TIME: 4 hours.
DISTANCE: 8 km.
TERRAIN: Undulating path with moderate slopes and gradients. The descent to the Silent Woman is steep but not difficult.
Follow the path from behind Room 203 (at the diesel pump) and bear left. Go up three metres and into the Fern Forest. Follow this path through the bush tunnel until you reach a wooden bridge over the river. Cross the bridge and turn immediately left ascending into the forest. On reaching a large cairn turn right.
The path ascends steeply coming out into the open on Bushbuck Ridge. To your right you will have views of The Cavern and the Resort Spa. After passing though the kissing gate continue straight ignoring the turn to the right signposted “Natural Pool”. The path now descends through another gate and down onto the gravel track. Turn left onto the gravel track, crossing the bridge. Immediately after the bridge the path veers left up the side of the hill bringing you back onto the road before the gate.
Go through the gate and continue on this gravel track until you reach Sungubala Camp. At the entrance to the camp the path veers to the left to bypass the camp. Stay on the path keeping the camp on your right side. You will see green and black way-marks for the route. The path descends gently to a river crossing in a small indigenous forest patch. A further 300 m beyond the forest the path does a 90° right turn and then continues running parallel to the river. After a short climb you will see a small but prominent pointed lone peak. This is known locally as the Bishop’s Mitre.
The path descends again into more indigenous forest and to another river crossing. In this forest there are two more river crossings before the path ascends and exits the forest. You will see Sungubala Camp in the distance. The path now climbs steadily up to another patch of indigenous forest on the hillside. Once you exit this forest you will come to a T-junction. Here turn right, descending the hill, with the path joining an old jeep track. Turn right and continue on the jeep track, coming to a small river crossing. 200 m beyond this is a path on the left marked with the green and black way mark. Follow this path down to the river. Cross over and head right into the trees. Here you will find a campfire. Look at the rock face opposite to see a red square and a white arrow. This is where the rock carving of the Silent Woman is to be found.
The Silent Woman was carved by Willie Chalmers, who arrived in the area in the 1950s. He was a pacifist who did not wish to fight in the Second World War. He had walked from the Cape to Natal where he intended to study Bushman art. He started carving instead, often at frenetic speed, sometimes for long periods without rest. He kept no records, so not all his sculptures are known. Every so often a new one is found. Willie Chalmers also painted, and some of his work hangs in the Conference Room.
To return, follow the path back to the jeep track, which will lead you back to the gate before Sungubala Camp. Go through this gate and continue on the jeep track until reaching the tarred road. Turn right, back to The Cavern.