Waterval Boven Mostly Sport climbing700 routes in crag
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Probably Africa's best sport climbing destination with more than 600 routes on bullet-hard quarzite surrounded by wooded valleys full of animal and plant life.
Welcome to Boven! If you are reading this, there is a good chance you are at Africa‟s best sport climbing destination! Or at the very least, you are considering making a trip here. Boven has over 600 sport climbs ranging from grade 8 to 34 (French grade 4 to 8c), and plenty of excellent trad climbing too. The rock is bullet-hard quartzite and the climbs are typically vertical to gently overhanging with the odd overlap. Technical endurance climbing is the predominant style and precise footwork and finger strength will go far! The crags give views over remote wooded valleys and hills rich with animal and plant-life; the bases of the climbs are flat and shady, the crags are quiet and the walk- ins are a breeze. It is one of the few climbing areas in the world where weather is good for climbing almost all year round. Rest-day activities include game viewing in the world famous Kruger National Park, or just basking I the African sun. What more can we say…..the grass really IS greener here.
Best is by car but see bus info below. There is actually no need at all to venture into Johannesburg itself (not that it‟s such a bad place, some people love it!). From Johannesburg airport (O R Tambo International) take the R21 south for a few kilometers then the N12 east towards Witbank, which becomes the N4. These are excellent highways and within two hours (several kilometers after the second toll gate) the turn-off to Waterval Boven is reached on the right. Note: the highway splits into two
1.5 kilometres after the second toll gate. Both are still signed N4 Nelspruit, but only one of them passes Boven! Keep straight, don‟t take the left fork, many first time visitors make the mistake of going left which leads in completely the wrong direction!
The expensive toll gate just before Boven can be fairly easily avoided by turning off (right) at Machadodorp, approximately 15 kilometres before Boven. Drive into Machadodorp then take the tar road towards Badplaas (signed) for approx 13 kms, then turn left towards „Nkmomati Mine‟. After 3.2 kms turn left onto a gravel road signed Waterval Boven. Keep on this, keeping left at the fork at 6.5 kms, the road leads past the Tranquilitas Adventure farm and the Wonderland crags and after another 8 kilometres or so into Boven town, about 10-15 minutes later than if you had gone through the toll. If it‟s been raining very heavily this road can be unpassable in a normal car, however it dries very quickly (within a few hours).
Once in Boven, Roc „n Rope Adventures is easily found, on the opposite corner is the Shamrock Arms pub. Stop in and say “howzit” and get directions, either to the Climbers‟ Lodge or to Tranquilitas. While in town pick up some beer and some cheap (but excellent) steak and boerewors from the butcher (Slaghuis), be sure to ask for the climbers‟ discount.
There are a couple of shuttle-bus services that leave/return to Joburg once a day. At the time of writing „Jereh‟ will drop you off at roc and rope. Contact them on 082 378 3614; they will soon have a website. The other service is the Lowveld Link
Where to stay
There is a great climbers‟ lodge in town which is a good base if you are alone as the camping can be pretty lonely during weekdays. Dorm beds and inexpensive double rooms are available. There are normally a handful of road-tripping foreigners around and the odd local. Roc n‟ Rope Adventures (www.rocrope.com) (+27 (0) 13 257 0363)
own the lodge and they are extremely helpful (Gustav wrote the 2004 Guidebook so he knows his way around the crags!).
Or, if you want to stay up in the hills, 5 minutes walk from the crags you can stay at Tranquilitas Adventure Farm (www.tranquilitas.com). It must be one of the most pleasant climber campsites on the planet! Some of the best crags at Boven are not more than a 5 to 10 minutes walk; there is a swimming pool, hot showers, fridges and great fire sites. Mornings are spent drinking coffee and relaxing on the lawns until 11-ish (when the crags go into shade) and climbers gather around camp-fires during the evenings. If you book in advance you can stay in one of the small but well equipped chalets or safari tents. Roc „n Rope also manage Tranquilitas so direct enquires to them.
There are also a few self-catering houses and lodges in the area that can be rented if the Tranquilitas chalets are booked out, some can accommodate larger groups (up to 15).
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