One water bottle. That should be enough. Two liters sounds a little excessive. Instead of enjoying the formal dance I was attending, I was discussing/arguing about the amount of water needed to reach the summit of Twaalfuurkop – the most challenging peak in Marloth Nature Reserve – that I was hiking the next morning. Because of my cycling background I am weight obsessed. Lighter = better = faster = logical. But according to the hikers at the table my arguments made no sense. I was planning on taking one water bottle (750ml) and refilling along the way if needed. The hikers were suggesting I take at least 2 liters. That’s three water bottles. I decided to take two (1500ml). Mental Note: when you go hiking and experienced hikers give advice – take it.
Local accommodation websites usually start with “Swellendam is the third oldest town in South Africa”. They should start with “Swellendam has an INCREDIBLE mountain. One of the most beautiful you will ever see”. I had climbed Twaalfuurkop once before when I was 16 and could not remember it as being too hard. So when a teacher at one of the local schools asked if I would join the hike to chaperon the grade 7’s, I was very excited to go along.
How fast you will climb Twaalfuurkop depends on your fitness and experience but in both cases I would suggest that you start at sunrise. Especially in the summer. You will not be hiking in the shade at all. We started our hike just before 5am. When you leave this early, you should remember to fill in a self-issue permit at the Marloth Main Office for safety reasons. The hike started out with laughter and excitement in perfect weather conditions.
This hike is the same as Duiwelsbos in the sense that there are no flats. You go up. Then you come down. Only difference is that ascending Twaalfuurkop is like repeating Duiwelsbos 5 times. 250m of climbing vs 1200m. After about 2hours of climbing the laughter and banter were replaced with sweat, heavy breathing and silence. Or at least for the grownups. When I was told we would be hiking with grade 7’s I imagined kids addicted to McDonalds and video games. The sugar-addicted youth I read about. But these grade 7’s were having no problem leaving the chaperones behind. I had the route on my cell phone and were frequently asked to check “Are we there yet”, by the grown-ups and teachers – not the kids.
When ascending Twaalfuurkop you are actually climbing Kwartvoortwaalfuurkop and after reaching the top you cross over the “venster” to Twaalfuurkop. While you are climbing, Elfuurkop will be to your right. The peaks are from east to west: Tienuurkop, Elfuurkop, Twaalfuurkop en Eenuurkop. At a certain point Twaalfuurkop seems to be really close, in reality you still have 1-1.5hours of climbing left. This is also the point where I realized that 2 water bottles would not be enough for the entire hike. There are not a lot of spots where you can fill up your water bottle. I estimate that the spots where you can fill up your water bottle are located in the bottom third of the mountain.
But after all the sweating and suffering you reach the top – and the sense of accomplishment and views are more than worth it. My group of grown-ups almost burst out into spontaneous hugging as if we had completed the Comrades Marathon. On clear days you can see all the way to the ocean. After about 30-40 minutes of resting and enjoying the views we started with the descent. At this point I shamelessly pretended to hike slower in order to assist two of the grownup ladies. In reality I knew them well enough to know that they would reward me by sharing their leftover water and dates. Bless them :) At the Marloth Main Office the grown-ups were rewarded with ice cold beer. And a second beer.
Hiking Twaalfuurkop should be on everyone’s bucket list and I am already looking forward to next year’s hike. And like any experienced hiker I will be taking at least 2 liters of water along for the hike.
Started: 5:00am (total time = 0h00min)
Reach summit: 8:40am (total time = 3h40min)
Start descent: 9:10am (total time = 4h10min)
Back at Marloth Office: 12:03 (total time = 7h03min)
More info: link