Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cape Town - Day two - Table Mountain

(View of Table mountain from our Air bnb.)

On our second day in Cape Town we had again too many things planned.  
First hiking Table Mountain and then a visit to the Ostrich Farm, unfortunately we had to cancel the Ostrich Farm visit as our table mountain adventure took up much more time than initially thought. So we adjusted our plans and took as much time as we needed to complete the hike. Scott's parents Brett and Deb drove with us to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens from where we began our adventure up Skeleton Gorge, while Deb and Brett enjoyed the Botanical Gardens before heading straight to the cable car to meet us at the top.

 Our route to the top lead us through the famous Skeleton Gorge, which is a densely wooded ravine, where in parts we climbed up steps and roots and in other areas it gets so steep that we made our way up wooden ladders and then finish up by climbing up a ravine/waterfall. Skeleton Gorge brought us up significant altitude in a fairly short period of time. But you rarely realize just how steep it actually is on this varied and shady trek, so no problem for people who are afraid of heights... like me. It's relentlessly uphill but all in the shade. Think... extreme stairmaster but way more interesting.. then from there to the highest point, Maclear's Beacon. 

Still all smiles and not sweaty yet. 

15 minutes later... all sweaty already.


Climbing up a Ravine, wet stones and mini waterfalls everywhere.

Well deserved break at the top of the Ravine with Biltong (South African Jerkey) and water.

Way down below there.. where the tiny houses are ... that's where we came from... wowza.

Cool trail map

For some reason we expected Skelton Gorge to be the most difficult part and the couple of kilometers to Maclear's Beacon to be easy. It was not. Once you get to the top there is close to no shade, and after the humid forest we had plowed through more than half of our water bottles. Smuts Track leads you further up the mountain with breathtaking views, in part you climb up the side of boulders and rocky natural stone steps, other sections are a sandy trek with steps secured along the way. It's beautiful but definitely a demanding hike as well. Not knowing what to expect from McLear's Beacon we thought we were coming close to it a few times just to get to the top and seeing another higher point ahead of us. 

The flora on Table Mountain blew me away. So many different plants and flowers I have never seen before. So many different textures interwoven in the landscape. 

Dried Protea blossoms.

That is Cape Point back there... where the Indian Ocean (on the left) and the Atlantic Ocean (on the right) meet. The southern most tip of South Africa.

Stone steps... so many of them. 

This is the path... 

The views at every point on this part of the route were really just phenomenal.

Smuts Track...

Still going the right way... Smart way of doing signage. 
Don't have to worry about the sun bleaching the ink or paint.

We were convinced this was Mclear's beacon (from below)... it was not... 

Scott had a tough time with this part of the hike.

We are getting close now!!

Finally we did make it to the top and it felt amazing! It is so flat up there you can see the cable car station far in the distance, and the walk from Mclear's beacon to the cable car station was an easy pleasure with excellent views. Some visitors take the cable car up and do the hike from there to the beacon. We met more and more tourists without proper hiking gear on this path and we knew we were close now when we came across families with small children. 

That little square in the distance there is the cable car station... It this point we were so energized what should have taken us 45 minutes only took us about half an hour to get there.

Deb and Brett met us at the restaurant (thank goodness for the restaurant!). We definitely did not have enough water with us. So by the time we reached the restaurant we were dehydrated and dizzy.
After a well deserved rest at the restaurant, a hearty late lunch and two 1L water bottles each we got into the Cable Car and made our way back down the mountain. From there Deb and Brett did a city tour and we headed back to the Airbnb for a well deserved shower. 

This guy is really happy about his 4.5h hike now that he survived it.

Things we learned during this adventure: 
* Pack twice as much water as you think you will need 
(we could have easily needed 2L per person, maybe 3L for Scott)
*Temperatures vary at different parts of the hike, dress in layers that are easily taken off and put back on.
*Table mountain is amazing
*The hikes are well worth the effort! 

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