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Van Gaalen Cheese Farm

By Must Love Hiking


You Must Love Hiking to wake up at 5am to set off on the road by 05h45. The drive is just over an hour from Johannesburg. We are off on this journey. As we approach the area, we witness three hot air balloons take flight into the early crisp winter skies. That is still on my bucket list to do. The plan for today is to enjoy an easy, scenic 12km hike at this incredible venue. Van Gaalen Cheese Farm is known for some of its long, easy trails although it also has not so easy trails.

The River trail is probably one of the easiest 12km trails


"Crossing a river which was not too challenging"

Erie Mid, waterproof hiking boots


From the starting point, we headed out onto the green trail, crossing a river which was not too challenging. There used to be a suspension bridge as an option to cross but unfortunately it was washed away during the floods a few months ago. The damage from the flood is very evident as you hike through this trail. Much work to repair it is necessary but nonetheless, the trail remains as stunning as always. Some of the bridges that we had to crossover were not too stable but not dangerous either when done slowly.

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Field Notes:

The terrain is not too uneven but you are faced with the roots of the many trees that you need to carefully navigate through. Whenever you are hiking, footwear must always be of great importance. Hiking in the incorrect footwear will discourage you. You are going to experience discomfort in your feet and that is never pleasant. We strongly encourage you to ensure that you are always well equipped and that you have the necessary hike vitals for a hike. Hike vitals: Sun hat, sunblock, hiking stick, nutritional hike snacks, water, isotonic, hiking boots and socks. A great tip to protect your feet from blisters is to rub vaseline on your feet and toes before wearing your socks.

We are grateful for our Merrell hiking boots that have proven to be comfortable and provide great grip on the rough terrains. It does give you the feeling that you are safe on the trail.

I struggle with flat, broad feet and collapsed arches which ultimately means that my feet will be in pain but my Erie Mid, Leather Waterproof hiking boot from Merrell Footwear has been a great support to me on my hiking journey.

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Trail Log:

Van Gaalen Cheese Farm has a few trail options. The 10km Challenge, but today we set out with our group to do the 12km River Trail (The green trail). This trail does eventually cross over the 10km Yellow trail.

The great thing about these long trails, it's that you have the option at nearly each KM to return to Van Gaalen should you wish to but it is easy enough to keep going and finish strong.

The River trail is probably one of the easiest 12km trails I have done. It does present you with some minor ascents but truly nothing to be concerned about. It is a very good trail to test your endurance and your fitness. You have the opportunity to improve your personal pace on this trail due to its terrain. There are many stunning reed tunnels that provide shade in the summer and a cool effect in winter. (Great photo moments here too). I have to say that many times as we meandered through the trail, I was reminded of the Otter Trail with the trees and the sound of the water on the one side.

A very tranquil trail if you want to clear your mind and just hike with ease. We heard a rustle in the bushes and as we gazed up into the trees, there was a troop of monkeys swinging in the trees. There was one monkey just lazing on a branch. 

The river that runs through this trail is just incredible. There are mini waterfalls along the river that are truly spectacular. The best part of this trail for many of our hikers, were the swings and of course, our medium and slower paced hikers, did not need a second invitation to pause and enjoy a moment on the swings. The child in us came out again and we were reminded of our younger days when life was more simpler than now. Life is too short, you must stop, to swing on a swing made from tyres or an old tree trunk. There are a few places on the trail that could be slippery where extra care should be taken. 

  • There are many nut trees in the open fields that you will pass by on this trail.
  • The entrance fee to this trail is R50 per person.
  • They accept cash or card
  • They have a restaurant on site. Best to book a table before you arrive to avoid disappointment. The food and the service is excellent.
  • They offer wine tasting. 


Hike 54 4th