My latest hike took me to a particular area of the Table Mountain National Park. Orange Kloof is a restricted area that can only be visited with a guide and the maximum number of persons allowed in this area in a day is 12 (and that includes the guide as well)!
So along with 10 friends we started off from the Constantia Nek parking lot. Our guide, Mark, was an extremely energetic middle-aged gentleman who hiked at a speed which we all considered more like an easy jog and while we huffed and puffed, Mark managed to talk effortlessly even when ‘jogging’ uphill. We were behind him sweating and scant of breath, bewildered not only by his fitness level, his knowledge of the local flora and his enthusiasm to share that knowledge but of course by the beauty of our surroundings: indigenous forests, spectacular mountain views, and rare-to-spot orchids.
This area above Hout Bay is actually not that far from the city but not having seen any other hikers made it seem like we were way out in the wilderness. No noise at all from civilization (well, except our panting) during our 5-hour hike!
Instead of heading directly towards Hell’s Gate, our guide proposed we hike towards a sheltered ‘kloof’ – or glen – where we might find flowering Red Disas. This very famous red orchid – that is also the emblem of Western Cape and its sports clubs – is an endangered and protected flower. A rare find for hikers in the early months of the year, the long uphill walk was definitely worth the sweat. The Red Disa, also called Pride of Table Mountain (Disa Uniflora) is a magnificent red flower that is pollinated by the yellow mountain pride butterflies.
Besides the precious Red Disa, we spotted many other flowering plants,
among them the budding King Protea.
We also spotted this little spider called the ‘crab spider’ sunbathing on a flower
We continued the hike to Hell’s Gate and finally found a little protection from the sun in the forest area.
To reach the rock wall of Hell’s Gate required a slightly more advanced level of hiking. As our guide explained, this area is to be visited in summer time as in rainy periods the rocks are slippery and dangerous.
Hell’s Gate – what a spectacular view!
So plan ahead and book the guide to not miss out on another beautiful spot Cape Town has to offer!