Sport Climbing (about 20 routes, few grades below 6a, mostly between 6a-6c+). Some Trad clmbing. Dolerite rock. Up a stunning pass through south facing forests of Stinckwoods and Yellowwoods. This really is climbing in a jungle environment. This area was the site of the early 1850’s fierce and bloody war between the Xhosa and the British (Read “Maqoma” by Timothy Stapelton if you are interested).
There are 4 main sectors at Fort Fordyce: the Fever Ward, the Labour Ward, the More Mojo Sector and the Wall of Memories. These sectors are at the rim of a huge forested amphitheatre which resounds with birdcalls and flashes with bird flight. Mostly vertical to slightly less than vertical, the routes tend to be crux with the odd fingerlock for the big cranks. Like the Hogsback crags, friction is excellent. The lower sector is in the forest itself off the pass, and dries out much more slowly than the top sectors after rain. In general the routes are 20-25 m long with 35 – 40 m pitches in the “More Mojo” Sector.
Take the Fort Beaufort road from Grahamstown. Then from Fort Beaufort take the R67 to Queenstown. After about 12 kms you will see the Fort Fordyce signboard. Turn left here and travel a further 12 kms on a sometimes not very good dirt road, the last 8 kms of which is quite steep, to reach the reserve. You do not need a 4x4 to travel this road, but a vehicle with good ground clearance is recommended. There is another way (much better road) which goes through the Mpofu game reserve, but is much longer. Pass the turnoff to Fordyce and carry an along the R63 till the turnoff to Mpofu is reached. Turn left and carry on after the third one turn left. Continue, till a small sign indicates a left turn to Fort Fordyce. Follow this road to a gate which is normally locked outside office hours.
Food and accommodation
Macqoma's Den or Loeries Rest. You can also camp with prior arrangement with the manager Mr. Pienaar (046-684 0729 or 082 730 2799). For an additional fee you may also make use of a tented campsite. This has about five large, permanently erected tents with concrete floors, cold showers, toilets and braai facilities. There are no shops after Fort Beaufort (23 kms away), so you it is necessary to take along everything you may need. For a list of places to stay in nearby locations, and help with booking contact the HOGSBACK TOURISM CENTRE + 27 45 962 1340 PO Box 56, Hogsback 5721, SOUTH AFRICA
SA Mountain Magazine - Issue No. 2 September 2002; Also for more info on the Eastern Cape Crags check out: http://www.climbingtheamatoles.co.za
Pack a mountain bike to explore the tracks on the plateau. Take your bouldering mat or trad rack to the north-facing edges visible from in front of "Macqoma's Den" or "Loeries Rest". Fish for bass or swim at the picnic dam half a kilometre from the houses. There are 3 excellent half-day hiking trails, each exploring a separate forested amphitheatre. It's an excellent place to visit if you have a family and want to combine a half-day's climbing with family time.