Category Archives: Trekking South Africa

Table Mountain Trail – Dec 2012

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Table Mountain Trail van Vuuren family, a set on Flickr.

Table Mountain Trail with the van Vuuren family – Dec 2012

Johan had been planning this pre-Christmas Table Mountain Trail overnight hiking trip since the beginning of May this year, so when the day finally arrived it felt as if I already knew the family well. The original plan was to start at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and take the reasonably easy route up Skeleton Gorge to Smuts Track and the cottage. The prediction of rain for the 24th however, dictated a rethink, as hiking in the rain would have meant missing out on the views from the top of the mountain. The alternative was to start at Table Mountain cable station and do the trail in the opposite direction, either using the cable car to get to the top or to take the steep walking route up Platteklip Gorge. I was quite impressed when they all made the decision to tackle the ‘Gorge’.

The climb up Platteklip Gorge covers a distance of about 2 km in the ascent of the zig-zag path, from just over 300 metres on Tafelberg Rd. to just over 1000 metres at the top. For those not used to this type of walking it can be quite a challenge, particularly on a hot day. The day was one of the hotter days we had experienced this summer, so it was never going to be easy. The girls were up for it and ready to set the pace, but the adults took it slow and steady, particularly as we got higher up the slope, where patches of shade are scarce. Nevertheless, with plenty of stops to ‘admire the view’, take photographs and to make sure hydration levels were maintained, everyone made it. The biggest mistake that is made on this route is not taking enough water.

Once at the top we headed to the restaurant near the cable station, for a welcome cold drink, plenty of ice and recovery, ready for the easier, but longer trek across the mountain to Maclears Beacon and eventually, the Overseers Cottage. Leaving at about 1 pm., we retraced our steps to the beacon on Platteklip Gorge and then across the flat plain to the highest point. From here, we caught a glimpse of Overseers Cottage, our overnight accommodation, tantalizingly in the distance. The feature of this route is the ever changing views, and after Maclear’s Beacon the ever changing terrain along Smuts Track (named after the war time Prime Minister of South Africa, who was himself a keen mountain hiker).

Quite soon after leaving Maclear’s Beacon, the outlook shifts from one of Table Bay to the north, to one of the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town, the Cape Flats and False Bay to the east and Hout Bay and the Back Table of the Mountain to the west. To the south, hidden behind the mountains above Simonstown, is Cape Point. On a good day, this has to be one of the most spectacular trekking routes in the world.

Adel was struggling with sore feet, so going was slow, but who needs to hurry with views like this and when you are in part of the most diverse floral kingdom in the world. The view of the cottage disappeared as we headed down to the valley above Window Gorge, past Echo Valley and the Aquaduct. Some of us took a short diversion in to the Aquaduct to view the beautiful, delicate drip disas sprouting improbably from the rock face. Then it was off to the top of Skeleton Gorge and Nursery Ravine before finally coming out of Ash Valley to see the Cottage in front of us again, almost within touching distance now. This was a welcome site and the girls rushed ahead to reach the comfort of getting the shoes off and having a shower. By the time the rest of us got there they were already looking relaxed and refreshed. Vicky was there with the basic meal preparation already complete and it remained only for me to get the fire going for the evening braai.

Once Adel got her shoes off the cause of the sore feet was revealed in a huge blister on the big toe. My admiration for her increased immensely, that must have been very sore to walk with.

As is usual in this cosy cottage, once the feet are up and drinks in hand, the memory of the painful feet and sore muscles fades, while the magic of the environment and walking in this very special part of Table Mountain and the Cape Floral Kingdom remains. The tradition of the South African braai, stimulates interesting conversation and creates friendships and this night was no different.

With rain predicted for the morning and thoughts of further exploring of the Back Table banished for the moment, there were some tired bodies that hit the beds that night, looking forward to reasonably late sleep in.

During the night the wind came up and by the time we woke there was plenty of cloud about, vindicating the decision to walk the trail in reverse. At times it looked as if the rain would pass us by and then suddenly the cloud would be all around and a rain squall would set in, before moving on again, leaving light mist and views of the cloud bank below. After a bit of lie in, breakfast was ready. Over breakfast, the decision was made that Adel and Nina would go with Vicky down the shortest route to Constania Nek and the car, while I would take Johan and the other two girls down via Cecelia Forest to the finish in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Fortunately the rain had more or less passed over by this time and we had a dry walk down to meet Vicky and the others in the Gardens.

Johan treated us all to a wonderful end of hike lunch at the Forresters Arms. A fitting finish for a superb two day trail. I feel very privileged to be able to lead such diverse and interesting people on trails in this part of the world.

Your Cape Town Host

For guided day walks in Table Mountain or a variety of overnight trails please contact us by completing the Contact form or e-mail frank@slackpackersa.co.za

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Marita & Joseph Cederberg Tour

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Marita & Joseph Cederberg Tour, a set on Flickr.

Tour to the Cederberg via the West Coast and returning through the Gydo Pass and Ceres

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Cederberg Tour with Marita & Joseph

A great four day tour, including some short walks and a trek up to the Maltese Cross. The sunset at Gecko Creek on our first evening was quite stunning and the rainbow on the second evening added to that.

On the second day, after the short hike along the Savilla Rock Art trail, the drive to Wuppertal was quite an experience with unequalled view of the Cederberg. The next day was for the longer hike up to the Maltese Cross, a visit to the historic Stadsaal and wine tasting at Cederberg Vineyards. We finished on the last day with a two hour walk through the amazing rock formations of the Lot’s Wife Trail.

More on this tour to follow.

Tour for Afruka Eco Tours: www.afrukaecotours.co.za ; info@afrukaecotours.co.za

Marita & Joseph Cederberg Oct 2012

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Lot’s Wife Trail – Cederberg

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These amazing rock formations are on the Lot’s Wife Trail, in the central Cederberg, near Dwars Rivier. On tour with Marita & Joseph, we were looking for a last, short walk before returning to Cape Town. I had bypassed this trail many times before, but always focused on the Maltese Cross & Wolfberg Cracks. It really a worthwhile diversion, as the photos show, but in reality, are even more impressive.

The trail is also very close to the Cederberg Cellars, where one can finish off the hike with wine tasting.

Tour for Afruka Eco Tours: www.afrukaecotours.co.za ; contact: info@afrukaecotours.co.za

Gallery for Lot’s Wife Trail – Cederberg:

Lot’s Wife Trail – Cederberg

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Ceres Valley

Gydo Pass Oct 2012Ceres Valley Oct 2012

Ceres Valley, a set on Flickr.

Two wonderful stitched pictures taken from the Gydo Pass on a return trip from a walking tour in the Cederberg. Showing the Ceres Valley and part of the Swartruggens Mountains.

Tour for Afruka Eco Tours: www.afrukaecotours.co.za ; contact: info@afrukaecotours.co.za

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Shelley & Meier Tour Oct 2012

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Shelley & Meier Tour Oct 2012, a set on Flickr.

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: info@afrukaecotours.co.za

Day 1

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.

Gallery:

Cederberg Shelley & Meier Day 1
Cederberg Shelley & Meier Day 2
Cederberg Shelley & Meier Day 3

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Cederberg Day 1 – Maltese Cross

Cederberg Shelley & Meier Day 1

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 info@afrukaecotours.co.za

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