Rooikat Trail in Vrolijkheid

A beautiful pink flower on the Rooikat Trail in Vrolijkheid near McGregor.

By Tom · Published Oct. 6th, 2021 · Updated Nov. 24th, 2022

The Rooikat trail is the longest hike in Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve near McGregor. It explores the arid Elandsberg Mountains with unique Robertson Karoo vegetation. While you see many interesting plants on the way, after a while the hike is a bit monotonous.

Self-issue permit station at the car park in Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve.
Self-issue permit station at the car park.


This hike starts at a car park on the Langverwagten Road just outside of McGregor. It is across the street from the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve office and self-catering cottages. A hiking permit is required. It is 2 hours and 170 km drive from Cape Town but we suggest staying in the area beforehand so you can start early and avoid some of the heat. If you don’t have a car, check out the options for car hire* from Cape Town.

Rooikat Hiking Trail Map

Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the bookmarks.

Tips on The Rooikat Trail

  • The Rooikat trail is in the Cape Nature Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve.
  • Pay for your permit at the self-issue permit station at the car park or go to the nature reserve office (office hours 07:30 to 16:00).
  • Permits are ZAR 50 p.p. for adults and ZAR 30 for children.
  • Bring a sunhat, sunscreen and plenty of water. It can be very hot in summer and no water is available on the trail.
  • Offline maps app may help with navigation, although there are paw markers indicating the trail.

We left early from our Airbnb in McGregor and started hiking at 8 am on a Saturday in March 2021. After getting a self-issued permit, we hit the trail. The first part of the trail traverses along a century-old stone wall, it was once the boundary between two farms.

Roberson Karoo Vegation in Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve.
Old stone wall along Rooikat trail.

After a while, you cross through a gap in the wall. There are signs with paws showing the direction. The trail gradually ascends as you make your way along some minor hills.

A gap in the wall on the Rooikat Trail.
A gap in the wall on the Rooikat Trail.

The landscape looks fairly dry and monotonous but if you look closely there are many small plants to be discovered. These succulents, dwarf trees and shrubs are typical of Robertson Karoo.

Succulent in Robertson Karoo.
Interesting vegetation on the Rooikat Trail.
Flowers in Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve.

After a while, you walk into a bit of a kloof and really start to ascend the low mountains. We spotted a deer, possibly a small duiker here. There were also a few beautiful Verreaux’s eagles soaring above us.

The dry Elandsberg Mountains in Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve.

Kanonkop and Witkranz

First you reach the Kanonkop peak (542 m) and a bit further along there is a short out-and-back path to Witkranz (635 m), the highest point on this hike. The views from here are quite impressive, with views of the mountains to the North, South and East.

View of McGregor near Kanonkop.
View of McGregor near Kanonkop.
View to the North from the viewpoint at Witkranz.
View to the North from the viewpoint at Witkranz.

At the viewpoint of Witkranz, you are slightly under halfway. The second part of the hike takes you along the boundary of the nature reserve and the undulating landscape and the heat takes its toll. The plants and flowers along the way are still pretty though.

The Rooikat trail along the Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve boundary.

After traversing the hills along the boundary fence for a long while, the trail heads right in the direction of the car park and descends towards the main plain. After a while, the greenery of the two dams comes into view. The car park is another 1 km from the dams.

Interesting plants on the Rooikat Trail.
The dams at Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve.

After a long hot 5 hours of walking, we had a nice food break at the picnic site in the shade of some lovely trees. The picnic site is right next to the car park, so you don’t have to carry your food around the entire hike. However, do make sure to take water and a sunhat with you else you will really struggle.

If you want somewhere to stay the night after or before hiking Rooikat Trail, then there are some great places to stay in nearby McGregor*. It’s a cute little town and there are also a couple of nice restaurants along the main street.

There are two great overnight hikes nearby – Arangieskop Peak and the Greyton to McGregor trail. For an easier hike which still has great views, try the Aasvoëlkrans Hiking Trail near Montagu. For more hiking ideas, check out our South Africa Hiking Guide.

FAQs about Rooikat Hiking Trail

Is the Rooikat Trail difficult?

It is not a difficult hike, but it is fairly long and hot. Make sure to bring along enough water.

Do I need a permit for Rooikat Trail?

Yes, a permit from Cape Nature is required and costs ZAR 50 p.p. for adults and ZAR 30 for children. You can self-issue permits at the car park or go to the nature reserve office across the street.

Where is the Rooikat Trail?

The Rooikat Trail is in Vrolijkheid Nature Reserve near the village of McGregor in the Klein Karoo.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *