The Kogelberg Trail is a circular, 24 km hiking trail in the Kogelberg Nature Reserve. Last weekend’s walk was fifth time that I have done it, as I remember. All the gradients are gradual, there is no exposure nor scrambles and the trail has few obstacles. It is deceptively long, however, and it does rise through 985 deceptive metres over its length. In summer you would have to ensure that you carry enough water, although the second half follows the Louws and Palmiet rivers, which are perennial.
It was a beautiful autumn day with a slight easterly breeze. We had to be at the CapeNature reception early or else, if you arrive too late they won’t allow you on this particular trail, given its length. You should allow yourself a good 8 to 10 hours. The path gradually climbs the gorge behind the eco chalets and enters Oudebosch, an old indigenous forest near the top of the kloof. Here you will find some old yellowwoods. Spend time to enjoy the verdant coolness and the gurgling stream. Soon after entering the fynbos again, the path splits, with the left branch leading to Leopard’s Gorge and ultimately the Harold Porter Botanical Garden. Take the right branch which gradually climbs a high valley until the Rooiels River comes into view. Slightly off to the left, across the river gorge, is another remnant patch of forest. I have always thought it is the (Wynand) Louwsbos (Louw’s forest), but after studying the map carefully it is apparent that Louwsbos is on the other side of Louws River, where the path along the jeep track veers east towards the Palmiet. On the plateau north of Platberg and south of the Louws River, the veld is young, the area having burned again about three years ago.
It is the walk along the jeep track to the confluence of the Louws and Palmiet rivers which feels so long. From the confluence you can either take the Palmiet Trail along the river, or the jeep track back to the Oudebosch reception. Do take the river trail. It is spectacular, and after a couple of kilometres you will find “The Beach”, which as the name suggests, is a secluded beach of blinding white sand that fronts a cold pool, fed by a swift rapid. You could imagine crocodiles alternately basking in the sun or suspended in the stream below the rapid waiting for prey. But that would have been about three hundred years ago. The megafauna and the forests are long gone. Instead, Kogelberg is now a botanical treasure, the jewel in the crown of the Cape’s floral kingdom.