Waaihoek is an accessible and popular peak in the Hex River mountain range, and it's popularity stems to no small degree to the fact that generations of Mountain and Ski Club students from the University of Cape Town
have made the pilgrimage up to Hoare Hut to experience the great outdoors, ski in winter and have a bit of a party.
The easiest access to Waaihoek peak is over the Zuurberg propery, which is owned by the University of Cape Town is administered by the UCT Mountain and Ski Club
. This property consists of about 8000 hectares of pristine mountain fynbos
, and includes a number of peaks and huts.
The Waaihoek summit is reached by means of a 3 to 5 hour non-technical hike up a fairly strenous (i.e. steep) path that gains about 1300m elevation from the trail head.
The Zuurberg property and Hoare Hut form a convenient base for other destinations, hikes and climbs in the Hex River mountain range, and for the spectacular kloofing trip down the Wit Els river.
The Zuurberg property is administered by the UCT Mountain and Ski Club
Access to the Zuurberg property and an overnight stay in any of the huts by non-members of UCT Mountain and Ski Club requires a permit, and this is obtained from the club's Zuurberg convenor.
Contact details for the Zuurberg convenor are on the UCT Mountain and Ski Club's
website under the list of current committee members.
A nominal daily fee is levied for the permit.
Relationships with the land-owners in the lower Vredehoek valley have been strained in the past and it is important to follow instructions from the Mountain and Ski Club regarding the crossing of these land-owners' properties, and to be courteous at all times.
There has also been a spate of break-ins into cars parked at the tradional trail-head in recent years. A better plan is to park lower down at the Vredehoek farm houses, by agreement with the farmer / farm manager.
Waaihoek and the Zuurberg property are accessed by road from the R43 between the towns of Worcester and Ceres.
Detailed directions to the trail head for the Zuurberg propery are supplied by the UCT Mountain and Ski club together with the permit (see above).
The following huts have been built on the Zuurberg property:
|Name ||Comments |
|Base Hut ||At the trail head and not in much use. This hut is locked. |
Altitude +/- 700m
|Middle Hut ||Emergency bivi shelter on the walk up.|
|Pell's Hut ||Small hut sleeping 6 to 8 people that is situated about 1km from Hoare Hut in a parallel valley. This hut is not locked. |
Altitude +/- 1680m
|Hoare Hut ||Main hut used by the UCT Mountain and Ski Club. Sleeps 20+ and features the famous "loo with a view". The hut is locked and a key is obtained together in conjection with a permit from the Zuurberg convenor. |
Altitude +/- 1760m
|Small hut built by Mike Mamacos and friends close to the Waaihoek summit (see below). Not in much use.|
Building of the Mamacos Hut
Joan Butler (joanie
) has contributed the following details regarding the building of the Mamacos / Peak Hut:
"Mike Mamacos was a prime mover in the building of the Peak Hut about 1952 and three friends Colin (Boot) Butler, Audrey Lanz (now Mamacos) and Margaret Anderson (now Groves) were all substantially involved in the designing and building of what is now known as Mamacos Hut. Various other people were at different times involved, including a farm hand from the valley below at one time. Margaret Anderson was also the first woman to climb Du Toit's Peak frontal."
Camping is only allowed on Zuurberg as specified by the permit conditions. See "Red Tape".
When To Climb
Hot in summer, snow is not uncommon in winter, great fun all year round. In summer there is hardly any rain, so in November to April water must be carried from the bottom.
Waaihoek is high enough to collect some significant snow-falls in winter, although these are not always very reliable.
In a good year when there's been a substantial dump of snow it is in fact possible to do some decent skiing. The novelty of being able to ski in sun-soaked Africa is probably half the attraction and an enthusiastic sense of adventure is required, since Waaihoek is by no stretch of the imagination a ski resort with groomed pistes or ski lifts.
In a not-so-good year expect to be dodging lots of rocks and grassy bits on the run down the hill.
The UCT Mountain and Ski club has built a drag-lift, which operates somewhat intermittently. More often than not getting to the top of the slope involves hauling self and skis to the top on foot.
The UCT Mountain and Ski club has hoarded a significant amount of skiing equipment at Hoare Hut (from archaic leather boots and wooden skis to more modern gear), but this is mainly for use by members.
See the South African Weather Service
website for weather forecasts and look up the conditions for the town of Worcester or the Breede River Valley.
The following maps covering the Waaihoek area are available from the Chief Directorate of Surveys and Mapping
, Rhodes Avenue, Mowbray, 7700, South Africa; (phone) +27 21 685 4070.
Topographic map: "Ceres", 1: 50000, Map number: 3319AD. Orthophoto map: "Pell's Hut", 1:10000, Map number 3319AD 22.