|Brief summary of venue||The MCSA Jhb Section owns a small property and hut just within the 24,000 hectare Wolkberg Wilderness Area near Tzaneen, in 4 X 4 country. The hut is awesomely situated next to a stream with a small waterfall and pool and magnificent view of the so called Four Sisters, with Serala (2,050 metres) dominating the horizon. Visitors can base themselves comfortably at the hut, from where you can set out on day hikes and climbing excursions, though be warned - rock quality is poor and protection scarce.|
|Permit/ permission info||Bookings, including payment for visitor and vehicle permits as well as a day levy and hut fee must be made via the MCSA Johannesburg Section. Each MCSA member is allowed up to 4 non-member guests, who will pay the relevant non-member fees. Once the booking is made JHB admin will inform the Ranger-in-Charge of the visit.|
|Approximate travelling time from Johannesburg||It takes plus-minus 4 hours to Haenertsburg depending on traffic. However, add another hour onto your travel time as there has been significant road construction underway, including two stop and go’s between Polokwane and Haenertsburg. A good idea is to take the Tzaneen by-pass just before Polokwane to avoid the town traffic.|
|Parking information||Vehicles can be left at the bottom of the mountain at the Wilderness Area turn of. From there it is a LONG uphill to the hut, approximately 7 kilometres. It’s a nice walk but there is an easier way - driving to the hut, though this must be arranged with the MCSA before you visit, as the number of vehicles allowed up is restricted and permits need to be paid beforehand. If you do drive up, make sure to have a vehicle with high clearance. In the dry winter months, most bakkies get up, but in the wet summer months it is best to drive up in a 4X4 as the road can get very tricky when wet.|
|Info on walk in||If you park at the bottom of the mountain, the walk in to the hut is a steep, but scenic, 7 kilometres.|
|Accommodation||The MCSA’s Wolkberg hut is basic but wonderfully situated overlooking Serala and next to small stream and waterfall with small pool just below it. The hut has running water, and there’s also a long-drop toilet outside. While visitors can sleep inside the hut it is recommended that you camp outside and just use the hut’s kitchen and kuier space around the fire place.|
|Availability of water for drinking||In addition to running water in the hut, there is plenty of water on the mountain all year round; the water in the area is clean and drinkable.|
|Climbing route guide||Although guides do exist, they are not readily available. Ask for a copy among the older members of the club.|
|Climbing information||There are trad climbing routes on all four of the Sisters which range from grade 14 to 23/24. Unfortunately the rock is not of the best quality and pro is very sparse on some climbs. Not a lot of people climb here so the climbs are very dirty and overgrown.|
|Child friendly||The area is child friendly but some areas can be very dangerous, with steep drops. It’s strongly advised to not allow children to wander off alone as it is a mountain and the weather can quickly change.|
|Swimming||Yes, plenty of beautiful pools.|
|Camp fires||Camp-fires can be made in designated areas. These can be seen at most of the lunch spots. In winter no open fires are permitted as it is a very high fire risk area.|
|Other attractions||The area offers many day walks to waterfalls and stunning pools to swim in. Most of the walks are 3-5 hours there and back depending on how long you stay! There are also some longer and more strenuous walks for fitter visitors - through the Wonderwoud, the three tier waterfall and Thabina pools, which can take up to 8 hours. Alternatively, visitors can map out an overnight hike in the area. While there is a map in the hut it is recommended that you get your own from Google Earth or Maps SA. There is no official hiking guide available. The mountain has some game like Mountain Reedbuck, Duiker and Klipspringer. There is also Bush Pig in the area as well as the odd Leopard (very seldom seen). Knysna Turacos, Vultures, Buzzards, and Eagles are often seen.|
|Dangers||Thus far there have been no problems with safety of vehicles left at the bottom of the mountain, nor have there been any other safety issues; the people in the area are generally very friendly. Wolkberg is a big mountain and sudden weather changes are common, including thick mist rolling in and thunderstorms, so be prepared for all weather conditions.|
|Contacts||For availability, booking and payment: MCSA Jhb Section, Tel: 061 461 8259 (15h00 - 18h00 weekdays); Email:email@example.com.|
We are all aware how Public Health guidelines have urged the public to 'flatten the curve' of the COVID-19 virus, and our President's announcement of lockdown is a welcomed show of courageous leadership that South Africa needs at this time.
The Mountain Club of SA's Search and Rescue teams support this approach categorically.
WE URGE THE PUBLIC:
1) If engaging in some last minute pursuits this week, please engage in ultra-low-risk activities only. Please also respect closures already in place by SAN Parks and Ezemvelo.
2) Please respect the lockdown unconditionally.
Because it is the right thing to do.
...and accidents do happen, no matter how expert you think you may be.
The MCSA's search and rescue team make themselves available because we believe in the value of responsible enjoyment of the wilderness, and in supporting our outdoor colleagues and community.
Where life and limb is at stake, our members may still come to your aid.
HOWEVER, during this crisis:
- Healthcare infrastructure must be reserved for only the most critical, necessary cases.
- Your own exposure to the virus will be significantly higher while being rescued and receiving healthcare.
- Our search and rescue volunteers are not 'essential healthcare workers'. Don't be selfish!
If our members must respond to a call-out during the lockdown period, they invalidate their and their family's quarantine activities during this critical time and that may have an impact on their ability to return to work.
- S&R response may in fact be limited - our approach to incident management will be to coach and support self-rescue, or to send minimum-team responses.
We look forward to a time soon where we can all enjoy our wilderness and natural areas together, assured of the safety and well being of our loved ones at home.
MCSA Search & Rescue