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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.
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

India Venster via Platteklip Gorge

Hiking Trail: India Venster via Platteklip Gorge
Name of Reserve / Area: Table Mountain National Park
Nearest Town: Cape Town, Camps Bay, Hugovale, Seapoint
Province: Western Cape
Country: South Africa

Duration of hike: 3 hours 30 min at a fast pace (it took me 1hr 6 min up Platteklip and 2 hours down, which included rock scrambling and running) so this can take much longer.

Directions to get there: From Cape Town CBD, drive up Buitengracht Road towards the mountain. At the top turn left onto Tafelberg Road. Follow the scenic road for about 10km. You will pass the entrance to the Cable Way, and then your stop will be at a wooden hut on the right of the road.

Best time of year to go: on a clear day (make sure it is not windy or raining)

What costs did you incur to do this hike: nothing

How safe is it: very dangerous. Not a route for average strollers or walkers. Involves many very high rocks which you need to scramble down. Always be careful from a crime perspective and keep your mace spray at arms reach.

Fresh Water: make sure you have your own, but there are a few streams from May - Sept.

Difficulty: 4D. Hard walk up and down. The walk up is straight up - no flat sections, the walk down is straight down, and the flat sections are situated next to cliffs that drop more than 300 down.

Pets: This is not a walk and do not attempt to take your poor dog on this route. Mountain rescue have reported families trying to carry their dogs down the rock scrambling sections.

Platteklip Gorge is the gorge in the middle of Table Mountain and can not often be seen from the bottom when looking straight at the mountain. Sitting here on Devils Peak, its much easier to spot the gorge. This is the alternative route people walk up to the top of Table Mountain instead of taking the Cable Way.

Platteklip Gorge starts about 2 km past the Cable Way next to the small wooden Information Centre.

This is a straight walk up into the gorge with no mercy for the unfit.

Below you can view the top of Devils peak on the right.

Once you get to the top of Platteklip Gorge you will reach a cross road.
You will have a choice between going to Maclear's Beacon (the highest spot on Table Mountain), The Cable Way Station, India Venster, or straight back down the gorge again.

(click on images for a larger view)

After spending about 15 minutes refueling, we started heading down towards India Venster Route.

This is me and Caroline making our mark and enjoying the moment :)

The route hugs the Table Top all the way around untill almost right below the Cable Way. On this day it was slippery and extremely dangerous. Soon afterwards this was where we missed our down turn and continued along a very dangerous ledge. Luckily for us, we saw some hikers below, which led us to back track on our steps and route our way down a more safer path.

This picture was taken to show you the sheer drop down. I do not think this picture justifies the extreme danger, but it was nothing less that 300m straight way down.

The views of Campsbay and Lions head are spectacular and worth enjoying the moment of time standing still.

Due to the 5 fatalities on this route this year alone, Table Mountain National Park eventually decided to put some staples into the rocks in the more dangerous places.

I was still not comfortable with what they did, and think more can be done in relation to what the other much safer routes look like along the mountain.

Finally we reached the Cable Station below and took a taxi back to our car. We could have walked the Contour path back, but time was not on our side.

How will I rate this hike? I was on a high for about 3 days after wards. The adrenalin surely added to this, but 5 people have died on this route in the past 8 months - which is why I was so keen to investigate the real deal.

I can understand why this has happened, but Im still concerned by the attitude surrounding this dangerous route - especially from the side of the authorities.

The attitude that I do not agree with is the following:
This is a dangerous route
and people must read the signs.

I believe that is not good enough: I believe this route should be closed off for casual walkers and only members of the various mountain / hiking clubs should have 'permission' to walk this route.

By doing the above - casual walkers - especially the foreigners will find other alternative routes to enjoy a day in the mountain. This route is like a big fat advert right next to the most popular tourist attraction in South Africa, begging travelers with jet-lag to wander onto. It really is crazy that Table Mountain National Park have not taken this in a more serious light.

How many more people are going to die on this route? I got lost coming down. The part where I got lost was on top of an extremely slippery ledge that took me further and further into more danger. Thank God there were hikers walking below us, that showed me I was not on track. It really felt like they were sent to be there at exactly that moment to show me that Im going wrong. The route is very poorly marked too.

As a average 'hiker who might also like to do rock scrambling' this route is do-able. But for the other 99% of the casual day strollers out there, this route should be made for people with permits only.

How do you control this? You just cant. But this will make people think twice when they consider climbing India Venster Route - to rather take an alternative path - like the very scenic Contour Path instead.


Anonymous said...

While your concerns are admirable, this smacks of the "big brother is watching syndrome". Next thing Platteklip will be closed as well - I reckon more people have died there than on India Venster !

As long as the signs are clear, its up to the individual to decide if they want to take on the route or not. i rather suggest that the route be marked in some way so that people dont wanter off the route

Anonymous said...

The signs clearly state that this trail is dangerous and should only be attempted by experienced hikers and that the trail is difficult to navigate. The signs also state the Platteklip is the safer, recommended route.

People should take responsibility for their own well being. If you know that you are inexperienced, or that you and none of your fellow hikers know the way up, then do not blame the authorities for the risks that you take.

I do not belong to an official club but that should not exclude me from experiencing this awesome trail again.

Juanita said...

As the Editor of this blog and this article: do the 2 anon writers above then say that the signs are adequate? And for the fact that 6 people have died on this route in 2009 alone, you still strongly believe that the signs are adequate?

I think people who write 'anon' ARE people who belong to a hiking body of some sort. They ARE also old school hikers who dont want the path to be 'littered' as one person once said... with 'adequate' signs. "takes the fun out of the experience!" they said...

"Probably" more people have died on Platteklip is a probability probably related to falling over the edge whilst standing at the top, but I can assure you nobody has died on Platteklip due to getting lost and going the wrong way - as for most of the death cases on India Venster... and if they did, its because they went off the most obvious stone path on the mountain (Platteklip), and that is purely their own fault. One can not compare Platteklip to India Venster.

To the second ANON poster: Sadly you probably do represent a body and might drag them down with such a narrow-minded-selfish-old-school hiking mentality?

With your READ THE SIGNS attitude under the most popular spot Cape Town has to offer... a few more deaths will be ok for you then?

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