Tag Archives: Hoerikwaggo

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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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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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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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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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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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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Slackpacker SA

Now THIS is the way to experience the outdoors!

  • You want to have an active, outdoor holiday and experience South African trekking – but you want to travel light
  • You want to walk the trails – but all you want to carry is your water, lunch, waterproofs and camera
  • You want to breathe the fresh air, smell the fynbos, absorb the views and feed your soul – but you want a guide to lead the way
  • Come the end of the day, you want your drink cold, your shower hot, your meal home cooked and your accommodation comfortable – but you want to be spared the logistics and the schlep

Well, congratulations – you’ve come to the right place – that’s what Slackpacking is all about

  • ……….. and if you don’t have the time or the inclination to hike the overnight trails we can guide you on some amazing day walks in most parts of  Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula.

For more information complete the TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM or e-mail info@slackpackersa.co.za or read on.

Slackpacker SA offers multi-day trails that last from two to six days. Overnight stops are in top-notch camps or lodges set in beautiful surroundings. You’ll have your own qualified guide with all the specialist knowledge required. You’ll be shuttled to and from the beginning and end-points and your luggage will be transferred between overnight venues. Best of all, you’ll be served a home-cooked meal and a choice of drinks at the end of the day’s trek. After an active day and good company you will sleep comfortably in serviced accommodation.

Great hikes, great photo opportunities, great chat, great memories

For those with less time, there are day hikes on Table Mountain and in the Cape Point Nature Reserve, as well as walking-tours in the Cape Winelands.

Based in Cape Town, in the Western Cape, we operate within the Table Mountain National Park – stretching from the city centre to Cape Point, 60 km away – as well as in the Cape Winelands, Garden Route, Overberg and West Coast. We also partner with trails on the Wild Coast, in the KwaZulu Natal Drakensberg and other parts of South Africa. But wherever we take you, it’ll be in true Slackpacker SA style.

Traditional South African hospitality, exquisite natural scenery
and healthy physical activity all rolled into one

Slackpacker SA can also take care of the tour arrangements for your entire visit – your itinerary, accommodation, airport shuttles, visits to interesting venues and attractions, wine tours and other outdoor activities. You could join one of our pre-arranged tours, or we could create a private itinerary just for you.

Whether you join us as individuals, couples or groups, for a special event or as a team-building group for a corporate event, rather focus on the serious business of having a good time – and let us take care of the rest.

Imagine waking up on top of a mountain in a Natural World Heritage Site, in the middle of a vibrant city!
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