In the category hiking, one of my all time favourite’s in Cape Town: the Skeleton Gorge. Not for the faint hearted and not for the unfit. It’s a serious hike, a ravine on Table Mountain, that starts at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, all the way up (great views of False Bay, Constantia Valley and Hottentot Holland Mountains) to a path called the Smuts Track, that leads to Maclear’s Beacon (the highest point of the mountain). From there, one has to cross the entire summit plateau of Table Mountain, to the upper cable stadion. Where you can choose to walk down via Platteklip Gorge, or take the Cablecar down. The start of Skeleton is tough: through the forest, going up all the time, including a few ladders, stairs and steps. In the wet season (May – August) one can even walk in sort of waterfall (be careful: slippery!) It’s hard work and once you are up you will sweat like a horse. Which is great! It’s a perfect work out in nature. From up the gorge/ravine the path towards Maclear’s Beacon is medium-strength, I would say. Less hard work than the start, but it still is not exactly flat. Once up the highest point, you can go for a long, easy-medium walk towards the cable station of Table Mountain.
Look out for mountain fynbos (vegetation), interesting rock formation and birds. Views from up Table Mountain towards the bay, Robben Island, Devil’s Peak, Signal Hill, city of Cape Town and Lions Head are great.
Together with the Robberg Nature Reserve in Plettenberg, and hiking in the mountains around Bushman’s Kloof (Cederbergen), this ‘Skeleton Gorge’ on the slopes of Table Mountain is my favourite hikes in the Western Cape.
Skeleton Gorge is a 6,2 kilometre hike, starting from Kirstenbosch Gardens, all the way up to Maclear’s Beacon, via the plateau towards Table Mountain cable station. The increase in height is 930 metres. It’s not an easy walk but a real hike, and if you are a generally fit, you can do it. The first part is the worst, so after about 1-1,5 hours it gets easier. The total time of hiking Skeleton Gorge is somewhere between 3,5 – 5 hours, depending how fast and fit you are. 4 to 4,5 hours is moderate and very do-able I think, including a few stops. Always take water and food with you. Bring something warm for the shady parts (in the forest) or for sudden change in weather conditions (happens often on Table Mountain, it’s a micro-climate), but bring sun block and a hat, too, for hot weather. If you like to swim bring your cozzy, you can make a small de-tour to one of the water points/dam on the mountain. Wear good hiking boots or sports shoes. Be aware of snakes and baboons. We never saw snakes on the trail but it can happen. If it happens then; stay away from them and don’t approach. Stay calm. Baboons same advise. They look cute, but they are not. Never feed them. And last but not least: have fun, it’s gorgeous out there!
*Note: I have not been asked, paid or invited to write about Skeleton Gorge. It was my own idea. All image are mine.
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