The best way to experience the Cape’s unique flora is first-hand with a guided hike. Table Mountain Treks and Tours offer tailored trails that will safely take you where you want to go and show you some of the exquisite biodiversity of the Table Mountain region.
At first glance, the Silvermine section of the Table Mountain National Park’s landscape looks mostly grey and green, but once you take a closer look, you spot delicate flowers blooming in reds, purples and blues. King Proteas hide in plain sight, but Justin and his dad Mark Hawthorne are excellent at pointing out notable plants and flowers. They know their stories, history and Latin names and their enthusiasm for nature, hiking and conservation is seriously contagious.
We joined them for a casual four to five-hour hike in the Silvermine section of the Table Mountain National Park, an area they say should definitely be on your must-hike list if you’ve done Table Mountain and Lion’s Head.
We started our circular hike at the Silvermine dam, which is so pretty you could easily spend the whole day there. It’s 7am and a man in a wetsuit is gearing up to take the plunge (one of the few dams in the park where swimming is allowed).
The first bit is an easy walk up and the breaks to admire the Blue Disas (in season from January to March) and views offer a chance to catch your breath as you ascend. Once a bit higher you have an amazing view of Muizenberg and the ocean. When you reach Noordhoek peak you have a 360 degree view that will take your breath away. You can see all the way from Table Mountain to Kommetjie’s Slangkop Lighthouse, including Chapman’s Peak, Hout Bay, Noordhoek Beach and False Bay coastline. We’d argue it’s one of the best spots in the world for a morning coffee and croissant.
From there we walked along the skyline path to the spot where you can view the elusive Black (or Verreaux) Eagle’s nest at the top of Blackburn Ravine. We took an easy walk back and ended up approaching the dam from the opposite side to where we started.
The perfect ending to this hike is a swim in the dam and possibly a braai and picnic at the Silvermine’s facilities.
Justin and Mark are knowledgeable, helpful and friendly and with their years of experience, they seem like they could guide you up Kilimanjaro if you wanted them to.
Entry to the park is R50 for adults and R25 for kids under 12 and you can get a great deal if you get a Green Card with Sanparks (www.sanparks.org)
For more info visit: www.tablemountaintrekstours.com