Border Outdoor – Amatola Hiking Reports

The BOAA is a hiking (backpacking) club based in East London, South Africa. The aim of the association is to foster and encourage outdoor adventure and activities, and to interact with other persons, bodies, and institutions which will enhance the activities of the association.
The club was started by Anthony Britton in February 1978. He saw a need for fellow hikers to join together by means of a hiking club, and so the BOAA was established. The first President was Bob Odell and first Chairman was A.Britton.
The first recorded minutes were done by Mrs E.Goodwin on the 12 April 1979 at the Department of Sport & Recreation New Government Building in Buffalo Street, East London.
By the 12th May 1979 the club officially had 16 members. The BOAA has grown from strength to strength to reach +- 500 members and we have since celebrated our twenty first year in 1999.
Amatola Hiking Reports :

What an experience! The forests and waterfalls were magnificent and the feeling of hiking under a never ending canopy of branches and leaves was at times eerie but exhilarating. It was a pity that more time could not be spend savouring the sight of enormous yellowwood trunks and imagining what stories these survivors could tell. The beautiful waterfalls, all with clear water, cascading between curtains of green ferns and luxuriant growth could have kept one spell bound for hours on end, but the need to reach the next hut interfered; Gwili-Gwili, Dontsa, Cata, Mnyameni and Zingcuka. Gwili-Gwili with flower arrangement and message thanks to Dave’s two lady friends. Dontsa with fireplaces and shower (very cold) to welcome us after a hard cold windy wet day’s hiking. Cata with hot shower cleared away remaining mud and sweat. Took chance to wash wet clothing and dry on a home made washing line around the donkey (water heating device). Mnyameni, my favourite (despite much litter – thank you, Mark, for clearing up), situated below the mountain with fabulous forest views at sunrise. Zingcuka, memories of owls calling and labeled trees (would have been appreciated at the beginning of the hike) and a visit to the local shebeen for ice cold beer still remain. The last haul to Hogsback via waterfalls and climbing Hogs Peak was a long dry hot journey. Thanks to Mark (the Tormentor), Evan (the Hungry One or Big Red) and to our leader Dave (who introduced McKenzies). Good luck to Patrick who is on his way to Ozzie. Finally to B.O.A.A. Thank you and keep up the good work.

8 June – First Day
After a well planned shuttling of vehicles, we set trail just after 9:00 Saturday morning. The trail was quite stiff for the first day, especially with our bags being so heavy, but once up Mount Kempt was in sight the spirits were up and not long afterwards we were relaxed around a warm fire and interesting company. KEVIN
10 June – Dontsa to Cata
After a stiff climb through a forest gorge, past numerous steams and two scenic waterfalls, we arrived on a plateau. We saw Mount Kempt, from which we came on day one, clearly outlined in the sky, then the Kologha mountain and down below, Sandile Dam. Walking further along we saw Cata Dam. Climbing to the beacon was an even stiffer event, surrounded by only grassland. The view just beyond the beacon was awe-inspiring – a high pined-covered mountain with steep flanks. The descent in the midday sun brought out suntan lotion. The forest below was magically cool and lunch was enjoyed. A four km walk on gravel was next and then the waterfall section to the three very comfortable huts.
12 June – Mnyameni to Zingcuka
By eight o’clock everybody was on the the trail pumping the legs up the valley to reach the contour path. It was cold and misty and we left the Mnyameni hut with mixed feelings; anticipating a cold, wet and misty walk to Zingcuka judged by the weather forecast given to us the previous afternoon by Rob Spiers, and the anticipation of a hot shower at Zingcuka (the first in four days) and the hidden cache of beers, cool drinks and other delights waiting for us. However, as the day progressed, the weather improved, and eventually it turned out to be one of the warmest days on the trail. That evening everybody was in festive mood after a hot shower and more than enough beer, wine and cool drinks. The exception was Dave who picked up a cold and went to bed early without adding another new word to our hiking vocabulary. The Amatola Hiking Trail still features as one of best hiking trails in my hiking experience. Please do it again next year, Dave!.
13 June – Zingcuka to Hogsback
Some of us did the waterfall section and the rest went on to the Hogs climb, with its beautiful views from up there. Like all good things in life, the hike was over. Thinking back, we had six days of beautiful weather and great company. Thanks to the hikers from the other clubs for joining us on this great hike. A big thank you to Bertie, Debbie Rumney and Rob Spiers for helping with the shuttle.

The Amatola Hiking Trail is one one the most demanding trails in Southern Africa, especially when it wet and cold! We set off from the Maden Dam through the Pirie indigenous forest accompanied by Madelaine, Amanda and Riaan, who did the weekend Gwili-Gwili with us. So far so good, except that the Gwili-Gwili hut was double booked and some of us had to sleep two to a mattress! The next day we bade farewell to our weekend companions and proceeded along trails intersecting indigenous forest and pine plantations to the Dontsa hut. This unique hut is perched near the edge of a spectacular waterfall and river pool. We arrived there just in time before the rains came down. There is a lovely open fireplace and we spent a relaxed and warm happy hour and night! We had a big thunderstorm that night and in the morning we set off in the pouring rain which continued all day. We tried to absorb the beauty of the Keiskamma Valley and Geju peak whilst slipping and sliding in the mud, until we arrived at Cata huts. Boy, these huts are COLD!! The next morning it was still raining and we tackled Geju with it’s stunning views. Then we descended into the Mnyameni Gorge, still slipping and sliding. We were all full of mud, which regularly got washed off walking through the waterfalls and streams. some waist deep! By midday it finally stopped raining but was still bitterly cold. We were quite comfortable in the Mnyameni hut but were not able to make a fire due to the rain which had started again. As we left Mnyameni the next day we passed many perfect waterfalls and swimming pools but could not stop for long due to the cold. Zingcuka forest is full of Lemonwood trees and strange fungi. Zingcuka hut was absolutely luxurious. Dave had the fire going in no time so we all enjoyed a hot shower! Rinus and Margie came to welcome us with a bottle of wine. Some were already in bed and missed the treat! The next day only four of us climbed Hogsback and we were rewarded with majestic views and a pleasant walk down to the Hogsback village. The trail is supposed to be 105 km but Dave assured us we walked 130. It actually felt more like 200!. I will never forget this hike but, if I do it again, I will do it in SUMMER!. October in the mountains is still winter!. Thanks to Dave we never got lost, he’s done it 17 times already and is really the perfect leader for this hike. Thanks to everyone for great companionship!.