- 3 hours (10km round trip, also 4km option)
- Rocky but walkable terrain throughout – no scrambling
- Partly shaded
- Plenty water to drink
- Permit needed
- No dogs allowed
Situated just outside the tranquil, picturesque inland town of Tulbagh, The Murludi hiking trail snakes its way through and above the peaceful farmlands to the lower foothills of the breath-taking Witzenberg Mountains, which form an impressive backdrop throughout the hike. Meandering through fynbos dotted with bright, colourful fauna, there is a 4km or 10km trail to conquer, both which criss-cross a stream via footbridges. The terrain is all walkable, with no scrambling, made up mostly of rocky pathways, slight inclines, natural and man-made steps and sandy single and double jeep tracks.
The sleepy town of Tulbagh lies 130km North East of Cape Town, with the Murludi hiking trails a further 12km north of the town’s centre. Your first port of call will be to locate the town’s Tourism Office on 4 Church Street (Tel: 023 2301348) to purchase a permit for the hike (2017 rate: R25 per adult), where you will be given a map of the hike, as well as directions to the start. The map is fairly comprehensive, and will guide you out the town along Van der Stel Street, which then becomes Winterhoek Road, before sliding right onto Sterkstroom Road and a first right onto Misqund Road and left for the last two kilometres to the shaded parking on the Murludi Farm (it may sound confusing, but is all very clear on the map).
The trail begins on a sandy path through the orchards of the Murludi Farm, with trees of varying fruits visible which are harvested and packaged as dried fruit. With orchards on one side, thick bush on the other and the Witzenberg Mountains towering all around, the trail offers a breath-taking and picturesque photo opportunity every few steps.
The sandy trail through the orchards then becomes a single jeep track, complete with a number of boulders and rocky terrain to navigate. The pathway is clearly distinguishable, with hiking signs (pictured) as well as painted footsteps (white=walking trail; yellow= be careful; blue = water) guiding you along the way. The gradient is relatively flat, with the rising gradient walkable for hikers of all ages.
Roughly two kilometres in, after an elevation gain of 140m, you will come across a clear sign stating “Elsbos Route” to the left – the 10km route, or “River Route” – the 4km option – to the right. The Elsbos Route makes a figure of eight, and having already climbed the bottom left semi-circle of the figure 8, the left turn then intersects the middle and continues up the top right of the proverbial figure 8, before curving left and coming back down to the very intersection where the sign post (below) is situated.
Taking the left upward path on the Elsbos Route, the trail gently climbs through the fynbos region and up into the lower foothills of the mountains. Every so often the path criss-crosses a gentle stream via wooden bridges that flows steadily down towards the farm, with the water fresh, clear and cool to drink.
Take note of the beautiful flora along the path, while you may even be lucky enough to see the likes of duikers, grysbuck or klipspringers in the nearby vegetation.
Never steep enough to need to scramble, the route – consisting mainly of single track sand, boulders, man-made and natural steps and bridges –climbs gradually to its highest point at 760m, 400m from where you would have parked your car. The painted footsteps and signs clearly mark the path, but don’t be confused by the white arrows painted on the rocks (near points 11, 12 and 13 on the map) – these are to direct your line of vision to the beautiful view, and not for your to create your own path!
The path gradually descends down the top left semi-circle side of the figure 8, again along the fence on the left hand side of the farm, before eventually meeting up at the signpost marking the “Elsbos Route” or “River Route” trails.
The now sandy path leads to a historical water furrow, before a sharp right turn down man-made steps cut into the bank snakes its way through dense brush – the Kliphout forest, as described on the map – before making its way through Acorn hedge (number 5 on the map) for the final 1.5 kilometres of the hike.
A few twists and turns later, one final skip across the stream will take you back to your car from the opposite end of the parking lot to mark your return to the start.
- The area is very quiet and not very popular, so try tackle this hike as a group rather than on your own.
- Keep your permit on you at all times, should authorities be on hand to check.
- Watch your footing along the rocky pathway, which can be slippery when wet.