History & Present

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For more information on our guided hiking trails, catering or logistical support please complete the TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM or e-mail info@slackpackersa.co.za

Hoerikwaggo Trail – History & Current Situation

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Hoerikwaggo Trail start – Cape Point

The idea for a hiking trail running the down the spine of the Table Mountain chain was probably dreamed about by many enthusiastic hikers over the years. It was first seriously thought about during the nineties and finally planning started in the early part of the new millennium. The original idea was to create a backpacking trail supported by a series of strategically situated camps.

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The goal – Table Mountain

Further investigation resulted in the proposal to establish four different trails:

  • the first, a guided trail adhering to the original plan, with the trail starting in Cape Point (Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve) and finishing on Table Mountain;
  • a second, unguided trail using the same route in reverse;
  • a third, shorter, three day trail aimed at the top end ‘slackpacking’ market, using refurbished accommodation at the Platteklip Wash House and Overseers Cottage and the existing paths to finish in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens;
  • finally a two day one night, educational trail for community, youth & school groups using the Peoples Bungalow on the Back Table.
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The finish – Platteklip Gorge

Although the trails were to be separate trails, with separate routes and separate accommodation facilities, they were all to be marketed and operated under the name Hoerikwaggo Trails.

Hoerikwaggo is the original Khoi Khoi name for Table Mountain, meaning the ‘Mountain in the Sea’ or ‘Sea Mountain’. The Khoi Khoi were the indigenous inhabitants of the Cape at the time of the establishment of the settlement by the Dutch East India Company in 1652.

Table Mountain Hiking Trial

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Platteklp Wash House – luxury hiking

The third option, initially named as the ‘White Cloud Trail’, was the first to become operational, with the refurbishment of the Platteklip Wash Houses, above van Riebeeck Park, on the boundary of the Cape Town city bowl suburb of Oranjezicht. The venue has great historical significance and was tastefully refurbished and redecorated to provide comfortable accommodation for up to sixteen hikers. The original trail started in the V&A Waterfront and included an historical guided tour through the Waterfront, the City, the Company Gardens and the suburbs on the lower slopes of Table Mountain, finishing at the overnight venue in time for rest, drinks and dinner.

Overseers Cottage

Hiking trail comfort – Overseers Cottage

On the final day, included an exploration of the Back Table and the historic reservoirs, with a visit to the site of the original construction cable way docking station at Kasteelspoort. This includes magnificent the views over the Atlanitic Coast and Camps Bay. The finish was in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.

This trail was opened in 2005 as a fully catered trail, with guiding provided by specially trained ‘Hoerikwaggo’ guides. The accommodation was fully serviced, with white linen, warm duvets and hot showers. Unfortunately it did not attract quite the attention it deserved and after undergoing various adaptations the accommodation was converted to self-catering facilities at some stage during 2009.

Current situation

This trail is no longer operated in this form by Table Mountain National Park. The facilities are still available, fully serviced and can be booked on a self-catering basis through SANParks booking system. Guiding services are no longer offered directly by TMNP. It is not necessary to hike the whole trail in order to use the accommodation, but groups do have to walk up to the facility using one of the various routes from the Southern Suburbs, Table Mountain (City) or the Atlantic Seaboard. Transport of luggage and food is provided by TMNP, by arrangement.

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Hike through Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

A fully catered and guided version of this trail is also available through Slackpacker SA. We refer to this as the Table Mountain Trial, which usually starts in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and finishes at the lower cable station on Table Mountain. The walk up through the Gardens makes an interesting start and the route to the Cottage is an easier option than that up of the trek up Platteklip Gorge. A minimum number of six hikers is required to operate the trail as standard rates. The guided city tour is no longer offered as part of the this package, although guided walking tours of the city can be arranged as an optional extra. All our guides are fully accredited mountain guides and tour guides.

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Group and trail guide – Overseers Cottage

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

The Hoerikwaggo Hiking Trail

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Cape Point – where the Mountain meets the sea

The original plan for the longer route from Cape Point to Table Mountain took a bit more time to develop. The concept was for a trail from the lighthouse at Cape Point and finishing at the lower cable station on Table Mountain. Altogether a six day trek, with five strategically placed comfortable, fixed tented camps. The trail was to be guided by specially trained guides, self-catering, but with luggage and food transported.

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Tented Camp – Orangekloof

The site chosen for the construction of the first of the tented camp, was in the restricted area of Orangekloof. This valley was a bit of a mystery to many Capetonians as it was always a place with access by permit only. Originally controlled by the City, management of the area passed to SANParks with the establishment of Table Mountain National Park in 1998.

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Woodhead water tunnel on Disa Gorge

The camp, made up of fixed tents was opened in September 2006. The construction is on permanent wooden bases made from timber from cleared alien trees. There are four two sleeper tents and one four sleeper tent, with central ablutions and a communal kitchen and braai (barbeque) area. The kitchen is fully equipped with cutlery, crockery and cooking utensil, as well as a gas hob and wood burning Agar stove. There are electrical plugs in the kitchen. All buildings and furniture are of wood made from alien timber and the construction has been done on a ‘touch the earth lightly’ principle. Should the camp be decommissioned at any time in the future there should be little, if any evidence of its existence. The first trail on this section of the trek, took place shortly after opening. The route was from Silvermine to Orangekloof via Blackburn Ravine and Vlakkenberg (Day 1) and Orangekloof to Table Mountain via Disa Gorge and Echo Valley (Day 2).

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Disa uniflora – end of January & February

The next camp at Silvermine was opened in April 2007, with the next section of the trail being from Kommetjie (Slangkop Lighthouse) to Silvermine. Located close to the Silvermine Dam, the camp has a similar configuration: four two sleeper tents, one four sleeper, a central ablution area and a communal catering area with gas hob, Agar stove and braai area. There is electrical lighting but no plugs.

Silvermine camp kitchen & braai
Tented Camp – Silvermine

It was expected by many that the rest of the camps would follow fairly quickly after this and that the trail would be open and operational within a year or two. This was not to be and the Slangkop Lighthouse camp followed only in 2009, with six two sleeper tents. This was the first camp to be fully electrified, with a gas stove and oven replacing the wood burning Agar stoves. Finally the Smitswinkel Bay camp was completed in August 2010, with six two sleeper tents with en-suite showers and individual kitchens. Each camp is unique both in design and décor, being built to blend in with the environment and adapted for local climate and environmental conditions.

Looking in to Hout Bay from Chapmans Peak path

A hikers view of Hout Bay

By the time the final camp was built the concept of a regular trail between Cape Point and Table Mountain, managed and marketed by Table Mountain National Park had been abandoned. The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but the long time-line between the building of the first camp and the last one, was probably a contributing factor. Most of the guides trained originally to lead the Trails had left SANParks or moved to other positions within the Table Mountain National Park. The planned camp at Simonstown has never been built and the walking route between Smitswinkel Bay and Simonstown has been excluded from the Trail.

Current situation:

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Tented Camp at Slangkop

Each of the tented camps can be booked as accommodation only, with no requirements to hike the trail or even do any hiking at all. The tents are sold per unit, with a minimum booking being for a two man tent. With the exception of Smitswinkel Bay camp, ablution and kitchen facilities have to be shared with other guests. Beds with comfortable mattresses are provided, but guests need to provide their own pillows, bedding or sleeping bags. Hikers wishing to trek the whole route need to plan strategically and book the accommodation according to their own itinerary and group size. It is important to plan well in advance to ensure the accommodation is available.

The diving board at Kasteelspoort

The diving board overlooking Kasteelspoort

SANParks do not provide guides, nor do they provide logistical support, catering or any other support services. Hikers wishing to do the trail have to arrange their own logistical support, including road transport between Smitswinkel Bay and Simonstown. This route can be walked, but then private accommodation would need to be arrange in Simonstown, as TMNP do not provide facilities there.A fully guided and catered option for this trail is provided by Slackpacker SA, a minimum number of six people is required to operate the trail, with fixed departure dates being arranged from time to time.

Platteklip Gorge the steep trek up

Platteklip Gorge – the end of the trail

For information on guiding, catering, transport and logistical support services visit Slackpackers SA, complete the TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM or e-mail info@slackpackersa.co.za

The route that is promoted by Table Mountain National Parks, is:

  • Day 1: Trek from Cape Point to Smitswinkel Bay along the False Bay coastal path.
  • Day 2: Hikers arrange their own transport from Smitswinkel to Simonstown, starting the hike at Red Hill, via Kleinplaas Dam to Slangkop. There is an alternative start in Simonstown at the Klawer Steps, for a slightly longer route.
  • Day 3: Slangkop to Silvermine via Noordhoek Beach, Chapmans Peak and Silvermine Ridge.
  • Day 4: Silvermine to Orangekloof via Blackburn Ravine, the contour path, Manganese Mine, Vlakkenberg and Constantia Nek.
  • Day 5: Orangekloof to the end on Table Mountain cable way via Disa Gorge, the Dams, Echo Valley and the ladders to the cable station. Descend via cable car or walk down Platteklip Gorge.
The finish (or start) on Platteklip Gorge

The finish at the bottom of Platteklip Gorge

The trail can be done as one complete five day trail or in sections of two days or more. The route is marked with yellow painted HK posts at strategically important places; nevertheless there are still a few places where a wrong turn can be made at an intersection, particularly in adverse weather conditions. It is advisable to have at least one member of the party who knows Table Mountain and the route, hike with a hiking club or enlist the services of a trained mountain guide.Details of each camp and the description of the routes are provided on a separate page.

For more information on our guided hiking trails, catering or logistical support please complete the TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM or e-mail info@slackpackersa.co.za

One response to “History & Present

  1. Pingback: How to book the Hoerikwaggo Trail. | Table Mountain Hiking Trails

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