I’m a bit of a craft beer person myself, but not all craft beer is good beer. I can tell you that there is nothing like a good beer after a day hiking in the mountains. On most of our ‘slackpacking’ trails we will make sure there is a ‘cold one’ at the end of the day, if that is your preference. It will usually be ‘Big Beer’ but if there is a local craft beer available we will try to source it.
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By no means the longest or the toughest section of the trail, nevertheless it is a good five to six hour walk with an uphill pull at the beginning and a steep downhill at the end. A word of warning, although the path is good on the descent to Smitswinkel, there is some easy down hill scrambling (hands need to be used) and there is some mild exposure on a narrow ridge, that may be challenging for those who suffer from severe vertigo. There are no ledges or cliff faces however.
|Hoerikwaggo – Simonstown to Smitswinkel April 2011|
It was a cool day with a slight breeze, ideal for hiking. Looking up from the start, the ascent to the top of Swartkop looks steep, but the zig zag path up from the mule track to the Blockhouse, makes the going reasonably easy. The path is good, although overgrown by stands of magnificent proteas in places. It is a bit steeper from the Blockhouse Gap (437m) to the highest point of the peak (678m). This was a good place to stop for tea, in a sheltered spot slightly down from the ridge.
The views from the top are quite stunning, overlooking Simon’s Town and False Bay on the one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other. From the top there is a fairly sudden descent into the valley below and you can see the path stretch up on the other side. The path is clear and although it is steep, it is a reasonably easy walk, follow by a long slow trek up the other side. The views are changing constantly and the flora is wonderful, with some outstanding examples of both pink and white King Protea and plenty of sunbirds and sugarbirds around on the day.
The path undulates up and down until the final short plateau provides a vista over the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and beautiful view all the way to Cape Point. Just after this you start the very steep descent down to Smitswinkel Bay. The wind had come up a bit at this stage but we were able to find a sheltered spot to sit and admire the view and enjoy our lunch.
|Hoerikwaggo – Smitswinkel to Simonstown|
The path is good all the way down, although overgrown with proteas in places. You need to be careful as there are some places where you need to use both hands and feet. We took it fairly slowly and I was lucky to spot a Table Mountain Beauty butterfly that sat still just long enough for me to photograph. At the bottom there is a stand of huge protea bushes and the presence of the long tailed sugarbirds was particularly noticeable. The path ends at the superb Smitswinkel Bay tented camp. Although we were not staying overnight on this occasion it is certainly the most luxuriously appointed of the camps and well worth a visit.
For guided Table Mountain day hikes and overnight trails contact Frank: email@example.com
With the World Cup Soccer come and gone it is good to record some of the activities, sites and scenes that we were able to offer our visitors in addition to the soccer. The overwhelming comments from the people that I came into contact with were the amazement at the diversity of the tourism product that South Africa has to offer, including game safaris, wine tours and tasting, whale watching, fantastic scenery and more. Although hiking is my particular focus, not many of our clients have made the time for this, this time around and most were not sure what to expect. I was fortunate to in being able to host visitors from Brazil, Mexico, U.S.A, England, Canada, Russia and France over the four week period and I am sure many will be back to experience this and more of what we have to offer. I have put together an album of some of the tours, the sites and the people, including a few of the Cape Town games, the Fan Walk and more. Afruka Eco Tours
What amazingly beautiful birds. These flamingoes were one of the many species we saw during a tour of the settling ponds adjacent to Baden Powell Drive on False Bay. The walking tour of Rondevlei was equally rewarding in spite of the rain. Thanks to Mariana of Cape Eco Tours for her knowledgeable guidance.
Another stunning wine walk
This was not planned as a walk in the Winelands, but when you look at the views from high above the Constantia Valley and the experience wine tasting at Groot Constantia at the end, this has to rate up there with the best in the world.
Saturday was a stunning early winters day in Cape Town, ideal hiking weather. This, plus the planned route up to Vlakkenberg Peak and the end point in Groot Constantia attracted a big group of Meridian Hiking Club members, plus visitors from Germany (Thomas & Katrina) and the USA (Trika & Kim). The short trek up from Constantia Nek up to Vlakkenberg Nek needs a bit of effort but once into the natural fynbos vegetation higher up the slope it is a real pleasure. The sound of grassbirds, sunbirds and sugarbirds is endless. After the rain and mist of the previous two days, the birds were ready for a bit of sun. Less than an hour up to Vlakkenberg Nek and the one of the three rocky peaks for a tea break and the view overlooking Hout Bay – what a treat. There is a bit of scrambling up there for the more adventurous, but you need to know where to go.
Back to the main path to join the route to Vlakkenberg Peak and the traditional group photocall. The fairly level section from there to join the path down Vlakkenberg Ridge has some stunning Proteas and a display of flowers & fynbos. The real treat (and surprise for those who have not done this route before) is the view over the Constantia wine farms from the top and forest of Silvertrees on the way down. It is a fairly steep path down, a bit tough on the knees but firm underfoot and well maintained. Once in the Silvertree forest it is a real pleasure. Back into Groot Constantia it is short walk past the historic swimming pool and on to Simon’s Restaurant for a drink and a snack. Wine tasting is available and a cellar tour is an option. For those with an interest in history there is an excellent museum in the old manor house.
This set was taken from the air. Amazing sequence showing the complete high and enjoyment. Scary for most but if you are up to it, it must be amazing. Just 30 minutes from Cape Town.
The heart beats a bit faster when you see this little dot falling from an aeroplane and you know that it is your own son of 26 years. It falls for what seems an eternity and then slowly above him the chute billows out and as you become sure that it has opened fully you let out a sigh of relief and then watch as they descend slowly to earth. This was Malcolms birthday gift from his sister. Not sure whether it proves that she really loves him or not – but judging from the next set of picture taken in the sky, he was on a high.
Once he had landed it made me feel that I want to do it as well – definitely some day.