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Cape Point – Day Walk Alternatives

South African Trekking and Catered, Guided Multi-Day Hiking Trails

Cape Point - Meridian June 2015054

The Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve is one of our favourite areas for some reasonably easy but very rewarding hiking. The views down the False Bay side of the coast are quite extra-ordinary and the Atlantic Coast has some beautiful beach and the special interest of the Shipwreck Trail. Our regular, shorter, easier, circular routes are on the Atlantic Coast, with the slightly more strenuous options being on the False Bay coast.

A spate of recent fires in the greater Table Mountain National Park did not leave this area untouched, with a freak lightening strike igniting a fire along the Atlantic Coast, just at a time when the Silvermine fires were being brought under control. For the short term, this means that most of our Atlantic side trails are closed.

Cape Point - Meridian June 2015180With this in mind we have been exploring the options on the more spectacular False Bay coast. The best…

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Kasteelspoort rain challenge

Kasteelspoort rain challenge_001 With winter finally coming to Cape Town, the hiking enthusiasts, especially the weekend are faced with the temptation to curl up in bed with a good book on a Sunday morning, instead of getting out there and enjoying the Mountain in the rain. Hannes (hike leader) thought the only way to overcome this was to issue a challenge to motivate a few stalwarts in to action.
Kasteelspoort rain challenge_015It did not seem to have much effect however as only two of us joined him. Nevertheless it was a very rewarding hike, with the rain staying away for the most part. Parking at Kloofnek, so that we could do a circular route, we hiked along the Table Mountain Pipe Track, meeting plenty of runners and a few walkers on this section, until we came to the Kasteelspoort path intersection. I always enjoy this path as it is steep enough to be challenging but has enough variation and views to distract from the effort.

Kasteelspoort rain challenge_012At the top there were quite a few surprising displays of pink Watsonias, deep blue Arosteas and bright red and white Anaxeton and some fading King Proteas.

It looked as if we were going to have a rain free hike, but as often happens in our Mountain, what it looks like and what happens is not always the same. As we climbed out of the Valley of the Red Gods, the rain started to come down. As it was heading for lunch time, we found shelter in the cave in the Valley of Isolation. In spite of the stream running through the middle and the waterfall on the outside we managed to find dry places to sit and enjoy our snacks and flasks of hot drinks.

Kasteelspoort rain challenge_016As we moved on the rain was more of a light misty drizzle with a weak sun trying to break through every now and again. Hopeful of avoiding the steep trek down Platteklip Gorge, we headed through Echo Valley and up the short ladders to the cable station. As we got closer the clouds cleared for a moment, showing off the beaches of Camps Bay and the rough seas beyond. Very close to the top, was a royal display of red King protea, contrasting with a magnificent golden brown of a fading group retained their shape and beauty in spite of the colour loss.

Kasteelspoort rain challenge_027We reached the cable station just in time to grab a quick cup of coffee, before the cableway closed and we caught one of the last rides down for the day. Pleased with ourselves for having met the challenge we headed for the one of our favourite watering holes and a well deserved beer.

 

Kasteelspoort rain challenge – May 2015

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Vlakkenberg Ridge – aftermath of the fire

Vlakkenberg Ridge - Fire aftermath April 2015_0001

As I get the opportunity to walk through the fire affected areas of Vlakkenberg and Silvermine and all the areas in between, I will publish my photos and reflections on the destruction and the recovery. This is the first of those as I got to walk on Vlakkenberg Ridge yesterday.

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The walk up from Constantia Nek shows just how close the fire came to descending in to Constantia Nek itself and the potential for crossing over the road. We can be grateful that this did not happen as there are huge stands of gum trees and other alien vegetation in this area.

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Looking across from the saddle the burnt area extends as far as the eye can see, over the Constantiaberg and across to Silvermine and Muizenberg Peak. Looking down to the Constantia vineyards, there is stark contrast between the green of agricultural area and the burnt National Park and pine forest. It also highlights how close it came the residential areas.

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The area on top of the ridge is a desolate landscape with contract between the white of the underlying sand and blackened protea bushes. Nevertheless, the green restios with blackened tips are pushing through, growing quickly to provide the signs of new life and the messenger of things to come.

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Standing out among the new growth are the bright orange paintbrush flowers that are popping up in a few places, one of them attracting a beautiful butterfly, quietly going about it’s work of pollination.

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Down in the valley below there is a ridge of Silvertrees that stand out as what seems to have been a barrier to the fire, bearing out what I was told about the fire dying down when it came in to contact with these unique species.

Amazing how the Silvertrees seemed to have stopped the fire there.

There are many small signs of new life, although the recovery to it’s full former condition with the stunning flowering protea, is clearly going to be a long way off. Monitoring the changes over the next few months and years is going to be an interesting exercise. A link to the full album of pictures is below.

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Vlakkenberg Ridge – Fire aftermath April 2015

Red Disa hike with Meridian Hiking Club

Meridian - Red Disa hike - Jan 2014_0007 Meridian - Red Disa hike - Jan 2014_0012 Meridian - Red Disa hike - Jan 2014_0014 Meridian - Red Disa hike - Jan 2014_0018 Meridian - Red Disa hike - Jan 2014_0023 Meridian - Red Disa hike - Jan 2014_0025 Meridian - Red Disa hike - Jan 2014_0026Perfect day to hike up Skeleton Gorge to see the red disas. All in full bloom at the moment, it is a magnificent site in a maginficent setting. We are so priviledged to live where we do and be able to experience the flora of this great place. The disas are out in Window Stream, the Aquaduct Path and a few in Nursery Ravine. Great day, great group and nice picnic in the shade in Nursery Valley.

Meridian – Red Disa hike – Jan 2014

South African Trekking and Catered, Guided Multi-Day Hiking Trails

Skeleton Gorge and the Aquaduct – Red & Blue Disas and more

Saturday was a perfect Cape Town day for a hike up the southern side of Table Mountain, in search of the Red disa (Disa uniflora). These magnificent flowers only show themselves towards the end of January and usually fade away around the end of February. How quickly time flies when one wants to do something like this, before you know what has happened they have disappeared for another year. This year I have been lucky to see them in two different places, Myburgh and Disa Ravine, but they are always most prolific in the Window Gorge Stream and Aquaduct areas.

The weather was a bit cooler than it has been lately, with a little bit of cloud around to bring the temperatures down. From Cecelia Forest we headed up to the Contour Path and on to Skeleton Gorge…

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South African Trekking and Catered, Guided Multi-Day Hiking Trails

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Walking in the rain is ok as long as you start in the dry. Saturday was different. Karen had organised a permit for Orangekloof – limited to 12 people per day and very much in demand at this time of the year, with the Red disas in bloom. It was raining as we started – not too heavily but clearly not likely to lift any time soon. But with permits in short supply and looking like a hardy group we put on our waterproofs and set out anyway.

At the start it was not too bad, just a few drips and plenty of mist, with more moisture generated from inside the rain gear than from outside. It certainly was not cold. We had planned to do Hell’s Gate and climb up to the Woodhead Tunnel, but with the wet it was going to be too slippery, so we turned off…

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South African Trekking and Catered, Guided Multi-Day Hiking Trails

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Myburgh Ravine Family Hike, a set on Flickr.

With my sister out from Canada and Lindsay about to start a new job on Friday, we decided to take the opportunity on Wednesday to hike up Myburgh Ravine to see the red disas (Disa uniflora). These beautiful flowers are only seen between the end of January and the first few weeks of February and only in few locations on Table Mountain and some of the surrounding mountains. Inevitably unless you make a plan and get out and see them, the time passes quickly and they fade and are gone before you get there.

It was a misty morning, but cool and beautiful for walking. I had not done the route for quite a while and was pleased that Peter, who had done it the week before, had decided to join us. Starting in Hout Bay we had initially planned to…

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