We returned to an extremely quiet but stunning Giant’s Castle for a hike on Sunday, our first since a walk at Cathedral Peak a couple days before lockdown was instituted. The gates were open when we arrived at 8am and, we were informed at the gate that they would close at 3pm.
After signing the mountain register at the office, which was about to open, we went to park at the picnic area preparing for our walk along the Bannerman’s Hut contour route. The first hour of this route goes upwards pretty quickly and puts a bit of a shock in the legs before it levels out and undulates below the mountains. It’s a spectacular route, if lacking somewhat in features like forests, dams and water features.
Social distancing was pretty easy: we wore our masks at the gates and office area and thereafter saw very few people, stepping well off the path as two couples passed us on our way back to camp.
There were four cars parked at the picnic area, a clear sign that not too many people are up to speed yet that a day out in the park is allowed and a nice day trip option. One family had set up properly with a gazebo and camping chairs for a picnic and a long day out, something I definitely plan on emulating in future.
One interesting point. I have walked at Giant’s a number of times and usually see the odd antelope and a few birds of prey circling overhead. Sometimes I see baboons there. On this occasion we saw eland three separate times and reedbuck twice. We saw three troops of baboons and secretary birds. So, in my opinion, as the people have made themselves scarce due to Covid restrictions, the animals have returned.
It was a real thrill to see eland up and close and the reedbuck gave us a show as they took fright and charged away, not stopping until they’d bolted far up a hill in the distance.
It costs R45 per person to get into the reserve for a day visit.
PS. The early hours are, for me, the best part of the day to get a walk in. We drove from Notties, via the Kamberg Rd, which took about 90 minutes (potholes slow you down). Get set for some fun weather, Rosetta was -5C when we drove through. Kamberg store was -6C and near Giant’s was about -3C when we arrived.