Cape Trip days 6 and 7 – rest days

After the Hex Traverse, I took a long scenic drive through to Betty’s Bay. It rained for a lot of the drive – which is unusual in November.

I had been planning on climbing Hangklip in the morning, so seeing as I had arrived early, I decided to take a drive. After 5 continuous days of hiking, day 6 and 7 where designated rest days.

I started my Thursday with a visit to Stony Point – home to a large penguin colony. I had the place to myself, which is always nice when visiting animals. Wild animals tend to move away from crowds, but generally aren’t as worried about one person on their own.

The day before, I had driven past Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. I decided to visit it before heading out to Hangklip. By this point, I wasn’t even sure I would climb Hangklip. 5 days of difficult hiking is tough, and sometimes a rest day or two is a wise idea. Conversely – how often am I in this area.

Shortly after entering the gardens, I realised I had forgotten my water bottle in the car. I am generally not a huge fan of Botanical Gardens, so I didn’t think twice about it – I won’t be more than an hour anyway.

The river was the usual dark colour as a result of the fynbos – although it looked rather contaminated.

The Harold Porter Botanical Gardens are on the slopes of the Hottentots Holland Mountains. The setting is really beautiful.

I noticed a trail winding up the back of the park, and naturally was interested in what the view would be like from the top of it. So I started climbing. It kept going up, and so did I.

Eventually, above 300m in altitude (the car park is basically at sea level), the trail starts contouring towards a waterfall. The folds in the mountain are really cool!

I followed the trail till it hit a saddle. There was a peak to my right, which would be right next to the sea. The summit looked close, but I decided to go for it. I was a bit thirsty, due to the lack of a water bottle, so I drank from the river. By now, the mountain rooibos was starting to grow on me.

I was aware that heading up a peak I know nothing about, with clouds moving in, no GPS, a phone that was almost flat, no food, no water, no rain coat etc was very unwise – but the summit seemed so close. As the old rule goes – its always higher, further and harder than it looks!

As it turns out, I had left the trail just above 300m, and the summit was at 655m, so it took a long time to get up. I knew the view would be worth the effort. Knowing how much of a bad idea it was to get into this situation, I was drinking from every small stream I encountered, and paid very close attention to the landscape to ensure I could get back down to the trail if the mist rolled in.

The view from the summit was exceptional. It is less than 2km from the sea, with a very steep slope down into the sea.

As is common in the mountains, what I thought to be the summit no longer seemed to be the highest point when I reached it. A later inspection of the survey maps told me the first summit I stood on was the correct one, but to be sure, I walked along the top to the further summit as well.

It was an amazingly clear day, and the views were exceptional. I later discovered the peak is called “Elephant Rock Mountain”, and by my definition, it is a mountain.

The walk back to the car proved largely uneventful. I drank a lot more from the river on the way down, and was actually feeling fine when I got to my car. With my phone at 5%, I plugged in the power bank and went back into Betty’s Bay for some lunch. Thus concluding the story of the time I “accidentally” climbed a mountain!

I took the scenic road to my accommodation for the evening. While there are more famous roads in the Western Cape, the sea road between Hangklip and Cape Town has to be one of the best. Luckily there are picnic spots every 1km or so, and I had planned my route to be on the more scenic side of the road.

I will need to visit the Kogelberg Mountains on a subsequent trip – with a highest point above 1km in altitude, and immediately next to False Bay, the view should be extraordinary!

My accommodation for the night was on the slopes of Silvermine. It was great to be able to see Table Mountain.

After kind-of resting for the day, the plan was to return to an old favourite of mine – Cape Point. People talk about going up Table Mountain, or other attractions in the area, but Cape Point is such an amazing location – it is hard to beat on the Peninsula.

It always annoys me when I hear people describing it as the Southern Tip of Africa. Even Hangklip on the other side of False Bay is further south. It is also not the location where the Indian and Atlantic Oceans meet. The honour of both goes to Cape Agulhas – which is on my list for a future visit. The reserve is home to the south-western tip of Africa – a fairly arbitrary claim.

I decided to put my hand in the water at the south-western tip, but upon seeing the large population of insects, I thought that 5m from the edge was close enough.

I walked around the area a bit, watching the seals on the small rocky outcrop, as well as some ostriches that were at the car park. The lighting is wrong for this area in the morning, and soon I was driving to the Cape Point car park.

Being a beautiful clear day during free-week, one might have expected massive crowds. I guess it was a school/work day, but I was surprised to be one of very few people there.

I always check my car in case there is remote jamming, and a good thing I did – someone was remote jamming in the area. I manually locked my car before taking a very slow walk through all the view points.

I had the final lookout point to myself. I spent a good 30 minutes looking at the view before starting the walk back to my car.

As it turns out, SA built some pillboxes for a possible invasion by water during WW2. I guess the fear was a landing/attack at Simons Town, although I don’t know how necessary concrete fortifications that high up would be.

Before leaving, I drove to one of the many beaches in the reserve. The plan was to do the Thomas T Tucker Shipwreck Trail. I lost the path very early and ended up simply walking on the beach – which was likely better than the trail anyway!

The trail proved very easy, a high value-to-effort ratio. I walked back with my feet in the water for the return, although the water was a bit cold for that. About halfway back I decided to try and find the trail, and ended up on a tar road.

Leaving Cape Point, I took the west coast road, holding as close to the coastline as possible. This lead to the world famous Chapman’s Peak Drive, which is really spectacular.

I stopped in Hout Bay for some fish and chips – I think the fish had been alive shortly before the meal – before continuing around the back of Table Mountain, and hitting Clifton traffic at 4PM on a Friday. I think everyone in the area was on the beach, the roads were barely passable due to all the parked cars.

I stopped at the V&A Waterfront on the way through – not really my scene, but the McLaren and Austin Martin shop was interesting. They had a R15m McLaren Senna in for service at the time – not every day you see one of those!

My accommodation for the night proved to be in a dodgy area. I could see Table Mountain from outside my room, and the room was large and well fitted – but the complex itself didn’t feel great. The gate is controlled by the manager, and they will not give you a remote. I informed him that I would be leaving at 6AM the following morning, before heading out to Century City for some supper.

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