Photo of the week – November week #4: Hiking Table Mountain off-the-beaten track

Old built-up caves on Table Mountain

Old built-up caves on Table Mountain

Pristine nature is a major component of what makes Table Mountain hiking such a unique and memorable experience. Despite its proximity to a city and the (conspicuous) presence of a cableway to the summit, Table Mountain retains much wildness – a fact overlooked by most who set out to conquer the mountain on foot. More and more people take to hiking Table Mountain, but mostly along the main trails, leaving much of the mountain in the pristine state it was created.

Whether it’s on a walk through an exotic city or a drive through a backwater countryside or a hike into the mountains, hidden gems, unexpected charms and intriguing discoveries await those who venture off-the-beaten track, and hiking Table Mountain is no different. Many Table Mountain hikes leads through areas where few people ever set foot; where you get a true wilderness feel. Nothing was ever discovered without venturing off-the-beaten track. This was shown to be true the other week, when I retraced an old, forgotten Table Mountain hiking route, and came up a series of built-up caves with no signs of anyone having visited. I searched in vain for engravings on the surrounding rock to get a clue as to when, and by whom, they were built. My best guess is that they were built in the 1890s, when the Mountain Club of South Africa was founded and more people took to the mountain as a form of recreation. Their location high up the mountain suggests that the builders had access to the nearby summit plateau; and the only non-climbing route in the area dates back to the 1890s – a route that in subsequent years became a popular choice for ascending the mountain from that side.

Hike Table Mountain is the only guiding outfit that offers guided hikes up all the Table Mountain hiking and scrambling routes. This means that you have choice as well as the opportunity to explore and experience the wild side of Table Mountain. As Table Mountain guides, we have a passion for the mountain, for nature and for sharing the magic and essence of Table Mountain.

(c) www.hiketablemountain.co.za