It all started during the 2016 Festive Season. We were visiting Eugene and Marlene and after a scrumptious meal and many glasses of wine the conversation inevitably turned to adventure and travel experiences. Then Marlene asked if we would like to hike the Fish River Canyon with them again during the 2017 season. And I said: “Why not do something different? How about the Naukluft Hiking Trail in Namibia?” And that was that; agreed.
The next morning brought sobriety and both Roger and I were wondering what we have let ourselves in for! We hiked the route 15 years ago and it was a challenge then; who knows how we will deal with it now!
In the past, whenever we had a big hiking event coming up, we always went to Cape Town for training up and down Table Mountain. We immediately planned our first trip after studying Roger’s schedule and found ourselves on a BA flight to Cape Town on the 24th February. We got there around mid-day and our first stop was at the Cape Quarter where our friend Matt manages the Drifters Outdoor Shop. Roger needed new boots and I needed a new day pack and a stick that would fit into check-in luggage.
We also decided that this trip would be our introduction to AirBnB accommodation, so after we spent a lot more money than we intended at Drifters we found a place to stay in Rondebosch. The plan was to hike up Platteklip Gorge the next day. I phoned my friend Henk to let him know we are in town and he decided to join us on the hike. He suggested starting at Constantia Nek, going up to the reservoirs, across to the cable station and coming down via the cable car after a cup of coffee. It sounded like a good plan.
We met for coffee and breakfast the next day and set out from Constantia Nek as planned. We hadn’t seen each other for ages and were chatting so much that we missed the path going up to the reservoir and soon found ourselves on a jeep track going to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. O well, we would then go up Nursery Ravine instead. The views were beautiful and the walk was pleasant but it was hot. We had started too late and the mid-day sun had no mercy. Once we entered the forest there was some relief, but nursery ravine is steep. Being unfit and this being the first hike in such a long time we all decided to turn around before we reached the top. My knees were very stiff coming down so I was very careful and made sure of every step. Can’t afford an injury now…
We were back at Henk’s house in Hout Bay in the early afternoon where we whiled away the time sipping cold white wine and chatting. By 5 o’clock we decided to go to La Parada for tapas. It was delicious and well worth a visit. Thanks Henk!
After parting ways with Henk we headed to Somerset West where we would spend the night with friends Debi and Jonathan. We were tired and slept well; so well that we did not get going very early the next day. After all, we were not planning to hike but rather recover from the previous day’s effort.
When we eventually left Somerset West we took a leisurely drive along the coast towards Betty’s Bay. En route we stopped at Kogel Bay for a lunch of packed snacks.
It was a stunning day and while we were sitting and just enjoying the view Roger noticed something in the breakers. It was an otter! We watched it come out onto the beach, then walk towards the vegetation and disappear into the undergrowth along a small stream. It was awesome!
When we got to Betty’s Bay in the late afternoon we paid a brief visit to the penguin colony at Stoney Point, previously the site of the Waaygat Whaling Station (1915). You can follow the link if the history interests you: https://marinewildlifemagazine.wordpress.com/2015/06/13/waaygat-whaling-station-at-stony-point/
Our AirBnB accommodation for the night was Stay with Friends, a very comfortable and well-run guest house indeed. On our way there we saw the sunset and remembered that it was the 26th, i.e. time for the much advertised partial eclipse of the sun.
After a good night’s sleep we were up and checked out by mid-morning. We had a very good coffee and breakfast at Jack’s in Betty’s Bay and then set out to hike in the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens.
We walked up the Leopard’s Kloof Trail to the Waterfall, then half-way back and along the contour path to the Disa Kloof Waterfall. From there back down to the restaurant for another coffee and cake. This time I had no issues with stiff knees and we both felt great after the walk.
Next stop was at my friend Rinette’s house in Stanford Bay. She has also recently converted her guest accommodation to AirBnB, called Whales, Waves and Walks, so we made use of that for this visit. We normally park in the driveway and sleep in Ufudu so this was a real treat!
After a pleasant evening of eating out and chatting we set out to do the Duiwelsgat Hiking Trail the next morning. However, one cannot hike on an empty stomach so first we went in search of breakfast! We were pleasantly surprised when we found a coffee shop called Hot Coffee in Gansbaai that served banting-friendly fare!
We started the trail at the parking area near the Gansbaai camping site in town where we left our car. Rinette collected us at Klipgat, the end of the trail, at an agreed time to take us back to our car again. The weather was wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed the walk.
A point of interest along the route was Duiwelsgat. It is a huge hole above the cliff, going all the way down to the sea. It was originally named Duiwegat because of the rock pigeons that built their nests in the hole. A wall was built around it to prevent cattle from falling in.
All too soon it was time to leave again and get back to Jo’burg. But we were feeling happy after all the time outdoors and knowing that the ‘training’ had begun…