The Koumashoek circuit is a perfect example of the beauty of the Outeniqua mountains – from the dense fynbos to the panoramic views of both the Swarberg and the sea. As of date there is but little information on this trail, so here is to hoping that this post proves valuable.
The first thing to consider is the parking of one’s car – there are two options for this. One can park at the bottom of the trail, which would be the safer option. The catch is obtaining access to the gate leading to the communication tower. The second option is parking at the top of the trail, either next to the road on the left, or on top the escarpment on the right of the road – we parked here and did the trial anticlockwise.
Upon starting, one is immediately aware of the ground left to cover. The path largely follows along the watershed and one continually sees into the bowl of Koumasoek.
The first 4km of the trail is exceptionally plant rich. One can expect to see Protea eximia, Protea cynaroides (without a doubt the reddest king proteas I have ever seen), Leucospermum cuneiforme, Mimetes cucullatus, Mimetes pauciflorus (rather rare, so keep an eye out!) and Aulax cancellata to name just a few in the protea family!
After 4km of walking around the south of Skurweberg, we reached the watershed, with a panoramic view of the Swartberg, Attaquaskloof and the coast. This is where the slog started. From here, we did two mini-ascents; firstly up to the unnamed peak at 1093m and then up to Jurie se Berg at 1135m.
As an aside, I mention that the mountain is named after Jurie Zietsman who died hiking the two-day Attaquaskloof trail (currently closed to the public). Jurie was a doctor and the employer of my grandmother.
The path between the unnamed peak and the point where one starts to climb Jurie se Berg, is a difficult to follow. I urge everyone to help maintain the trail by packing cairns along this section. It is not much of a problem on a clear day, but I can imagine that there would be some difficulty finding one’s way in the mist.
We stopped here for a sandwich and coffee. With new found energy we made our way up Jurie se Berg. The path follows just under the top of the mountain where the beacon is. From this vantage point we had a 360° view of the surrounding mountain scenery.
Finally, we descended all the way into the Koumarivier. We saw an abundance of heath on the way down, as well as Protea aurea ssp. aurea and Keurbooms near the river. The mountain water helped to cool us down and prepared us for the final (and toughest) section of the trail, back up to the car. From the river it is 3km to the R328 and then another 3km back to the top of the pass.
Max elevation: 1171 m
Min elevation: 424 m
Total climbing: 1341 m
Total time: 06:40:06