Suicide Gorge is regarded as one of South Africa’s most thrilling and adrenalin-inducing hiking trails.
Aptly named for its death-defying jumps from cliffs that range between 3 and 20 meters, Suicide Gorge most definitely lives up to the hype. Deemed the ultimate bucket-list hike, especially among avid hiking enthusiasts, the renowned Suicide Gorge is solely reserved for the brave, blissfully fearless, and down-right adventurous and should only be attempted by resilient, hardy and highly experienced hikers.
Often described as more of a daring combination of kloofing and swimming than a hike, the demanding trail involves daunting leaps off cliffs into deep pools, rousing and challenging scrambles, and swimming through mountain streams and canyons surrounded by stunning waterfalls.
Most of the trail’s compulsory leaps and jumps are between 7 – 8m with the highest jump being a pulse-racing 14m high. As certain (or rather most) daring leaps down waterfalls cannot be avoided when hiking and scaling Suicide Gorge, it is important that you are not in the least bit afraid of heights and that you are willing to swim in ice cold water when needed.
Remember, once you’re in, you’re in, the only way to get out of this section of the Riviersonderend Mountains is through some gravity-defying jumps and grueling scrambles. Considering the challenging, formidable, and adrenaline-pumping nature of this legendary Cape Town hiking trail, it makes complete and utter sense that any and all hikers eager to conquer Suicide Gorge be extremely fit, highly experienced, in great health, and possess a bold, brave, thrill-seeking, and adventurous spirit ready to take on any challenge.
Difficult | Challenging
High level of fitness required
+/- 17km circular route
Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve
Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve
Approximately 9 hours (depending on fitness level)
- You must have a Special Use Kloofing Permit to go on this hike | Bookings & permits are essential: Tel: 087 087 8250 | Email:[email protected]
- This Kloofing route is not for the faint-hearted! When Kloofing at Suicide Gorge, hikers must be accompanied by a registered and experienced Kloofing Guide or someone who has knowledge and experience of the trail. You can contact CapeNature for information about guides | CapeNature Contact details: 021 483 0190
- Wear lightweight hiking shoes.
- A wetsuit is advisable (as the water is incredibly chilly).
- It is best to use a waterproof bag.
- The route can be exceptionally dangerous in extreme weather conditions and should therefore not be attempted during hazardous conditions.
- The Suicide Gorge Hiking Route is open from 1 November to 30 April.
- As the route is incredibly popular excursions on Saturdays and Sundays must be booked a month in advance. A shorter booking period is allowed for weekday excursions.
- The Suicide Gorge and Riviersonderend Route may be closed at any time, at the discretion of the reserve management (due to inclement weather or other unsafe conditions).
- Hikers are advised to start early and may not set out from the starting point later than 9am. The entry gate closes at 4pm and all kloofers must exit before 7pm.
- No children under 12 are allowed on this trail.
- The reserve office is only open on weekdays, but a staff member will be on duty seven days a week.
- Maximum capacity for each kloofing route per day is 30 people.
- The Suicide Gorge Hiking Trail has little to no shade, and on a scorching hot day, things can get seriously uncomfortable!
- Access will not be permitted in these cases: After the start cut-off time of 9am | To clients without approved kloofing guides | No one is allowed to enter once capacity is reached | Access will not be permitted during high risk times (fire, flooding, etc).
- Reserve office hours are 8am to 4pm weekdays only.
- The entrance gate is open from 7:30am to 4pm.
- Emergency personnel are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
How To Get To Suicide Gorge?
Suicide Gorge lies in the Hottentot Holland Nature Reserve, one of the Western Cape’s most magnificent natural gems, situated approximately 90km south-east of Cape Town. The entrance is located at Nuweberg, which is approximately 11km from Grabouw on the R321.
The best way to reach the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve and Suicide Gorge from Cape Town is to take the N2, turn left at the Orchard Farm Stall in Grabouw and left again at the Villiersdorp junction.
There are three legs to the Suicide Gorge hike:
- First, there is a 2.5-hour hike from your car to the start of the gorge.
- Next up is the cliff-jumping adventure down the gorge.
- The last leg of the Suicide Gorge hike is the hike back to your car.
The Suicide Gorge trail starts with a two-hour hike that takes you high up into the mountains, as well as an optional waterfall slide. The grueling up-hill climb is followed by a steep 1.3km downhill right down through the gorge with multiple leaps and jumps (some measuring up to 14m high) and plenty of swims.
**While the entire route can take anywhere between 9 – 12 hours, the kloofing section is only about 1.3km, however, it consists of 80% swimming. It is important to start your Suicide Gorge adventure early to ensure you finish before dark.**
A large portion of the +/- 17km Suicide Gorge hike involves you slip-sliding your way along a natural waterslide. At certain points throughout your hike, you will be required to leap off cliffs (some as high as 14m) into refreshing pools below. All of this combined undoubtedly makes hiking the daring Suicide Gorge one of the most thrill-inducing, adrenaline-boosting, thrill-seeking, and down-right adventurous experiences in the Western Cape and South Africa alike – Perfectly suited to experienced hikers and die-hard adrenalin junkies.
However, if you prefer a less intense and daring experience, the nearby Riviersonderend Route offers hikers a similar challenge and adventure, but with fewer drops (the highest drop being seven meters), leaps, scrambles, and plunges. Whichever route you choose, it promises to be an exciting and unforgettable adventure nonetheless.
- Your Special Use Kloofing Permit.
- Suitable kloofing shoes, a swimsuit, quick-drying shirt, and swimming shorts. Cotton is not advised – Remember, this is a wet hike.
- A light wetsuit is recommended – 80% of the kloofing requires swimming and you will remain wet throughout.
- At least one proper dry bag, waterproof for 14m drops into water, with warm jackets or tops for the group.
- Bring a change of clothes along and leave it in the car for after the hike.
- A minimum of 2 liters of drinking water per person is advised.
- Lunch and energy snacks in sealed bags.
- Waterproof sunblock. There are patches of shade to rest under, but for most of the walk you might be exposed to the sun.
- Waterproof camera/video camera. Views are incredible and you will want pictures of you and your friends doing the jumps.
- Kloofing is strenuous and jumps can be dangerous. Only do these routes if you are a fit and experienced kloofer. Go with someone who has done the route at least twice before.
- Weather can turn quickly in the mountains. Check the weather forecast and do not start if rain or poor weather conditions might set in. The Conservation Manager may close routes if un-safe conditions arise.
- Wear a wetsuit and carry food, emergency gear and warm clothing in a waterproof pack / back pack.
- Once you’re in the gorges, the only way out is to continue down the river, so be prepared for a long day. Tell someone where you are going and your expected time of return. THERE IS NO CELLPHONE RECEPTION in the kloofs, so your group is self-reliant.
- Never jump without testing the water. Cape mountain water is very dark due to the natural tannins in the water, and under water hazards can be invisible. Never assume that a pool that was clear of obstacles before is still safe, large rocks and branches are regularly moved around by water.
- Land feet first, legs together, and don’t have your arms open or extended during the landing. Never, ever dive.
- When booking a guided trip, ensure that your guides are qualified and check whether wetsuits are provided.
- If there is rain, beware of flash floods. The river can rise several meters in mere minutes.