless views of the Klein Karoo

Damn, someone got there before us

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