Photo of the week – March week #2: Hiking Table Mountain via Oudekraal Ravine

View southwest across Oudekraal Ravine

View southwest across Oudekraal Ravine

Few trails lead up the southern half of the 12 Apostles, a chain of peaks extending behind the iconic tabletop summit of Table Mountain. These peaks – sixteen to nineteen in total, depending what you count as a peak – overlook the Atlantic Ocean and are considered part of Table Mountain, or the Table Mountain massif, a mountain mass comprising several peaks. Several Table Mountain hikes lead up the northern Apostles, overlooking the exclusive suburb of Camps Bay. Running along the base of these peaks and buttresses is an arterial trail known as the Pipe Track, which contours south as far as the middle Apostles: Slangolie Buttress and Corridor Buttress. Few hikers venture further south. At a point where the Pipe Track finally leads up to the summit, a vague trail branches off and skirts around the imposing base of Corridor Buttress. No you’re off the beaten track and surrounded by pristine nature and dramatic topography. The west-facing walls of Corridors Buttress towers overhead, while on your right the mountain falls away steeply to the azure Atlantic shimmering in the sun. Passing a rock shelter and emerging from a diminutive patch of low indigenous forest, you find yourself at the base of Oudekraal Ravine, a strip of slope hemmed in by sheer cliffs, offering a straightforward passage to the summit plateau of the 12 Apostles. But here you want to pause to soak up the restive atmosphere of the place. For many, Table Mountain hiking offers an opportunity to connect with nature. Tucked away in an unfrequented part of the mountain, Oudekraal Ravine comes with a lot of peace and quiet, solitude, grandeur and meditative space. In the shadow of Corridor Buttress’ stupendous southern walls, ringed with craggy cliffs, and with untouched mountain slope dropping away to the sea, it’s impossible not to contemplate the magic of nature and the lure of the mountains. Hiking Table Mountain can be a wild adventure that makes you feel like Indiana Jones on steroids, or it can have the calming and soothing effect of a thousand meditation sessions. If you manage to drag yourself from the beguiling confines of Oudekraal Ravine, you will emerge on the Grootkop Vlakte, a charming little plain, much of it a march in winter, at the base of Grootkop, one of the more prominent peaks of the 12 Apostles. Here you might choose to linger again, enjoying views eastward as much as the ambiance of the location. Soon you strike upon the main Apostle path that links up all the Apostles (not via their summits), where you can head left back to the northern Apostles – or right further down the southern Apostles and more seductive solitudes… (c) www.hiketablemountain.co.za