Photo of the week – January week #4: Oudekraal Ravine

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Tucked away on the unfrequented slopes of the southern Apostles lies Oudekraal Ravine, a gem of a route few people know about or bother with. The ravine itself is short and present little challenge, but it’s the approach and the setting that make the route worthwhile. To enjoy the route, you shouldn’t be in a rush to get to the top of the mountain, as the approach contours along the 12 Apostles for some distance, leaving city and civilization far behind, before you enter the ravine and upward progress commences. Hiking Table Mountain is about taking in the environment, not only about reaching the summit, so Oudekraal Ravine does a good job of showcasing the mountain before leading you to the summit for your sense of achievement. The approach follows the Pipe Track, a historic trail that leads along the foot of the northern Apostles, dipping through Woody and Slangolie Ravine before striking up Corridor Ravine to gain the Apostle plateau. To reach Oudekraal, however, you branch off from the Pipe Track before ascending Corridor Ravine and proceed along a faint trail, passing under the imposing frontal cliffs of Corridor Buttress before entering the secluded Oudekraal. The setting is most impressive: on one side, the towering south face of Corridor Buttress, on the other pristine mountain slope falling away to the sea. Table Mountain hikes in this sector of the mountain offer lots of solitude, nature and grandeur. If you’re a nature lover and not into thrills, then the route will delight.

Oudekraal Ravine tops out on an enchanting little plain (much of it a marsh in winter) at the foot of Grootkop, one of the 12 Apostles. Viewpoints abound – from Kleinkop, a mound on your right as you summit, and from Corridor Buttress’ summit. If you have the energy, hiking to the summit of Grootkop will reward you with stunning views in all directions. Or tackle the exhilarating Atlantic Traverse that leads along the west side of Grootkop, passing superb viewpoints, caves and pockets of indigenous forest. Chances are good that by the end of the day, you will not have encountered a single hiker. Part of the appeal of hiking Table Mountain.

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