Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Table Mountain challenge

There is something for everyone immediately after Flotation ’11 on Friday November 18th. The JKTech are running one of their short courses on statistical methods at the conference hotel, and there is a student flotation research day at the University of Cape Town.

For those delegates wishing to get away from it all, Francois du Plessis, of Blue Cube Systems is organising a two-stage hike on Table Mountain, stage 1 being a gentle walk suitable for most people, and stage 2 for fit, regular hikers. The total distance will be 12km, with an elevation gain of 800m.

The group will depart from the Vineyard hotel at 07:00 and should be back by 17:00. The cost will be that of the taxi back to the hotel and a single cable way ticket of R92 for those on stage 2.

Contour path above Kirstenbosch
After a shuttle drive to Constantia Nek, the route starts with a 4km walk on the 310m altitude contour path to the top of Kirstenbosch National Botanic Gardens, founded in 1913. At this point the group will split in two. The first group (Stage 1) will take a relaxed stroll down the terraces of fynbos, proteas, cycads and rolling lawns into Kirstenbosch, where there is a restaurant, self-service area and tea-room as well as gift shops to enjoy. Taxis are available outside the Gardens.

Nursery Ravine
 Stage 2 will continue with some serious climbing up the eastern flank of the mountain (Nursery Ravine) to an altitude of more than 700m with scenic views of Newlands, False Bay and the Winelands mountains. Next they'll cross the lower back of Table Mountain towards Camps Bay, passing the Hely-Hutchinson and Woodheads drink-water reservoirs and the Waterworks museum (few people have ever seen these dams on top of the mountain.)

On top of the mountain
Kasteelspoort offers dramatic views down the western slope of the mountain towards Camps Bay. Turning north past Valley of the Red Gods, Isolation Valley and Echo Valley there is another dramatic view from the north rim towards the city, Table Bay and Robben Island. From there it is only a few hundred metres to the top of the cable station. Taxis are available after the short cable car ride down the mountain.

To join Stage 2 you will need to be fit enough to walk 12 km and climb 250 storeys! Those interested should contact Francois at


  1. A couple of people have asked if this is the classic Jan Smuts Track ascent of Table Mountain. Well, almost but not quite. Jan Smuts Track ascends via the tougher Skeleton Gorge, which runs close to Nursery Ravine. The former is steeper, and ladders are needed at various stages to assist the ascent.

    I have hiked Jan Smuts Track several times, the last time in November of last year, with Amanda, Jon, Kathryn and Dean Eastbury ( Although we are all strong hikers it was a gruelling 4 and a half hours from Constantia Nek to the upper cable-way. Stage 1 of Francois’ route is a gentle stroll, which I would recommend to anyone, as there are great views of False Bay, the Cape Flats and Newlands Forest. Stage 2 is definitely for serious hikers only, but you will be rewarded by one of the best walks that you have ever done, and a beer that never tasted better at the upper cable-way.

    You must take plenty of water with you, and some light water-proof gear, as the weather can be unpredictable on the mountain, as I discovered a few years ago while walking alone on a little known route (a totally stupid thing to do!!).
    Barry Wills, MEI, UK

  2. Hmmm. Dare I sign up? What a dilemma! As Barry mentioned in a previous blog, this is the toughest hike he has ever done and I completely agree, having said "never again" last November. If you can tough it out though, the views are magnificent and it's a wonderful sense of achievement. I couldn't walk for 2 days afterwards but that was just a minor side-effect! Dean Eastbury, Elsevier, Oxford.

  3. Go on Dean... I dare you! Remember how good the beer tasted!

    I'd join you, but it's my bad knee you know... ;-)


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