The Cannibal hike
Hike Overview: The Cannibal Hike
This breathtaking 2 day hike has something for everyone – a huge overnight cave, bushman paintings, waterfalls, unbeatable sunsets and a serious climb to the top of Mushroom Rock. It is a great option to do with a big group of friends.
Go Outside Rating: ****
Type: 2 day overnight trail
Slack packing: Yes! (Must be organized in advance)
Level: Moderate, suitable for hikers of all levels
Total distance: Day 1: 9 km’s Day 2: 7 km’s (with an optional 2km detour to Mushroom Rock)
Location: Clarens, Freestate
Accommodation: An open air cave (is there anything better!?)
Ablutions: 2 flush toilets and cold showers at the overnight cave
Path Markings: Good, the route is clearly marked
Facilities: Mattresses are provided in the cave as well as limited fire wood and 2 tables
Access Road: Paved, great condition and easy to find
Parking: Yes, secure uncovered parking
Cell Reception: Yes
Price: R200-R300 per person
More Overnight Trails:
THE CANNIBAL HIKE
The Cannibal Hike is situated on St Fort Farm, 5km’s from Clarens in the Eastern Freestate. There are a number of shorter trail options on the farm but the 2 day Cannibal Hike is by far the best as a night in the huge cave is an unforgettable and unique experience. Legend has it that the caves and cliffs found along this spectacular route were once home to cannibals. In the 1800s, clans that were persecuted by the Zulu King Shaka fled to the area and turned to cannibalism to survive – at least that’s the cave campfire story…
Other highlights along the route include Batwing Falls and Mushroom Rock.
Day 1 (9km’s)
The first days hike to the cave is 9km’s and should take 4 – 5 hours. It starts with a relatively steep ascent, heading away from Mushroom Rock which is visible from the parking lot. The majority of the route is relatively easy and should be manageable for all levels of hikers. The landscape changes frequently, with many beautiful panoramic views, cliffs and sandstone formations to see along the way.
Arriving at the Cave is a surprise as you can’t see it until the very last moment – you come around a corner and suddenly, there it is. The large size of the cave and its picturesque location are a wonderful geographic coincidence and any aches or pains from the days hike are soon forgotten. (Especially if you opted for the slack packing option as your cooler bag will be waiting for you!)
From the cave there are a few little paths that you can explore and some San rock art to admire, but we recommend choosing a spot in the cave, lighting a fire, pouring a drink and settling in to watch the sun set, as the view from the cave is unbeatable.
There are 2 cold showers, 2 flush toilets and fresh water a short distance from the cave. This is also where the mattresses are stored and where your slack packing items will be kept. In the cave there are 2 log benches, 2 steel tables and a small pile of wood. There is no electricity.
We recommend organising a few extra bags of wood for the cave, especially in winter or if you are going to be a large group. The cave offers excellent protection against the elements, but it does still get cold and dark quickly.
Day 2 (7 – 9 km’s)
Shortly after leaving the Cave on day 2, there is a steep and slippery incline. This sets the tone for the day ahead, which holds more obstacles and climbs than the first day. The hike is 7km’s however this excludes the optional detour to Mushroom Rock, which adds an additional 2km to the route.
The route passes beautiful streams, farm ruins and constantly changing scenic wonders but the real highlights of day 2 are found on the detour route to Mushroom Rock. (After 2 days of hiking and a night outside you may feel tempted to skip the detour – DONT GIVE IN, the few extra kilometres are worth it, trust us!)
The detour route is steep. You hike up along the ridge of the mountain, slowly making your way to Mushroom Rock – which is much higher than it looks. The last obstacle is a long steel ladder which leads you up the final stretch – to the Mushroom.
Although tough in some areas, the route is suitable for hikers of all levels – and the promise of a cold beer from the Clarens Brewery should be enough to get you through the last stretch of day 2, which is quick and flat once you come down from Mushroom Rock.
Overnight hikers’ accommodation is available on St Fort Farm. This can be used to add an extra night to your hike which is a great option if you want to drive on Friday afternoon and start the hike early on Saturday morning. The hiker’s accommodation has electricity and hot water.
The cave cannot be booked exclusively unless you are a group of more than 30. The cave is big enough to accommodate a number of groups comfortably, but if you do not want to share we recommend hiking during the week.
Slack packing and additional wood for the cave should be organised in advance.