Buffelsrivier/Moordenaarskaroo Hiking Trail - Slackpacking

Moordenaarskaroo | Buffelsrivier Hiking Trail
7-day hike in die enigmatic Buffels River through the heart of the Moordenaarskaroo

“Spend time in the wilderness – places where landscape and sky overwhelm you – and you start to change. In the city you’re caught in a rat race and you’re fighting to maintain ego. But in the wilderness you can lose your sense of self. You start realising that you are just a tiny cog in an enormously complex system. Your perspective changes and you identify less with your little ego and your little drama. That’s the inner journey. But of course your literal journey brings other kinds of discovery. Spend enough time in the wilderness and, in addition to the landscape and scenery, you might find old artefacts, or come across caves covered in paintings. You might find that, even though you have no knowledge of what it’s all about, you have a strong emotional reaction to the wide open spaces we call wilderness.” – Craig Foster (My heart stands in the hill, 2005)

On this 7-day hike you walk in the Karoo’s own canyon, the Buffels River, as it meanders through desolate yet unique terrain in the Moordenaarskaroo. Experience the fauna, flora, geology and history of this unspoilt area.The Moordenaarskaroo is situated between Laingsburg, Merweville and Sutherland, forming a basin for the catchment area of the Buffels River. On 25 January 1981 the Buffels River caused one of the biggest natural disasters in South African history, the Laingsburg Flood. The flood was the direct result of heavy rains in the Moordenaarskaroo.

The hike starts at 700m above sea level outside Laingsburg and ends at 1712m on top of the Komsberg south of Sutherland, where the river originates, with views as far as the Cederberg and Klein Roggeveld. The hike averages 16km/day in the (mostly) dry riverbed and/or the veld, with a total distance of around 94km.

Hikers only carry a daypack with snacks and drinks. All other camping gear and belongings are transported daily to the next overnight spot. Breakfast, light packed lunch and sumptuous suppers around a campfire are guaranteed. And the intense silence and stars of the Karoo…

Day 1 | 12,6km The hike starts on the Laingsburg/Sutherland dirt road from which hikers walk 12,6km into the Moordenaarskaroo to the first camping site on the farm in view of one of the many ‘blue cliffs’ of the Buffels River.

Day 2 | 17km First day in the riverbed with magnificent sandstone and slate cliffs, black eagles, rock art and ruins. We overnight in the riverbed.. 

Day 3 | 18km The further the route, the wider the landscape. Days 3 & 4 expose the seemingly barren landscape and the forces of nature. The terrain alternates between riverbed, gravel road and rugged veldt.

Day 4 16km The terrain is similar to days 2 and 3, but on this night, we camp in style with warm showers (with an enormous donkey!) and flush toilets.

Day 5 | 21.4km The route follows the riverbed of one of the main feeding rivers of the Buffels River and the terrain alternates between dense vegetation, dongas and bedrock. The first half of the route is in the riverbed, with the second half of the route following a desolate jeep track. We camp at the foot of the Komsberg at a stone house overlooking history…

Day 6 | 12km Hikers ascend an extraordinary kloof to the top of the Komsberg at 1712m above sea level. Magnificent views to the western part of the Moordenaarskaroo the eastern side of the Klein-Roggeveld and SALT’s dome.. The same route is taken back down, where we sleep one more night.

Day 7Breakfast; everybody leaves for Laingsburg. 

Quick facts
Moordenaarskaroo, between Laingsburg and Sutherland
3 - 9 September 2022
24 - 30 September 2022

Cost: R5600 p/p

safe parking for vehicles on a farm outside Laingsburg, all meals, drinking water, transport of camping gear/belongings

Hikers bring:
tent, mattress, sleeping bag, camping chair, snacks, extra drinks

Level of fitness required: The hike is challenging; be as fit as for the Fish River Canyon hike
Difficulty of hike: the terrain mostly consists of dry riverbed with thick soft/hard sand, rocks and rock slabs; minimal gravel road; veldt
We guarantee: stars, silence, campfire, comfort food, rough cliffs, spectacular scenery and views
We underwrite the principles of the Leave-no-trace movement:
• hike and camp on solid earth
• remove waste / carry along
• no disturbance to the environment
• small, contained campfires
• respect the wildlife