Monthly Archives: February 2010

The Cintsa Horse Trail

Home to the well known Strandloper Hiking Trail, this is another great way to see this part of the coast.

The Cintsa Horse Trails run both half day (3-4 hours) and full day trails (5 hours plus), most of which are on the beach. The area is well known for it’s birdlife and with luck you may see Fish Eagle.

Along the coast you are likely to see dolphin and at certain times of the year Southern Right and Humpback Whale.

The trails are guided and the horses are allocated according to the ability of the riders, from beginners to experienced riders.

Go to Cintsa Horses at www.cintsahorses.co.za

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Filed under Horse Trails, News, Safari, Tours

Silvermine River Walk

 

Silvermine Dam

– approximately 1½ hours one way – 2½ hours circular walk

The start of this easy ramble is close to the main entrance of the Silvermine section of Table Mountain National Park. At the top of Ou Kaapseweg (Old Cape Road) on the right hand side, travelling from Cape Town towards Fish Hoek and Noordhoek, turn left just after the pay point. Park in the open parking area. If you don’t want to do the return walk you will need to shuttle vehicles so that you have a car parked near the dam at the end of the walk.

Head down towards the river and you will soon see the signs marking the start. The route is approximately three kilometers in total, broken into two sections. The first two kilometers, from the gate to the dam follow the course of the river. This is a perennial stream which flows very strongly after the winter rains. The path is good, with a small amount of rough path in two or three places. There are board walks over some of the wetter areas. Some of the walk is in open area, other parts of the walk are under a canopy of Keurboom trees that have established themselves as pioneer plants in the wake of the fire of 2000. There is a beautiful small waterfall close to the end of this section, before the path crosses the cycle track close to the dam. Turn left at on the road below the dam wall to get on to the second section or right to go to the picnic areas and car park.

The second section of approximately one kilometer, is a circular route around the dam. This section is almost entirely on boardwalk and is wheelchair friendly, provided the wheel chair can be pushed (i.e. it may be difficult for people in wheelchairs to propel themselves in some places). The dam was built between 1918 & 1920 and is only dam in the mountain chain where people are allowed to swim – so it is worth taking a costume with you. The vegetation changes slightly here with more reeds, restios and grasses, but also ericas and proteas. Follow the path around the end of the dam and back along the boardwalk, past a number of built picnic sites. Fires are allowed here during winter but not in the summer ‘fire season’. Shade trees have been planted and encouraged around the picnic areas.

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Platteklip Gorge – the classic route to the top of Table Mountain.

This is the only route that is recommended for groups not wanting to employ a qualified mountain guide. Warning: Individuals – never hike alone – even on this route, use a guide or find someone to walk with. All other routes should be led by someone who knows the route and knows the mountain. (See Safety)

The way up

Platteklip Gorge is certainly the most popular hiking route to the top of Table Mountain – sometimes known as the ‘N1’ highway to the top. The term Platteklip means ‘flat rock’ and is named for the smooth flat rocks that are found in the lower part of the gorge. It is also thought that there was one particular area of flat rock further down the Gorge where in times gone by slaves and servants used to come to do washing for their masters and employers.

The reason for its popularity is not hard to understand – it is the most obvious and clear way up the mountain, with a path that is very easy to follow. On a busy day you’re likely to meet a wide range of people, from local families and youth groups on a day outing, to international tourists, determined to be able to say ‘I climbed Table Mountain!’. There are local fitness fanatics who treat the route as a running track to the top, as well as those who plod up slowly, stopping often to admire the views. It is not unusual to hear as many as ten different languages on your way up or down. You’re also likely to interact with the full spectrum of colourful South Africans. Perhaps the ‘social highway’ to the top would be a better description. People are friendly and ready to greet – they offer encouragement, curse the steepness of ascent on their way up and cheerfully tell you how far to the top on their way down.

Although the path is clear, the climb is steep. There is no getting away from the fact that you have to get from 350 metres above sea level (on Tafelberg Rd.) to 1 020 metres at the top – a climb of just less than 700 metres, from the start, to the cairn at the top – your indication that you have made it.

A closer look

On a hot day it may seem longer and steeper (temperatures can get up over 35 degrees C in Cape Town), on a cold and misty day it may be damp and slippery. It is also true that what can start out as a fine warm day can turn into a cold and rainy day very quickly – and the other way around. Cape Town weather is unpredictable and the weather on the mountain even more so.

The route is also not all easy going, with some rough and rocky sections where you will need to watch your footing. You should have good walking shoes or boots and a hiking pole helps. Start early, particularly in hot weather. Take plenty of water, sun block and a hat. The temperature is always a few degrees colder at the top, so take a warm jacket with you in a day pack, together with your water, food and a few energy snacks for the route. Don’t go in wet weather unless you are with an experienced group or a guide who knows the mountain – even clear paths can be dangerous in these conditions.

About half way

Many people take this route because you can walk up and take a cable car ride down. A word of caution – weather conditions can change quickly and may stop the cable car from running: you could have to walk down again. Wind conditions at the top are not always the same as those at the bottom – check weather conditions before you go. Light rain or mist will not normally stop the cable car operation but windy or very wet conditions will.

 If you are not sure, arrange for a mountain guide to accompany you. A guide can also add interest to your walk; history, people, stories, geological features, local flora and much, much more.

Route summary.

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Filed under Day Hikes, Day Walks, Information, News, Table Mountain