Table Mountain has such breathtaking scenery, and there is such a choice of many beautiful footpaths; but if you want to really capture the essence of Table Mountain, then doing the Hoerikwaggo Trail (or part there-of) will be a great idea for adventurous and energetic travellers.
Friday morning saw a break in the weather after 2 days of rain and chilly conditions; and I was fortunate enough to be part of an excited group of 12 hikers that met at the Silvermine Dam for the start of the 2 day Orange Kloof hike. We set off in high spirits with our guide Eric, and about 40 minutes into the hike you are met with your first spectacular panoramic view, this time of Hout Bay (Wood Bay translated into English) and the Sentinel that guards the harbour.
Sitting down for a quick snack and a drink to enjoy the view, you can hear the thunder of the waves at Dungeons situated under Sentinel peak. This is where the annual Red Bull Big Wave Africa competition takes place, and even from a distance of 4 odd kilometres away you can hear the thunder when the swell is big.
Some switchbacks drop you down onto a contour path and you skirt along the bottom of vertical cliffs with Constantiaberg above you on your right, reaching to 928m above sea level. And when you take into consideration that the ocean is on your left, you can imagine just how vertical those cliffs are.
We completed the 17.5km at about four in the afternoon when we reached the overnight huts, and what a pleasant surprise. The tented accommodation is located within the lush trees – the whole set up is invigorating. Constructed from alien vegetation, you realise just what a good job TMNP is doing. The Afromontane (African Mountain) forest and the scenery surrounding Orange Kloof compels you to relax and be at peace with yourself.
There are four, two-sleeper tents and one four-sleeper tent. Hikers must bring their own sleeping bags and pillows. Adjacent to the tents are showers with hot and cold water, and you have a spectacular view over the mountains in the setting sun.
The communal kitchen / eating area and braai (barbeque) pit was well laid out and a so nicely done. The hike is self-catered, so hikers can prepare their meals, or have a big braai as we did. The kitchen has a two-plate gas stove, and we were all very happy to even see a coffee plunger supplied.
View from shower
The biggest attraction for me is the chance to hike up Disa Gorge in Orange Kloof on the morning of day 2 (as this part of the trail is prohibited without proper permits, so hence it is not a part of Table Mountain that you generally see) and it did not disappoint at all.
After a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon, we set off at about 9:30 am and the first hour of this mornings hike was in theAfromontane forest. As you ascent and gain altitude it makes way for fynbos again until you finally round the corner, and you are greeted by Disa Gorge. As you walk on the right contour of the gorge you can hear the continuous rush of water as it runs in the gorge below you to the left, and there are some lush vegetation and big trees; mostly Rooiels (Butterspoon). Eventually you get to the top of the gorge, and the Woodhead dam wall; impressive for its stone work. We had lunch about 30 minutes later overlooking Woodhead Reservoir and Helly-Hutchinson Reservoir, and a hot cup of tea went down really well.
From here you make your way to the cable station where you have the option of going down Platteklip Gorge, India Venster or the cable car down to the bottom.
* Water – no less than 2litres per hiker
* Hiking boots/ shoes with thick socks to avoid blisters at the end of the hike
* Rain and warm gear for the many seasons in one day
* Day pack with essentials for each day
* Hat, sunscreen, binoculars, camera, torch etc.
* First Aid Kit
* Your overnight pack should have: Clothes, food for the duration of the hike, toiletries, sleeping bag, a pillow etc. – these can be transported to the overnight accommodation.