Skeleton Gorge and the Aquaduct – Red & Blue Disas and more
Red disa – Window Gorge Stream
Saturday was a perfect Cape Town day for a hike up the southern side of Table Mountain, in search of the Red disa (Disa uniflora). These magnificent flowers only show themselves towards the end of January and usually fade away around the end of February. How quickly time flies when one wants to do something like this, before you know what has happened they have disappeared for another year. This year I have been lucky to see them in two different places, Myburgh and Disa Ravine, but they are always most prolific in the Window Gorge Stream and Aquaduct areas.
Meridian Hiking Club on Aquaduct Path
The weather was a bit cooler than it has been lately, with a little bit of cloud around to bring the temperatures down. From Cecelia Forest we headed up to the Contour Path and on to Skeleton Gorge. It was a fairly strong Meridian Hiking Club group, so the pace was reasonably good. We soon reached the top where there were a few of sort after flower hanging from the cliff face. Further down Smuts Track, at the Window Gorge stream there was a much more abundant display, with their red reflections in the water doubling the effect.
King Protea on Nursery Ravine
Along the route we were lucky enough to spot quite a few Blue disa (Disa graminifolia) and the occasional display by the red Cluster disa (Disa ferruginea). Up in the Aquaduct there was evidence of what must have been quite a magnificent exhibition of the Red disas, but most were now past their best. There will probably still be a few around this coming weekend, but that will probably be the last opportunity of the season.
Crossing the Aqueduct – Disas below
We continued our walk down the valley towards the reservoirs where we had our picnic lunch, before heading back through Nursery Ravine. About half-way down Nursery there is the most wonderful show of King Protea (Protea cynaroides). Even though this is not my own favourite route down (or up) the mountain, it is worth the effort just to see this.
It was good to get on to the contour path and head back for Cecelia Forest and the inevitable cold beer at the finish.
Your Cape Town Host
Walking in the rain is ok as long as you start in the dry. Saturday was different. Karen had organised a permit for Orangekloof – limited to 12 people per day and very much in demand at this time of the year, with the Red disas in bloom. It was raining as we started – not too heavily but clearly not likely to lift any time soon. But with permits in short supply and looking like a hardy group we put on our waterproofs and set out anyway.
At the start it was not too bad, just a few drips and plenty of mist, with more moisture generated from inside the rain gear than from outside. It certainly was not cold. We had planned to do Hell’s Gate and climb up to the Woodhead Tunnel, but with the wet it was going to be too slippery, so we turned off the jeep track on to the Disa Ravine path. The idea was to get too the Woodhead Tunnel, possibly see the disas there and then on to the top of the ravine and return via the concrete road to Constantia Nek.
Group at Woodhead Tunnel
As we got closer to the Disa Ravine path, the mist closed in, but the Blue disas decorating the path were superb. The rain got heavier but by now we were pretty wet, so decided to at least reach Woodhead Tunnel for ‘tea’. We were rewarded with a beautiful cluster of disas just above the tunnel and I was mad at myself for forgetting my newly repaired camera. I think Rodney was the only one who had actually brought real tea and we watched with envy as he poured a steaming cup.
Blue disas in Orangekloof
There was not shelter and have achieved the initial objective of seeing the Red disas, it was a unanimous decision to return via the same path and head for the dryer lower slopes. By this time we were all fairly well soaked but as we neared the parking area the rain seemed to disappear and we started to dry out. The idea of a warm fire and a cold beer enticed Karen, Keith and myself to the Constantia Nek Restaurant, while the others headed for home. Thanks to Karen for organising the permit – always worth it in spite of the wet.
With my sister out from Canada and Lindsay about to start a new job on Friday, we decided to take the opportunity on Wednesday to hike up Myburgh Ravine to see the red disas (Disa uniflora). These beautiful flowers are only seen between the end of January and the first few weeks of February and only in few locations on Table Mountain and some of the surrounding mountains. Inevitably unless you make a plan and get out and see them, the time passes quickly and they fade and are gone before you get there.
It was a misty morning, but cool and beautiful for walking. I had not done the route for quite a while and was pleased that Peter, who had done it the week before, had decided to join us. Starting in Hout Bay we had initially planned to hike up to the point where we had already established that the disas were blooming and return the same way. Getting to the start of the ravine is an easy and pleasant walk of about an hour through high stands of proteas. The start of the ravine is shady a shady section of afro-montane forest and there is a short scramble out of the ravine at one point, to get around a rock face, before returning the main path in ravine. This was a bit more challenging than anticipated, particularly having made the mistake of bringing dogs with us.
Once past this point it is a climb up over a boulder strewn section, not difficult, but uneven and a bit of a scramble over and around the rocks. With the mist and even light rain at times, it was quite slippery in places. Suddenly we were at the point where the disas were blooming. There must have been about thirty or more blooms of the delicate red and pink flowers. Most of the party had not seen these iconic Western Cape flowers before, so it was very rewarding and well worth the effort. We spent a bit of time just enjoying the spectacle and taking the obligatory photos of flowers and family.
The earlier scramble had proved more difficult than expected and we decided rather to continue up the ravine and return over the top, past Judas Peak and down Llandudno Ravine. The walk up through the rest of the ravine, is quite spectacular, with high cliffs either side. At the top, the route out itself is not that easy, with a very steep, sandy and rather degraded path. It has to be climbed very carefully and although there is a rocky alternative, on the day this was wet and slippery and not a viable option. Once at the top it was a stunning walk through the misty surroundings before heading down the steep Llandudno Ravine. Unfortunately the mist stayed down until we got quite close to Hout Bay, so we did not see the views of the Atlantic coast that you always get from on this route. Quite a tough day for family members not used to hiking, and a few sore legs the next day.
Warning: Not a hike to be undertaken without someone who knows the way. There are some fairly challenging scrambles where a head for heights is needed. The path at the top is quite badly eroded with a steep drop below. Not a route for dogs – a mistake that we made – adding to the challenge.
Disa uniflora – the Pride of Table Mountain
The red disas (Disa uniflora) have started to make their annual appearance on Table Mountain. Although I have not seen them myself as yet, a friend was up in Myburgh Ravine yesterday and confirmed that they are already out there. The red disa is the largest of the South African orchids and only flower for approximately three to four week during late January and early February.
There are a only few locations around Table Mountain and a few places close by, such as the Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve (Betty’s Bay), where they can be seen. I will be doing a number of hikes over the next few days to have a look at the various locations. Once I know that they are in full bloom, anyone wishing to join day hikes to view these striking flowers can contact me on email@example.com or complete the TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM .
For DAY HIKE RATES click here.
The first three days of the tour with Shelley and Meier Altman, from Perth, Australia.
A brilliant few days in the Cederberg, the weather was kind and we had some great hiking.
Tour organised by Afruka Eco Tours: www.afrukaecotours.co.za ; contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
This was one of the most interesting and diverse tours I have done this year. It included three days in Maltese Cross, the Wolfberg Cracks and Wolfberg Arch and the Savilla Rock Art Trail, before heading down the West Coast to visit Bird Island at Lamberts Bay and finally heading home along the West Coast.
I met up with Shelley and Meier at their accommodation in Milnerton. We got off to a good early start from Cape Town and headed for the Cederberg via du Toitskloof, Slanghoek Valley, Ceres and the Gydo Pass. I had not done the southerly route before, so the Gydo Pass and the road between Op-die-berg and Matjies River Nature Reserve were new to me. That alone was a worthwhile experience as it is a most spectacular pass. The tar ends about 20 km outside Op-die-berg and it is not long before the fantastic rock formations of the Cederberg start making their presence felt. Being the end of a fairly wet winter, the stark Cederberg terrain is relieved by plenty of green patches and there are quite a few strongly flowing streams along the route. The patches of vineyards, fruit trees and olive groves in the deep valleys add to the add another dimension as the brown ribbon of road winds into the distance.
We arrived at Sanddrif a bit early for the room to be ready and decided to head off immediately to tackle the walk to the Maltese Cross, having lunch on the way. It is very easy to underestimate this walk as it is often regarded as a warm up for the longer walk through the Wolfberg Cracks to the Wolfberg Arch. It is quite deceptive and tougher than it looks as you are climbing roughly 600 meters, and the path is quite direct to the first ridge. With regular stops however and a bit of mutual encouragement we made it up the steepest section. Once on the ridge it is a bit easier going with the trek up the last section of valley to the plateaux temptingly revealing the top of the ‘Cross’ before it disappears again.
Suddenly you are on flat plateaux and the magnificent rock structure of the Maltese Cross dominates the path ahead. If you have not seen it before, nothing can prepare you for the size and uniqueness of this rock outcrop. We took a slow walk to the base, with Shelley shooting off the path to get a different angle for a photograph or seeing a special shot. If is only proper to spend some time here to appreciate the ‘Cross’ and the surrounding environment. It was also time to unpack the lunch that we had brought along and enjoy some refreshment.
The walk back is much easier and we were able to appreciate the magnificent views all the more. We were back at the car by 4p.m. and ready to head for our overnight accommodation at Sanddrif. The timing was good to get the fire going to cook some angel fish for dinner. After a long drive and great walk and the good company of Shelley and Meier it was a satisfying day, but did not take much to get to sleep once the head hit the pillow.
Filed under Cederberg, Day Hikes, Day Trekking, Day Walks, Flower Tours, overnight trails, Slackpacker, Slackpacking Trails, Tours, Trekking South Africa, Western Cape Hiking Trails
This was just day 1 of a most fantastic tour of the Cederberg and West Coast with Shelley and Meier Altman, from Perth, Australia. The tour was put together by Afruka Eco Tours and was a great combination of trekking and touring. Great hikes to the Maltese Cross and Wolfberg Arch, followed by tour to the Savilla Rock Art Trail and Lamberts Bay. More description and photos to follow.
www.afrukaecotours.co.za : contact email@example.com
Filed under Cedarberg, Cederberg, Day Hikes, Day Trekking, Day Walks, Flower Tours, News, Outdoor, Slackpacker, Slackpacking Trails, Trekking South Africa, Western Cape Hiking Trails
Posberg Nature Reserve – drive or hike
The first thing that comes to mind when the name Posberg is mentioned is flowers. The reserve is a privately owned piece of land within the boundaries of the West Coast National Park. It is managed by SA National Parks, but is accessible to the public only in August and September each year when it is opened to show off the magnificent array of flowers.
The best way to visit the reserve is to set a day aside, park at the gate and follow the Klipspringer hiking path up on to the ridge. This way you get to see both the detail of the individual flowers, as well as the incredible flower carpeted expanse of open veld and the views to the sea.
If you are on the ball and book early, you can also arrange an overnight hike in the reserve during this time. The trail follows a circular route and the overnight site is close to the beach at Plantjies Bay. You will need to bring your own tent and food supplies, but it is a beautiful experience to spend the night under the stars.
For those that do not have the time or the inclination to walk it is possible to drive the scenic routes. It can be done in an ordinary saloon car, although a high clearance vehicle is preferable. At various parts of the route you will be able to see the Atlantic Ocean, Saldhana Bay and the port of Saldhana, Langebaan Lagoon and the West Coast National Park.
Within the West Coast National Park, on your way back, you can visit the site of the discovery of “Eve’s” footprint at Kraalbaai. Dated at 117,000 years old it is proof of human habitation of the area during the Halocene Age.
For flower tours, both hiking and driving contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. We cater for tours for one up to ten people or complete the contact form and we will get back to you.
Visit our web site at www.afrukaecotours.co.za.
Contact Frank: Cell 082-8824388