Category Archives: Table Mountain

Noordhoek Beach to Silvermine, via Chapman’s Peak

I have probably written about this one before, but being one of my favourite hikes it is worth revisiting. The route up Chapman’s Peak was one of the few new paths that were created, specifically for the Hoerikwaggo Trail trekking route, and includes some of the most spectacular views in the whole of the Cape Peninsula.

Sunday was cool but clear, except for some wispy cloud on the tops of the mountain peaks. The wind was moderate, in the south east.  Ten of us, we met at Silvermine Dam to shuttle cars to the start at Noordhoek beach, with the plan to walk back up Chapman’s Peak to Silvermine. The idea of a swim in the dam after a long hike is always a good incentive.

The trail starts with a short walk across the beach towards the rock to your right to find the gap in the dune foliage that indicates the start of the boardwalk. The boardwalk has been constructed over this section to protect the dunes from erosion and provide a comfortable start to the trail as it climbs up to Chapman’s Peak Drive. Steep  wooden steps on the other side of the road lift hikers up a level to start the gradual trek up the abrupt slopes of this iconic summit.

Strangely, although it is continuously up hill, the path has been so well designed that it is not often that you feel you are on a continuous steep incline. There is some gradual contouring and a few very short scrambles and a ridge or two to negotiate, but provided you are not in a rush (and we were not), it is a reasonable hour and half walk to the top. There are plenty of places to stop to admire the views and many photo opportunities that provide an additional excuse to rest. Looking back at Noordhoek  Beach, looking forward to Hout Bay, looking across towards False Bay, South towards Cape Point or up to the summit are all part of the package. The clouds swirling, appearing and disappearing  across the various peaks and valleys added to the spectacle.

Some of the group were a bit faster than others, but we all met at the summit of Chapman’s Peak for a well-deserved rest and a dig in to the various tea goodies that everyone had brought along. Although the route is steep, the height exposure is very moderate, with the path set mostly well back.

From Chapman’s Peak, the path down in to the saddle is clear and easy going, with large stands of Proteas on either side. The orange breasted sunbirds were out in full force on the day, staying still only for enough time for to get the camera switched on and almost focused, before flitting off without the shot being captured.

As the descent in to the saddle comes to an end, Silvermine Ridge looms high above to the east. You look up and the legs already feel weary at the prospect of trekking up to it’s imposing highpoint. Quite a bit higher than Chapman’s Peak, the path to the ridge is a long slow trek. There are no challenging climbs and except for two short rock bands, no scrambles, but for the next hour and a half you will be walking up hill.

At last the white concrete beacon, indicating a high point on the ridge, comes in to view and a welcome rest for a dip in to the lunch box. We had made fairly good time, having started at about 08h30, we were above Silvermine Valley shortly after 13h15.

From here we followed the jeep track for a short while (beware of fast oving mountain bikers) before turning off on to a path leading to the ridge overlooking  Silvermine Valley. It was one of those days that the mist swirls in and out, revealing the beauty of the valley briefly before covering it again with cloud. There are some amazing rock formations on this route, as well as a impressive variety of proteas, ericas and restios along with other fynbos species, including an occasional blue disa, gladioli and pelargoniums.

At last the dam emerged out of the mist and as if inviting us for a swim the cloud cleared and the late summer sun showed that it still had some power. The walk ended with a very welcome swim – good end to another great hike in the Table Mountain chain.

For guided Table Mountain day hikes and overnight hiking trails contact Frank: frank@slackpackersa.co.za

Meridian Hiking Club – Noordhoek to Silvermine

https://picasaweb.google.com/111802779914665422593/MeridianHikingClubNoordhoekToSilvermine#

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Filed under Day Hikes, Day Trekking, Day Walks, Outdoor, Slackpacking Trails, Table Mountain, Trekking South Africa, Western Cape Hiking Trails

Baboons besieging Protea & Restio huts

In my previous up-date I talked about the baboons besieging the kitchen at the overnight huts on the Cape Point Trail. I had an experience with them once before and was wiser for it. This time I put all food away as I prepared it and kept the kitchen securely locked every time I moved in and out. These photos were taken over a period of about one and a half hours. I could walk in and out of the rooms without a problem as long as I did not carry any kind of packet or something that looked like food. When I did walk out with a packet of firelighters, the big male did advance towards me – when I threw it on the ground he went and looked at it, smelled it and lost interest.

They only left when the others returned from their walk to Cape Point lighthouse.

Cape Point Trail baboons

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Filed under Backpack Trails, Cape Point, News, Outdoor, overnight trails, Slackpacker, Slackpacking Trails, Table Mountain, Trekking South Africa, Western Cape Hiking Trails

Cape Point Trail in the wind

Doing the Cape Point Trail with the Reydams family group over the weekend of 23rd July proved to me once again that in all but the most extreme conditions this is a wonderful hike. The winds were strong going down the cliff path with one having to step carefully to maintain footing and put your head down in to the wind at times. The Buffelfontein information centre was welcome relief over lunch time and then it was on to the overnight huts.

The group still had the energy to take on the extra 2 km down to Cape Point itself, once they had put their bags down and had a cup of tea. During the time they were away, guided by Binnie, I got on with the dinner prepartion. Fortunately I was aware of the potential for baboon invasion, having experienced it before – the troop layed siege to the kitchen for the best part of an hour and a half – only leaving when the others returned.

The next day started a bit better and the coastal walk was great with a couple of very light rain squalls. A hard squall of rain cut short our lunch and from then on, for the next two hours the rain came and went. We were all quite pleased to reach the cars to warm up, but nevertheless it was a great experience.

Reydams Family Cape Point Trail

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Caveman’s Overhang

 

Caveman’s Overhang 16042011

We did this awesome route on Saturday with Meridian Hiking Club. We left early from Constantia Nek to join Karen and he hiking club group that had spent the night at Overseers Cottage.

I had done it about three or four years ago with Tim Jenkins, but when I tried to explore the route last year with a couple of friends we ended up at the Hole in the Wall and came back through the hidden forest. That was quite an adventure in itself. It was therefore good to do it with Karen, who knows the route well and also showed us how it links with the Hole in the Wall Route.

The views over Orangekloof are wonderful and scrambling behind the rock faces is quite interesting and surprising in places. There are some slightly exposed paths around the front of the ledge, but in most instances there are alternative routes around the back, where gaps open up unexpectedly in front of you. In some cases you have to look for the entry points and squeeze into places that look a bit inaccessible. Although narrow in places they are easy to get through once you see the route. There are impressive sandstone cliffs above you with some protruding rock overhangs all the way along the route – hence it’s name.

The path is clear in most places, but not always. It is essential to do the route with someone who knows the way. We had tea at the end of the ‘Overhang’ trail, enjoying looking down into Orangekloof and over Hout Bay. The path to the top of the ridge and then down into the valley below is not clear and you really have to look for the cairns. Once in the valley, the path links back to the concrete road and Overseers Cottage around the corner.
Your Cape Town Host

For information on guided day walks and overnight hiking trails in TableMountain contact Frank

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Filed under Adventure, Day Hikes, Day Trekking, Day Walks, Outdoor, Table Mountain, Trekking South Africa, Western Cape Hiking Trails

Simonstown to Smitswinkel section of Hoerikwaggo Trail

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: frank@slackpackersa.co.za

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Filed under Day Hikes, Day Walks, Information, News, Outdoor, overnight trails, Slackpacker, Table Mountain, Western Cape Hiking Trails

Slangkop Redhill section of Hoerikwaggo Trail

Slangkop Redhill March 2011

Probably the easiest and shortest section of the Hoerikwaggo Trail, nevertheless, challenging on a really hot day at 35 degrees C. Starting with a short and easy up hill section to veiws overlooking Kommetjie and Slangkop Lighthouse. Pass by some interesting WW 2 look out points and old barracks. Fairly easy going from there, until down hill to Ocean View. Lots of alien vegetation at this point and lets down the prestine nature of the rest of the trail. Up and down some long, rocky, but easy going slopes through some wonderful countryside – looking forward to the promised swim in the dam. About three hours to this point and welcome lunch and dip. After lunch about one hour walk, almost flat, going back to Redhill and the cars. Lizards, sunbirds and a beautiful Rock Kestrel. Now to find a way down in to Simonstown for overnight on this section.

For details of guided hiking or overnight trails in Table Mountain contact Frank

Your Cape Town Host

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Table Mountain Trail – Mark and Jane

Hello Frank,
Yes, we both arrived back in the UK on separate flights about 45 mins apart on Tues. It was FREEZING when we got off the planes! We miss the blue sky, bright sunshine and wonderful scenery. The memories will stay with us for a very long time.
As for your tour – we were very impressed with the organisation of it all. We appreciated being collected from the airport, and enjoyed the short stay at the wash houses. The double hammocks and outdoor dining area, all at the foot of Table Mountain, added to the atmosphere.
You found a real diamond with Warren. He was very easy to get on with and we had a similar sense of humour. His knowledge of the mountain, it’s flora and fauna, were excellent, and he appeared able to judge the sort of trails to follow based on our perceived fitness.
Staying at the cottage was very special. Yes, we knew you weren’t supposed to swim in the dam but the water was lovely and cool!
The braai was great, as was the very drinkable SA red wine! The sunset and sunrise were spectacular, as was the view over the Cape flats (by day and night).
Day 2 was just as challenging, and I (Mark) found out I suffered from vertigo the hard way!
Descending the gorge was very challenging and hot, and reaching the bottom (firm, flat ground!) completed our hike.
We have given your numbers to Jane’s sister Elaine, who may be able to contact you (but we’re not sure what their schedule will allow).
We would recommend your company to anyone who asked, and would certainly use it again ourselves. To do what many South Africans themselves have never done was again quite special.
Please say hello to Warren (the maverick!) for us.
Best wishes,
Mark and Jane

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