Monday, 28 July 2014

Waterval Boven Adventure Weekend

A few weeks ago I realised I was stuck in a rut. Life had just become a seemingly endless tunnel of work and home and life. I was getting antsy and irritable and realised its time for some me-time. Luckily, I have a great friend Frans over at who was going through his own bout of cabin fever! A few emails back and forth, and an adventure weekend was born!

Imagine my surprise to find Adventure Central within an hour and a half's drive from my home town! Waterval Boven is a quaint, historic town situated along the Mpumalanga escarpment. The town, along with its sister town of Waterval Onder, was established in 1895 along the route of the Pretoria - Delgoa Bay railway line. Here, the railway line had to climb 208m over a distance of 7.5km to traverse the escarpment, necessitating the installation of a rack-railway through a steep curved tunnel. Its location among the crags and buttresses makes it a mecca for both national and international rock-climbers and adventure seekers. In fact, see all about it in Frans' movie about the town here.

So, back to the adventure! After arriving in the town, we took a hike down beside the old railway tunnel to the base of the waterfall. Frans knew the trail well, and dragging along someone who is clued up is definitely the way to go! Security guards have been employed at the start of the trail and it is recommended to pay them a tip for keeping an eye on your vehicle. The hike down was easy enough, even for a beginner like me, and in no time at all, we were above the Elands River. Frans is an avid white water kayaker and has run parts of the river before. He took great pride in showing me the gorgeous rapids as we approached. He also took great joy in the fact that I was so distracted by the rapids tumbling and gushing beneath us that I didn't notice the majestic, 75m Elands Waterfall until we were almost right below it!
Elands River Rapids

We had lunch on the rocks in the shade of this breathtaking waterfall, watching the water cascading down, contemplating how few people had sat where we sat, how many people had viewed what we viewed,  how many people just scurried on, rushing past this phenomenal sight, and how few had taken the time to leave the road, to take the winding trail, and to see life, and the waterfall, from such a different angle.
What a view for lunch!
After an amazing afternoon spent exploring the river and rocky outcrops along it's banks, we headed back into town. We booked into a delightful backpackers for the night and then headed out for supper. True to my new 'try new things' motto, I had fresh trout, and it was amazing! 
Getting some photography hints from a pro. This is part of the old railway station that was once the life force of this beautiful town.

I truly recommend a stay in a backpackers for the adventurous at heart! The place we stayed at was full of climbers and thrill seekers from all across the globe. Much to my surprise, we met a group of young rock-climbers from a well known South African university, who were out in Boven for a weekend on the crags. We stayed up late out on the balcony, drinking coffee, chatting and laughing, and enjoying the camaraderie that comes from being part of community of adrenaline junkies. 

Late that night, I crawled into my warm sleeping bag, exhausted after a day of fresh air and adventure, and excited to see what day 2 of my adventure weekend will hold!

Stay tuned for day 2 of this amazing adventure!

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