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~ I dont blog about things to be liked. I blog about things that I like ~ ... so that one day, on my death bed, I will have said and done what I wanted to do, and die peacefully without regrets.
Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders & says..' Oh shit....She's awake'

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Muizenberg Cave, Tartarus Cave, Spes Bona Valley

(click on above image for enlarged version to appreciate it for what it has to offer!)

Hiking Trail: Muizenberg Cave, Tartarus Cave, Spes Bona Valley
Name of Reserve / Area: Table Mountain National Park, Silvermine (East)
Nearest Town: Muizenberg and Kalk Bay
Province: Western Cape
Country: South Africa

Best time to go: All year. Go early in summer. Good shade in Spes Bona Valley.

Fresh Water: Water is available, but quality uncertain, bring your own.

Difficulty: Easy but steep incline, no exposure to hights. Caves are tricky and narrow. Will work up a sweat.

Pets: Can take your small dog on a leash, but not advisable if you entering the caves.

How safe is it: It is not recommended that you go alone. Keep a mace spray on you for extra protection. Do not display your gadgets too publically.

Directions to get there: Once you in Muizenberg, drive towards 110 Boyes Drive and park your car. Make sure to respect the local driveways. (Boyes Drive runs above and parallel with the main beach road at the bottom of the mountain.) The hike starts by the Ou Kraal sign. Remember to bring along a decent torch and a candle for the caves.
Pics taken by: Alex Aitkenhead, Juanita Welgemoed, Iva Lopes de Sarria.

Hikers Ratings: Juanita - Loved this hike for everything it had to offer me. The awesome views of Muizenberg beach, the amazing discoveries of the caves and the highlight of the fairytale Spes Bona Valley. Cross over the seasonal stream and immediately turn right onto steep steps which will zig zag their way up and then along towards the direction of Muizenberg Beach. Once you reach a fork, keep left to continue going up into Bailey’s Kloof. The right option will however take you down towards Boyes drive again - which is where you dont want to go right now.
(click on above image for enlarged version)

There are many cross paths along this walk and its easy to get yourself confused. From this point, keep focussing to go upwards and towards the highest peak - St. James Peak. Your main landmark for now is to reach the first stone cut trig beacon about 20 min from this point - in the pic below.
Once you’ve reached the end of Bailey’s Kloof (pic above), you will come to another cross path.Dont turn left, (the more prominent/obvious path to take as seen in the pic below) keep going right, then soon thereafter, the path will fork again. This is where you go left and head up towards the peak (and not right to follow the path again alongside the mountain towards Muizenberg Beach) into Mimetes Valley.
Its very easy to get yourself lost and confused on this track, which added about 30 min to our hike. We made the mistake of going left at the first path, and took the long way. Either way, they both reach the Jeep Track. I would recommend that you continue to follow your nose in an upward direction towards St. James peak until you reach the Jeep Track and a landmark of a cut stone beacon.

(In the pic below:
The stone cut trig beacon which you need to look out for, is in the centre of the pic, 1 is the path you will be coming from, 2 is the path to go and explore Muizenberg Cave, and 3 is the route you will return to and follow towards Tartatus Cave. )
(click on above image for enlarged version)

At this point the Jeep Track is a clear triangle of roads leading to one another. Facing the beacon, with the highest peak (St. James Peak where Muizenberg Caves are - see the pic below) behind you, also indicates the direction of the path you should follow to view the Muizenberg Caves inside St. James Peak. A short walk up this Jeep Track, will lead you to a path on the right (pic above) taking you into the massive magnificent cave. You are able to explore the Muizenberg Cave up to 40m into the mountain. Make sure you have a torch and a candle to ensure a reserve in case of dropping or losing one whilst exploring this cave.Track back towards the stone cut beacon, where you came from. Now take the left of the 2 Jeep Tracks heading upwards.

Soon you will see a marker on your left (indicating the direction to the Amphitheatre), which is a sandy track towards Tartarus Cave.
This path has the most magnificent views. Be sure to keep looking back as you will notice (as in the pic below) a reverse view of the table top of Table Mountain – a view not seen too often at this angle.This sandy route will offer you various awesome rock formations for a pit stop of stunning views to take a break prior to your exploration of Tartarus Caves.The cave does not look like much from the outside, a mere 1.5m wide hole in the ground. We were very brave and entered the soon to discover abyss of darkness, narrow alleys and stunning discoveries. Being in a large group of 6 people and not enough light, we decided to turn around at about half of the way and headed back to the exit point.

Alex managed to capture these stunning shots inside the cave without a flash! ...its also not easy to hold the camera so still with such a slow shutter speed.
(click on above image for enlarged version)

So far, we felt like children discovering treasures never seen before – guided by our secret map (Mike Lundy’s Best Walks in the Cape Peninsula)!Once we exited the cave, we headed upwards for about 5 min walk towards Kalk Bay Mountain (beacon in pic below) and then down into Spes Bona Valley.At the top of Spes Bona Valley you will reach a cross road, this is where you turn left down into the valley.Another discovery of a boardwalk almost the entire way down through a dense yellowwood and milkwood forest brought yet again the child out in me.
(click on above image for enlarged version)

At the end of the boardwalk, you will again reach the Jeep track (which you crossed a few times before at other spots on the mountain), turn right onto the track. About 5 min walk turn left onto a narrow path heading you back towards the start of the Ou Kraal route. From here is a comfortable 30 min walk back to your car parked by 110 Boyes Drive alongside the mountain.


Iva said...

This is an awesome hike! Can't wait to do it again

Mr C said...

Haha, that sure was a great hike :) I want to go there again!

André said...


André said...

I did this hike on 3 March 2010 and was amazed by the caves.

I followed the route described and must say it very detailed and I did not once get lost.


Anonymous said...

Great blog! What is the duration of this hike, roughly?

Hello! I'm Juanita. said...

Thanks for the compliments :) This hike will take you about 6 hours, which includes spending around 30min in each of the 2 caves. its not a very long / far hike, but its so beautiful, its worth taking the time to enjoy the journey as much as the destination.

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