Looking for new WC hikes off the beaten track


#1

Hi Everyone

I have been a voracious day/multi-day capetonian hiker for a decade or two and would like some of the locals to comment regarding some western cape trails they have found to be awesome for a 2 person hiking excursion. Please exclude any hikes listed below as we have completed these already:

Table mountain:

-Cape of Good Hope Hoerikwagga hikes

-Silvermine (elephant’s eye & tokai) and peer’s cave hikes

-Table mountain pipe track, skeleton gorge, nursery ravine, constantia nek, platteklip gorge, lion’s head, signal hill

-Tygerberg nature reserve hikes

West coast:

-Nature reserve day hikes

-Rocherpan day hike

Somerset west:

-Helderberg nature reserve day hikes

-Hottentots holland/boland trails

Stellenbosch:

-Simonsberg

-Jonkershoek nature reserve day hikes

Franschoek:

-Mont Rochelle day hikes

Tweede tol:

-day hikes

Worcester:

-Botanical garden day hikes

Montagu:

-Day hikes and climbing locations

Overberg:

-Hangklip peak

-Harold porter botanical garden day hikes

-Koggelberg Nature reserve day hikes

Stanford/Gansbaai:

-Walker bay day hikes

-Fynbos trail

-Platbos trails

Pearly beach/Die Dam/Agulhas/Stillbay day hikes

Knysna:

-Nature reserve hikes

-Botanical garden short walks

Plettenberg bay:

-Robberg nature reserve

Natures Valley:

-Day hikes

Storms River:

-Village day hikes

-Mouth day hikes

Baviaanskloof:

-Luiperd trail

Please also refrain from mentioning the following:

Strandloper trail, De Hoop whale trail, Boesmanskloof, Arangieskop, Swellendam, Tsitsikamma, Outeniqua, Harkerville, Otter multi day hikes…Also note most of the cederberg is closed till next year…

IF ANYONE has done the Swartberg hiking trail recently that would be awesome to know about…Also if the helderwater trails in hopefield are still doable? And has anyone done the Swarttobie hiking trail? I never hear about it anymore…


#2

Disa Gorge (Table Mountain)

Regarding the Cederberg, the northern section was untouched by the fire and offers amazing hiking opportunities. Also, the Duiwelsgat/Klein Duiwelsgat trail from Uitkyk Pass to the Sneeuberg hut is a must and is open.

For route description on those and more, check out the Western Cape section in our Trails category: http://www.hikingsouthafrica.co.za/category/trails/western-cape/


#3

Why not the Arangieskop Trail? This is the mother of all weekend trails in the WC. Tough, but stunning. You can also consider the Boosmansbos route (wilderness) near Heidelberg. Great hike! Derek


#4

The eastern side of the Cederberg also has some nice hikes (e.g. from Cederberg Oasis/Mount Ceder). That side of the Cederberg is drier and doesn’t really burn so is also generally safe from fire closures.

You could always consider joining the MCSA (if you’re not already a member), they also have some interesting properties and huts with fun (and sometimes tough) off the beaten track hikes.


#5

Check out the Gecko Trail traversing the Langeberg between Worcester and Montagu!!! It’s got three 14-17km sections, hence most will hike 2 of them consecutively. Pretty wild and tuff though.


#6

I’ve never heard of the Gecko Trail - looks great!


#7

Yeah it a rather quiet trail :wink: established in 2003 and also featured in Mike Lundy’s last edition of Weekend trails in the Western Cape.


#8

Definitely going to check it out soon :smiley::+1:


#9

Awesome trail! did it about 3 weeks ago


#10

Oorlogskloof Trails (multiple options) near Van Rhynsdorp


#11

Hey Safwat

How are you doing?
I’m still waiting for those epic pictures of your epic GECKO TRAIL hike :smile:

Regards
Jurgen from Simonskloof


#12

So get this… Since the recent fires, the following nature reserves have closed down hiking:
Goukamma NR (for the next 2 years)
Harkerville Coastal hikes (for the next year) a single short hike is open
George (Cradock peak as well as surrounding hikes)
Knysna (a portion of the hikes have been closed see SANParks)
Grootvadersbosch (Swellendam)
Marloth (10h and 12h peaks are closed)


#13

Yeah seems rather sad.
Now the question is WHY?
Does anybody know what exactly the thinking/reason behind the closing is?
Love to understand.

J.


#14

Well there is a few answers to that question:

  1. Damage to infrastructure
  2. Danger due to eroding ground
  3. Protection of endangered species

The most prominent reasons are normally liability issues… If the trail burns down then the stepping logs are unstable. I have personally seen a heli evac because someone ignored the rules and fell down a mountain. The ground/sand is unstable due to the lack of vegetation and can shift at any moment. Another possibility, that is often overlooked, is that tree roots can keep on smoldering underground for months after the fire i.e. causing random subsequent blazes. The aforementioned roots also form unstable pockets that can collaps in on itself at any time and is invisible to a hiker.

Lastly, the vegetation goes through several stages of recovery. A number of species only flower and seed in the month following the fire and may lay dormant for decades after the fire. They are considered endangered in some cases, but people do not realise this due to the numbers of flowering plants. As with disas, it is easier to keep people out of these areas than risk further endangering them. With ill defined paths it limits people trampling new vegetation.


#15

Thanks Gerda.
Very interesting points!
Sounds like you work for CN or SanPark or are an Environmental consultant?

It basically comes down to RESPONSIBILITY!

…neither CN/SanPark/Local municipalities who own those trails and lands are willing to take responsibility (worried that just in case someone does something stupid (!) while on their trails/land and then sues them…) plus better to let sleeping dogs sleep e.g. close an effected trail and hope people will forget about it and no further maintenance is ever needed…
AND the same if not first: The hikers/visitors on the trails and in the reserves are not responsible! They don’t want to have to think for themselves, about their actions as simple as putting one foot in front of the other or like leaving rubbish (be it sweet wrappers or loo paper along the trails or empty packets in huts and caves), then stepping off trails, short cutting… lack of respect towards natures and infrastructure…

Now there we have a challenge: Eco education, don’t just close the awareness curtain because it’s so much easier.


#16

Awesome day hike I did on Saturday was Kromrivier. You park just outside the Huguenot Tunnel and follow the route. Great places to stop and swim and when you get to the end there is nice cliff to climb using the chains before you get to a beautiful waterfall.
2 days later we stopped at same place and did the Elandsrivier trail which is also along a river stopping for swims. This trail is very quiet, we had no one else on it all day.
Both routes need a R60 permit.


#17

@Waya Unfortunately I am e) None of the above :slight_smile: . Although I have had my fair share of dealings with the department of environmental affairs, it was notably due to university projects. I think for environmental consultancy you have to either specialise in geography with a mayor in ecology or zoology/botany mayor. I cannot claim any of these disciplines, unfortunately, however I have a few very enthusiastic friends in the areas. The points I listed were the ones I would have considered as a manager of such a facility. I feel equally frustrated during periods of closure, but I think such frustration can be mitigated by informing the public of closures on the respective websites. I also think it helps if they show how they are making progress on rehabilitating trails or changing infrastructure. This gives hikers an idea of how things are progressing and shows them where they’re tax money is spent.

It also opens up the opportunity for sourcing volunteers/honorary park rangers that would speed up the process. In most cases you’ll find the hiking community to be ethically sound, but a few may litter/damage the trail. A more open policy on knowledge may remedy the frustration that some feel while providing them with a sense of purpose for helping in the endevour.

If you feel strongly regarding this, I would recommend volunteering as part of SANBI at a local botanical garden (you get to visit protected areas and ID red list plants) or become an honorary ranger (the program is relatively new but very rewarding). To influence policy is not impossible, its often just a matter of will.


#18

Again you got a good point! You should write an article about it for GO! magazine or Getaway, the latter needs some support to get back up on the level they once had and the new editor seems on the right track. But yeah educating the local hiking/climbing/nature loving population is in dire need. As for volunteering for SANBI… Thanks you, but… I’m custodian of almost 2000ha mountain wilderness and over 50km of hiking trails… that’s a plate full for another 20 years. Hence I do can relate to the pain and notions CN seems to experience first hand.

…an article?! :wink:


#19

PS> Grootvadersbosch has reopened its hiking trails.
The river and pools are clean, but sadly you will notice that the two fires that ravaged the area 3 years apart has left no flowering orchids along the streams (Dec.-Jan peak flowering time), little recovery in Proteacea species and a sizeable dent in some forested areas. It is still breathtaking though.
Kogelberg Nature reserve
The reserve is closed and a sizeable portion of the area has burned down including the area known for the endangered Nerenia and Memetes species. This includes the hikes between Harold porter botanical garden (also burnt) and the reserve. For drone footage of the area please see: https://web.facebook.com/groups/Kleinmond/permalink/2152761888077618/?_rdc=1&_rdr


#20

Thanks for the update @Gerda :+1: