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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'

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Hiking Constantia Neck Table Mountain

Hiking Trail: Eagles Nest, Constantia Neck
Name of Reserve / Area: Table Mountain National Park, Constantia Corner
Nearest Town: Constantia Neck
Province: Western Cape
Country: South Africa

Duration of hike: 4 hours

Directions to get there: From Cape Town CBD, drive south down the M3. Turn right into Rhodes Drive. Pass Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens on your right. At the T turn right and follow the road until you get to a large traffic circle. Left will take you to Groot Constantia Wine farm, right will take you down the hill into Houtbay. You dont want to go either way, you want to park your car on the right in the car park before you cross into the traffic circle.

Best time of year to go: Any time is good. Winter will have more water in the dams at the top.

What costs did you incur to do this hike: Free.

How safe is it: Table Mountain is open for any one to explore. Make sure you have mace and or a shocker on you at all times - you never know who might be on the prowl on any day. There were many people on this route, especially on the cement road going up to the reservoirs and the route is very popular.

Fresh Water: There is a tap located at the overnight hut at the top and there is water in the reservoirs. I do however always recommend that you always take water with you wherever you go

Difficulty: Mike Lundy 3C. There is little shade available during the hike, the inclines are steep with much rock scrambling going up most of the way.

Pets: We took the Dobermans with last week, but they unfortunately froze at one point, so we had to turn back for their safety. Unbeknown to us, we were about 10m from the last of the rock scrambling. This week I took my small wire fox terrier with, and he was fine and easy to manage up the steep cliff faces. Not recommended for any large dog or your fat lazy dog.

We started to ascend around 8am. Unfortunately neither of us took any pictures with much regret the entire way.

As you leave the car park, follow the jeep track for about 10m, and you will see the steps going up on the left. At the top of the steps you will reach the jeep track, which now becomes a cement road.

Turn left and follow the gravel road to its end. Here you will find a path going up to the right of the mountain. Continue to follow the path, as soon as you reach the top of this hill, do not go over it towards Houtbay, but turn right again and continue to follow the path up the mountain. This route becomes very steep, but the rock faces are fairly easy to scramble.

About an hour from the car park you will reach the top.

Follow the path until you walk through a passage in the rocks. This will bring you to another valley and soon you will see the famous Camel Rock. It looks like a camel without a hump. The path takes you right pass the Camel rock. Spend some time inside the body of the camel and feel the child come out you again. You will also appreciate the size of this rock more once you are standing right next to it, as it looks much smaller from a distance than it really is.

The path will take you to first Reservoir called De Villiers Reservoir. This is the 5th of the 5 Reservoirs on top of Table mountain. I say this because it looks like each reservoir seems to run into the next in terms of its direction of the flow of the water. Passing the reservoir on its right, will take you to the cement road and the overnight hut. You will be able to drink some water at the tap next to the overnight hut. We decided to extend our trip and turn left onto the cement road to view all the reservoirs along its path. Soon we passed Alexandria Reservoir and Victoria Reservoir on our right. About 1km further, we eventually reached the magnificent Woodhead Reservoir and the now empty Hely-Hutchinson Reservoirs. Make sure you do walk over the Woodhead Reservoir wall to appreciate its magnitude and the stunning forest below its path... A route Im planning on exploring in the future for sure.

This is where we turned back in our tracks and headed back to where we originally came from. This time we followed the cement path all the way down the hill until we reached its first hairpin bend to the left. Here we turned left, but about 100 m down to the right there are wooden steps going down. Follow these steps until you cross the cement road again. This will be the point where you started from and you retrace your steps again down another set of wooden steps until you reach the car park below.

How will I rate this hike?
Highly recommended. The route up was very steep. (Im not sure if it felt much steeper than it really is, because of my exhaustion from carrying my mountain bike up the contour path in Kirstenbosch yesterday! - dont ask any Q either ...but my body surely felt it today) It went from clear skies to complete mist and cloud cover in no more than 15 minutes. The visibility was about 50m, but once we climbed above the mist, it looked like heaven! We stopped at the first reservoir and enjoyed a picnic. My dog (Norman) was so hot - he broke the rules and had a little swim all on his own in the lake. That was very cute. I also gave him some fudge and leftover pizza crusts to help his energy levels. The lakes were absolutely stunning, and one has to explore the dam walls close up to really appreciate their magnitude and beauty. Both Alex and I were very tired once we got back down to the car. I noticed a blister on Normans little foot and today was not that hot either. But one must never forget that your dog also needs energy and water like we do when we go on these hikes. Im annoyed that we did not take any pictures, so I will have to do this hike again to document this route with pictures like I am used to doing for this blog.

What did I see that I want to share with other hikers?
We saw an entire family going up this mountain without any water or extra protection from the elements. The father was holding an apple in his hand. This mountain can have 4 seasons in one day, people find this hard to understand. So far, every single time I have been up this mountain, I have had the need to put my sweater on at least once for a short while during every hike.

An amazing story:
Last week after returning down the mountain, disappointed that we could not complete the route, I dropped my sweater by accident on the way down.
This week (1 week later - to complete our mission), on our way down, Alex saw my sweater neatly placed over a rock. What are the chances of finding your sweater again ever? Thanks to the person who found it and placed it on the rock and thanks to every person who was kind enough to also pass it lying on the rock and leave it there for its rightful owner to claim it.

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