There comes a time when we are required to go up the mountain in order to regain vision and see further. While going up the mountain, you are bound to feel tired. At times tired knees want to give in, you run out of water and feel the urge to quit.

Such was the case when we climbed a mountain near the Aerial Cableway Hartbeespoort. We descended using a different route and exited the mountain near the Wimpy. The mountain can be climbed by members of the public, but it is best to do so under the guidance of local guides (which is what we did). The information about the area, scenery and survival tips that you get from such a guide is downright amazing and worth it.

On our way up the mountain we came across a dead racing pigeon. Our amazing guide realized that this was not just any bird, but could give an appropriate time and cause of death, just by studying the bird. He then also used a rock to amputate the claws so that he could remove the metal tag from its leg so he could trace the owners and notify them.

Going up the mountain was very tough. I had assumed I was one of the fittest, but knew I was exhausted when my sister pulled me with a stick and even risked her life letting me lie on her back, even in the midst of falling rocks and steep climbs. 

As we went on our journey to the top, we were shown a cave which another group that had come before us had already occupied. Our local guides told us many people (including themselves) sometimes spend the night under the stars out in the open, right there on the mountain.

When I asked about the safety aspects of it, because we did not see a single security personnel, I was told that they had not experienced any incidents and that the view, reflection time and meditation was worth the risk.

I can vouch for the beauty and almost sacredness of the retreat, however don't recommend spending the night or climbing this mountain on your own. We went as a group of probably 14 people. As we ascended, we spotted a dressed in  group of people dressed in what seemed to be church uniform, a  young couple with a dog, as well as a team of traditional herbalists with roots and plants in their hands. 

It was clear that there were many different reasons that people climbed mountains around Harties (Hartbeespoort Dam). The views are scenic, especially from the top. You do need to be fit and able to navigate in seemingly "forest terrain". I could not find my way as it is easy to get lost. 

At times you lose cellphone reception and the tracks are not well marked. The route was not suitable for young children and there are no restrooms. It is just a mountain and mankind taking on a mountain in order to find an aspect of self. When you are at the top, it feels like you can touch the clouds. There is a cross. Beautiful views of the dam below. It is silent. So beautiful. Breathtaking. Calm. Still.

Phindiwe Nkosi (right) with her sister at the top of a mountain at HartiesPhindiwe Nkosi (right) with her sister at the top of a mountain at Harties


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