Hike South Africa


Hoerikwaggo (Orange Kloof)

Hoerikwaggo is the original Khoi’san word for mountain in the sea, the Khoi’san’s name for Table Mountain.

The Hoerikwaggo trail is currently a work in progress that will ultimately end up in a 5 day traverse of Table Mountain from Cape Point to the cable car station. Completion is expected in 2009. Currently there are two trails open, both being one night and two days in length. The one starts in Kommetjie and overnights in Silvermine, while the second starts in Silvermine and overnights in Orange Kloof.

The trails are run by the Table Mountain National Park, part of SANParks, further information is available on their website.

I was pondering whether I should admit to doing this “hike” as it is a slackpacker trail, and caters more for the tourists than those wanting to hike. If you ever on Table Mountain and encounter a group of old pale pommies guided by in shape locals then you will realise how relatively easy this hike is compared to whats on offer in the Western Cape. The hikes are guided, and all your gear and food are transported to the overnight stop for you by car. All you need to carry is your snacks and liquids for the hike. Warning, this isnt cheap, it cost us R300 odd in December 2007, I think now its about R400 per person. But it is a brilliant escape on Table Mountain, the opportunity to sleep in nature a mere couple of hundred meters away from upmarket Constantia is rare, and the second day route takes you up through the restricted indigenous orange kloof Afromontane forest. This combined with the accommodation and the helpful and informative guides make this an unforgettable experience.

The guides will walk at the pace of your party, on our group there were four of us 20-somethings and eight “older” members of society. The young guns walked at our own pace in the front with one guide, while the other guide provided frail care for the rest. ( I jest, one day too soon I will be hobbling alone drooling and muttering) Along the way the guides will inform you on the local flora and fauna and the history of some of the parts of the trail.

Silvermine to Orange Kloof

The trail starts at the Silvermine Dam at the top of Ou Kaap se Weg and heads gently up in a northly direction, with views of the southern suburbs and the peninsula.

Silvermine

The path will swing left of the large hill familiarly known as elephants eye and shortly you will arrive at a lookout deck with magnificent views of Hout Bay.

The path drops rapidly to the contour and continues north with the views of Hout Bay to the North-West and Chapman’s Peak to the South.

Eventually the path will start heading up a bit past an old magnesium mine. Further on there is a small ravine that may have water flowing depending on past rain falls. This makes for an early lunch spot.

The path will eventually lead you to the other side of the elephant eye hill where you hit a tar road for a short stretch before the path returns to take you north with the back table in the distance.

After climbing up slightly and around a small peak you will find yourself overlooking the Constantia valley with some impressive looking farm houses.

The hike will see you hit the road and head towards the traffic circle at the top of constantia nek. If you feel the need a beer will go down well at the Constantia nek restaurant and pub. On the other side of the circle the path leads into the restricted access section and follows a gravel road to the tented accommodation.

Tented is a bit of an understatement, the tents are well kitted and the the kitchen/boma area is well set out and there is also a lookout deck. The hot showers even have the option of showering with an uncovered view of the natural surrounds.

The guides will get the braai started and cook for you, but if you are a real man you can assert your man ego and braai for yourself. The pit like nature of the braai can singe the hair on you legs though, it would have been better constructed if it was raised.

Orange Kloof to the cable car station.

The next day is shorter in distance but the better part of the morning consists of climbing out of the orange kloof valley. The day starts by trekking through the last remnants of the indigenous forest of Table Mountain. The is an old abandoned pump station situated in the heart of the forest.

Orange kloof is restricted from public access to prevent forest fires, but guided hikes can be booked at no cost. The path slowly heads up the ravine, where the stone wall of one of the dams on Table Mountain is visible to the east, and views of constania nek behind you.

The ravine starts to converge as you near the top, and eventually you find yourself standing under the dam wall of the Woodhead Reservoir.

fern

The route will take you past the dam and up a slight hill with great views over looking the dams for a lunch spot.

You head north and after a slight incline followed by a decline you find yourself in the middle of teh valley of isolation, where 2 paths cross. Keep going north, and up up out of the valley to find yourself on the front table, and within 20 minutes of the cable car station. In bad weather you can forget about the trip in the cable car, platteklip gorge will be your decent.

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