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October 03, 2019

While the term ‘hidden gem’ tends to suggest a secret, inaccessible location, for me a hidden gem refers to a particularly special route that is not widely known.  Our Cape mountains belong to everyone, and it’s a matter of getting out there and discovering these 'hidden gems'! 

Tranquillity Cracks

Some of my favourite lesser known routes are on the Table Mountain range, many however are higher up than the better known routes and may entail a moderate climb to access them, but usually nothing too formidable.  Tranquillity Cracks is definitely in my top five along with Rendezvous Cave near Kasteelspoort.  

Image Source: https://tablemountainhikes.wordpress.com/2014/09/29/tranquilty-cracks/ 

Orangekloof

Orangekloof is by far and away my favourite and is the only exception to the ‘all access’ rule. For this area you will need a guide and a pre-booked permit to gain access to this very special place. Sanparks have retained the rule of requiring a permit in an effort to protect the pristine nature of this area, and if you should be so lucky to visit the area, you will understand why. It is an ecologically sensitive area that requires careful management. Staying overnight at the Overseers Cottage is another hidden gem and one that every Capetonian should have on their bucket list. I'm not going to even try explain what the view from the deck looks like of the city lights at night, words can never do it justice. 

Image Source: https://hikemehappy.com/2018/08/19/hells-gate-hike-orange-kloof/ 

Kalk Bay Caves 

Kalk Bay caves is another example of the incredible experiences the Cape mountains offer. One of the caves is accessed through a maze of tunnels which takes walkers through the mountains to the other side. 

Image Source: http://tablebayrovers.co.za/2016/05/kalk-bay-caves-day-hike-boomslang-oread-robin-hood/

Other hidden gems include multi-day hikes on routes that spread all the way across the Western Cape. I've just recently completed three epic trips to the West Coast National Park in the Postberg nature reserve, managed by SanParks, to see the magnificent blanket of flowers. And earlier this year I organised a weekend trip to the Cederberg, which took our group to the very popular (but limited permit) Wolfberg Cracks walk deep inside the spectacular Cederberg.

Each one of these walks I call my ‘wow’ walks because that’s all I hear people saying as we progress along the route. I encourage everyone to go beyond their usual routes and explore these hidden gems, there are so many and our time on this rock is limited!

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