Fort Fordyce

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Thanks to Derek Marshall for supplying the bulk of the information on this page

Sport Climbing (67 routes, few grades below 20, mostly between 20-24). Some Trad clmbing. Dolerite rock. Up a stunning pass through south facing forests of Stinkwoods 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).



The climbing

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.

Getting there

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.


SA Mountain Magazine - Issue No. 2 September 2002

Route Descriptions

Updated route guide


From the Fort Beaufort take the R67 towards Queenstown. About 10km from Fort Beaufort there will be a coffee shop with poor service, but great lemon meringue on the R. 3km later there is a turn off to Fort Fordyce on the L. Follow the signs on a reasonable dirt road to a steep pass up a green forested hillside. Sign in at the gate house. Continue to an office & living settlement at a junction at the top. Find the crags & accommodation from here.


Fort Fordyce is a nature reserve & is open to the public. Reservations can be made at the nature conservation offices in Bisho. TO-DO: Fort Fordyce has much to offer non-climbing family and many off day activities. Walking trails, swimming and bird watching.


There is a range of accommodation available. Bush camping, bungalows, comfy cottages and a tented camp. We normally bush camp or stay at Pakamisa. Pakamisa is a rustic house with a few beds, a gas stove & a great setting. It is very informal, normal quite cheap & a bit rough. There is some times running water, but bring your own drinking water. Please don’t bitch about the facilities or lack of facilities.


There are 73 sport routes and more than 50 trad lines. Lots of potential for new routes.


Vertical dolerite set in thick bush. Lots of potential.


Fort Fordyce was first climbed in the ‘80s. Keith James started the fresh wave of climbing there. He initiated the first bolted lines & is responsible for the vast majority of the sport lines. Later Garvin Jacobs added quite a few.


1. Take tick repellant. Ticks can be an issue. 2. Good place to find snakes. 3. It can be hot, make sure you have enough ice in your cooler box & that you put it in the shade during the day. 4. There are a large number of horses wondering around at Fort Fordyce. Horses bite, kick, stamp on toes, smell bad, crap all over the place & are generally a huge threat. 5. Horses attract horsy chicks. They can be cute….till you realize they are completely psycho. Don’t let horsy chicks, girlfriend or wife know about the horses; or you will never hear the end of it. You may even be forced to go horse riding which would be a total bind, especially if you would prefer to lay about in the shade with a beer on your off day & talk about climbing.


Pack a mountain bike to explore the tracks on the plateau. Take your 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.