Escaping to the Cederberg: Wolfberg and Tafelberg

It has been years since I last walked in the Cederberg. At one time we were regular visitors, not only hiking and spending weekends in CapeNature’s Herberg cottages, but also participating in the Botanical Society’s annual cedar rehabilitation efforts in the Driehoek area. Wilderness called once again and so I used Peter’s (Gaucho Pedro) visit [...]

Victoria Peak in the snow

The best experiences are always born of spur-of-the-moment decisions. Kevin Koorzen and I were both suffering from cabin fever after weeks of winter had gripped the Cape spring but as the first sunny day revealed white peaks, we were “on”. An early setback was being told at the Jonkershoek gate that the road was closed [...]

Boesmanskloof: Hiking from Greyton to McGregor and back

There have been a few attempts over the last 150 or so years to build a road through Boesmanskloof between the towns of Greyton and McGregor (formerly Lady Grey). The road would link the Little Karoo with Cape Town via Robertson, McGregor, Houwhoek and Somerset West. All attempts either foundered because of lack of funds [...]

Somerset-Sneeukop – a birthday surprise

This hike will long be remembered for the sweet surprise of a birthday cake at 1105 m ASL. Yolanda and Kevin hatched the plot and Kevin carried it up in his already very full pack. He even played dumb when I happened to mention that it was my birthday as we took photos from the [...]

Arangieskop hike – take two

Arangieskop Hiking Trail is a very fine trail, well laid out by somebody who was determined to show the diversity of views and flora to be found on a single mountainside. Make sure that your knees are in good nick and that your pack is light, because the climb is unrelenting (8.34 km through 1313m) [...]

Harkerville Coastal Hiking Trail

Harkerville Coastal Hiking Trail is variously described as “more spectacular than the Otter Trail” and “the best two-day trail in the country”. I have always been somewhat sceptical about these claims, but I have to admit that after doing it, there is some substance to them. It is seriously spectacular – but also fairly difficult. [...]

Video: Botmaskop to Saaltjie hike

Kevin led an MCSA hike from Botmaskop along the watershed to Saaltjie, the north-eastern rim of the Jonkershoek valley. It was the reverse of a route previously hiked. A pleasant morning that left me with stiff flanks. It must be because of all the cycling …

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Boegoekloof Circuit Boland Trail

Some of the benefits of being a mountain club member are that you get to go to places that you would not normally be able to explore – and camp out there – and share the mountains with like-minded people who also know what they are doing in these lofty places. Although this hike uses [...]

Full moon at Dwarsberg

So there I was in bed, sleepily easing into a lazy Saturday morning with no particular plans or obligations when an SMS pinged in on my ‘phone: would I like to join the mountain club party that was heading up that morning to the Dwarsberg plateau to overnight under full moon? Somebody had withdrawn at [...]

Square Tower Peak: where nobody goes

Square Tower Peak has attained a degree of notoriety in the Stellenbosch Section of the Mountain Club. When a club trail leader from Cape Town called Stellenbosch’s Paul Verhoeven asking for directions down from the peak, the helpful reply went something like this: “What are you doing of up there? Nobody ever goes there!” Well [...]

Scrambling up the Cathedral

The tree where the leopards sharpen their claws

Katedraal is the Afrikaans name for the Second Ridge Peak, one of the thin, serrated ridges that line the eastern rim of the Jonkershoek valley south of the Pieke(Twin Peaks). The Mountain Club’s Stellenbosch section tackled it as yet another cold front made ready to pounce. [...]

Solitary walk on Stellenbosch Mountain

Henge with roof

When Paul bailed from our planned hike I was so desperate to get into the mountains again that I did something that is not recommended and is potentially stupid: I went hiking alone. It was the first hot day of spring, 34°C or so, and crystal clear. Cape Point was clearly [...]

A circuit of Paarl Mountain

There are many easy walking routes around the granite inselbergs of Paarl Mountain, most of them ideally suited to leisurely outings with a young family. Paul and I decided to get into the outdoors again for the first time after our return from trekking in Patagonia. It was one of those fine, sunny winter’s days [...]

Patagonian treks: Los Glaciares

The first of our treks in southern Patagonia during April was the classic circuit at the northern end of Parque Nacional Los Glaciares (Glacier National Park), in  Argentina’s Santa Cruz province. The 5-day circuit of 53.5 km takes one to the glaciers, lakes and forbidding mountains of the Andes, through southern beech forests, and to [...]

Leopard’s Gorge, Kogelberg

Here’s an easy yet spectacular walk for the family. The 7-and-a-bit km hike takes you through a 400 m rise and fall in  elevation, from the Palmiet River valley, through an old indigenous forest to glorious views above Betty’s Bay. Photos and a Google Earth track follow…

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On top of Slanghoek Pile

Water on rock

Slanghoek Pile – the name is evocative. Of what I am not quite sure (slanghoek is Dutch/Afrikaans and translates roughly to “snake corner”). An MCSA outing, the hike there and back is 16.4 km in length and climbs and descends 1272 m. The walk up comprised two sections: the first was long with a [...]

A Table Mountain circuit

Bakoven from Kasteelspoort

In all the years of walking on the mountain I have never climbed Platteklip Gorge. At Peter’s suggestion we parked at Kloof Nek and tackled the 15.4 km circuit up Platteklip, through the valleys of Isolation and the Red Gods, to the reservoirs and down Kasteelspoort, and back along the Pipe [...]

The Boland Hiking Trail

Aka The Return of Gaucho Pedro

This 3-day hike was like old times again – hiking with Peter Groves, my erstwhile hiking buddy who is out from the UK on holiday. Peter is also known as “Gaucho Pedro” after his escapades in Patagonia last year. The Hottentots Holland section of the Boland Trail is a [...]

Scherpenheuwel circuit, Franschhoek

The Mountain Club’s plan was to head up to Perdekop in the hope that, it being midwinter, there would be snow on the peak. Instead an unseasonal black south-easter raged, clouding in all the peaks around Franschhoek. So, plan B was activated. It amounted to a very pleasant 13.5km circuit of Scherpenheuwel, which [...]

La Motte to Franschhoek Pass traverse

In typical MCSA Stellenbosch style: a couple of koppies (little hills) on this uitstappie (outing). The numbers tell the story:

12.25 km maximum slope: 58.2% minimum elevation:  240 m; maximum elevation: 1405 m elevation gain: 1472 m; elevation loss: 1008 m moving average speed: 2.2 km/h (this number is a clue that it was pretty tough going). [...]