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May 21, 2013

Two days hiking the Hoerikwaggo Trail

Our guide, Binny Ridgway, shows us our route

All images by Natalie Roos

On Sunday morning I awoke to the sounds of birds chirping and the smell of a wood fire being prepared outside my tent. It was still dark and my muscles were aching, but I was already looking forward to the day’s challenges that lay ahead. I had spent the night at the Orangekloof Tented Camp in the Constantia Nek Valley, after an 11km hike from Silvermine on Saturday. We had 14 more kilometres to climb on Sunday before we reached our final destination: the top of Table Mountain.

The full Hoerikwaggo Trail takes you from Table Mountain to Cape Point over a five-day hike. We were only hiking part of the trail, spanning 25km over two days. Our group was made up of first-timers as well as more experienced hikers but our guide, Binny Ridgway of Ridgway Ramblers, set a pace that was comfortable for everyone in our party. Binny has been a full-time walking leader in the Table Mountain and Cape Peninsula region for over six years and knows all the hidden gems, like the Waterworks Museum and the opening on the Woodhead Tunnel, which was built in 1891 to transport water from the mountain to the city.

The word "Hoerikwaggo" comes from the Khoisan word meaning "mountain in the sea", which is what we commonly refer to as Table Mountain. The Hoerikwaggo Trail starts off at Table Mountain, taking hikers to Maclear's Beacon (the highest point of Table Mountain) all the way down to Orange Kloof Forest, passing one of the dams along the way. From there onwards hikers head towards Silvermine, and enjoy the magnificent views of False Bay. The Hoerikwaggo Trail continues towards Kommetjie via Chapman’s Peak, along the magnificent beaches. Hikers then make their way towards Simon's Town and Cape Point, to explore the beauty of the Cape of Good Hope Nature Reserve.

After a long day, hikers arrive at one of the eco-friendly camps that were exclusively built for the Hoerikwaggo Trail. Each camp can accommodate 12 hikers, which also limits also the group size to 12 people. Hikers overnight in tented camps that blend into the surroundings and boast comfortable beds. Each lodge is equipped with fireplaces, braai facilities, and a big kitchen. The views from every lodge are beautiful.

On Sunday we hiked through thick indigenous forest and over rocky plains, stopping for lunch on a rock ledge overlooking the route we had experienced so far. We reached the top of Table Mountain at 3pm on Sunday with aching legs, feet and shoulders, but the sense of accomplishment and joy was worth all the effort. The view from the top of Table Mountain is always spectacular, but never more so than when you’ve climbed up on your own two legs. The experience was definitely one to remember.

Trees along the Hoerikwaggo trail

Views over the Southern Suburbs

Hikers enjoying the outdoors

Orangekloof Tented Camp

The fire pit at Orangekloof

The tented camp at Orangekloof

There are many different trails in the Table Mountain region for every level of hiking experience. Have a look at our list of the best hiking routes in Cape Town, or contact Binny to find out more about her guided walks and experience the magic of the mountain for yourself.

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