Tag Archives: Luxury hiking

How to book the Hoerikwaggo Trail.

Read our summary of the Hoerikwaggo Trail on the Table Mountain Hiking Trails blog and decide how you want to do it. For additional information you can also read the background History & Present development status.

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1. You want to do it all yourself

Contact the SANParks booking office and book the accommodation directly. Rates, availability and on-line booking of the various tented camps can be checked on-line via the SANParks – TMNP web site.

Table Mountain National Park do not provide logistical support, guiding or catering and you need to ensure that there is accommodation availability at each of the tented camps in the sequence in which you want to use them. The trail is planned to be walked from South to North, but can be walked in the opposite direction.

2. You want us to provide one or more of guiding, transport or catering services

You do the booking, but you want one of the above services, look at our Slackpacking Rates under Individual Services, fill out the TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM and tell us what you want.

3. You want us to do everything

Option 1.

Make up a party of between six and ten of your friends, tell us when you want to do it and whether you want to do all or part of the trail. If you want to do one or two nights only tell us which part. We will do the rest.

Option 2.

Plan your holiday or your hike well in advance around one of the fixed departure dates. This means that you will join a group that is leaving on a specific date, usually a Mondy. We only do this about four times a year and departure is subject to a minimum booking by at least six people. In the case of individuals, there may be a single supplement if you want your own private accommodation.

See Trail Departures on our blog or ask about dates on the TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM. These dates are fixed 6 to 12 months in advance and have to be confirmed at least three months in advance in order to secure the accommodation.

Option 3.

Book a private trail on a date that is convenient to you. This is a more expensive option if the party is smaller than six and price would depend on the number in the party. We would quote for this on an individual basis.

Option 4.

Give us a date, or range of dates, that is convenient to you, together with the size of your party and we will try to market it as a fixed departure date. The further in advance this is done the higher the chances of success, but we can never be sure that we will get additional bookings.

For more information:

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

The Hoerikwaggo Trail History & Present (part 2)

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

Hoerikwaggo Trail History & Present (part 1)

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 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.

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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 .

Table Mountain Multi-Day Hiking Trails

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Table Mountain and Lions Head

These pages are dedicated to trying to unpack some of the confusion about the various multi-day trails in Table Mountain and how the overnight facilities operate.The pages are managed by Slackpacker SA and although we offer catering, logistical support and guiding by qualified mountain guides, we provide you with the information that will assist you in assessing the alternatives.

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If you are looking for any or all of these services, please complete the TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM

From Blackburn Ravine - towards Hout Bay

Hout Bay from Blackburn Ravine – Hoerikwaggo Trail

All the overnight facilities within the Table Mountain National Park, including the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve, are managed by SA National Parks and can be booked through SANParks booking system. While we try to keep up to date with the way these facilities are managed, changes do take place from time to time and Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP)management are under no obligation to inform us.

There are two recognised and designated hiking trails: the two day, Cape Point Hiking Trail in the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve and the five day Hoerikwaggo Trail, from Cape Point to Table Mountain. There is a third trail that we describe as the Table Mountain Trail, based around the use of Overseers Cottage, although there are various paths and routes that can be associated with this facility. These hiking routes are described separately in more detail, together with some background and history on the Hoerikwaggo trek and the alternatives.

Accommodation

There are three types of facilities available that can be linked to multi-day hiking trails:

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Overseers Cottage – Table Mountain Trail

1.       Overseers Cottage

Associated with the Table Mountain Trail:

Situated close to de Villiers Dam on the Back Table Jeep Track, this is a stone built facility providing accommodation for up to 16 people, in two cottages. Klipspringer, the main cottage, sleeps 10 and Disa, just next door sleeps 6 …..read more.

2.       Hoerikwaggo Tented Camps (4)

Orangekloof Tented Camp - Hoerikwaggo Trail

Orangekloof Tented Camp – Hoerikwaggo Trail

There are four tented camps. They are comfortable, permanent structures, originally built as part of the proposed Hoerikwaggo Trail, from Cape Point to Table Mountain  ….. read more

3.       Cape Point Hiking Trail Bungalows

The Cape Point Hiking Trail is the oldest and most established of the trekking routes in the Cape Peninsula. There is accommodation for up to 18 hikers inside the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve. The beds are comfortable, but the facilities fairly basic. There is no access by private vehicle and it can only be booked if you are hiking the trail …. Read more .

TRAIL ENQUIRY FORM

There are alternative accommodation facilities within the Reserve for non-hikers.

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

My family and I had a great time on our recent Table Mountain hike with Frank. Frank was very patient with us and provided great guidance all the way. We learned a lot about the Mountain’s history as well as the fauna and flora. Meals and over-night accommodation arragements were wonderful. A big “thank you” to Frank and his team! Johan

Like · · December 29, 2012 at 2:22pm

Table Mountain Trail – July 2012

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The Bauer family on an overnight trek on Table Mountain. Starting in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, we hiked up to the Overseers Cottage. There was a bit of rain about, so we dried out and had lunch before setting off to explore the Back Table of the Mountain. The rain was sufficiently light not to deter us and we were lucky enough that the mist cleared over Kasteelspoort to give us a view over the Atlantic Ocean and Camps Bay. The younger family members took the jeep track back to the cottage while the rest of us hiked through Nursery Ravine path and on to Smuts Track. Back at the Cottage, after a bit of a struggle we managed to get the fire going and warmed up quickly. That evening we had a nice hot mixed ‘potjiekos’ for dinner with couscous and vegetable bake accommpanied by a nice bottle of Wolftrap red wine. Malva Pudding finished off the dinner.

The next morning the rain had cleared away, although the cloud sat over most of the city for the whole day. We were above the cloud, making for a magnificent view. There were a few detours to look at views (over Orangekloof) and the interesting ‘beach’ on Skeleton Gorge. After lunch we arrived at Maclears Beacon, the highest point of the Mountain, at 1084 metres. Then it was on to the cable station for a quick look around at the 360 degree views of the City of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula, before the trek down Platteklip Gorge and the end of the Trail.

Your Cape Town Host

Table Mountain Trail – Bauer Family July 2012

Simonstown to Smitswinkel section – Hoerikwaggo Trail

This is a write up of the section of the Hoerikwaggo Trail between Simonstown and Smitswinkel Bay. It is not included in the official trail as there is no SANParks managed accommodation in the Simonstown area. On the official brochure it is the section between Smitswinkel Bay and Simonstown where transport is required.

Nevertheless it is a stunning section of the hiking trail and the natural link between the two points. It is challenging trek, particularly starting from Smitswinkel Bay, with a steep walk up the ridge.

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