Hoerikwaggo Trail – History & Current Situation
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.