We had hardly used our riding gear since we had arrived at the surf house, so we thought that had to change. The best thing about Cape Town are the hikes. In less than 30 minutes one can be far from the bustling city, sweating it out under one of the most amazing cloudscapes and enjoying awesome views of the ocean. We went for two hikes, but the possibilities are endless, really. We started the first ascent in the stunning Hout Bay.
Hout Bay Harbor
The path was rocky and easy, a patchwork of all sort of fynbos (fine bush) populating the mountain. Fynbos are fine-leaved shrubs and plants that have taken root in the nutrient poor soils of the Cape, each plant having found a different specialized solution for adaptation to a harsh climate, swept by the wind and baked in the sun. Their delicate structure hides an incredible sturdiness. Fynbos accounts for almost 80% of the 8,500-plus plant species on the mountain slopes. This is world’s smallest floral kingdom, boasting the highest concentration of heathers. More plant species per square kilometer here that in the Amazon!
The path led to a fresh water source. We filled our bottles, then turned towards Chapman’s Peak. We felt like walking to the clouds, and up here we could still hear and smell the ocean, pounding restlessly the shore. The sounds reverberated up to the cliffs. Sounds of a dramatic fight to conquer new ground, to born new matter.
The shark fin shaped rock glistened in the afternoon haze. But the show was just beginning to unfold.
We were alone on the mountain. The knackered muscles were our only reminder that the whole experience had not been not an illusion. Our temporary vehicles of flesh and bones struggled to keep up with the flight of the spirit. We had dissolved, tired but aware, into the energy that flowed free. Pure happiness, maybe, but back in the city we returned to our barbaric habits. And shelved our recently acquired emotions in favor of a greasy plate of phad thai.
Of course we couldn’t leave Cape Town without hiking on Table Mountain. The distinctive flat-topped summit (highest point is 1,086m) lies in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest, but richest of the world’s six broad floral regions. The extraordinary silhouette of this most recognizable landmark has been luring us to go up every day from Table View.
We were 5. Dorothee is from Germany, and after recently getting her degree in hospitality management, she was managing the surf house for her compulsory graduation internship. After her stint in Cape Town she will be catering to your needs in Majorca starting next month. Guillaume is from France, and he was at the end of a 11 months round-the-world journey with his girlfriend. His passion: surf and kite surf, and he was on a mission to find new spots in remote places. Stephane, also French, had taken a week off to kite surf and SUP with Gui. As Gui has been traveling like us for a quite a long time, he was closer to our newly acquired views of the world, so we had become quite close at the surf house. Even if he knew when he would arrive home, and where home was. We didn’t. The whole gang was in good spirits, even if the hours were a bit off. We had started the ascent after 16.00, but we made it to the top in about 1 hour and a half.
The path was quite steep, but great fun, the only problem was that we were walking in full sun, sweating like hell and quickly exhausting our water reserves. Note to self – chatting while hiking up Table Mountain, not a good idea.
From up, the ocean appeared even more luring. If only the waters wouldn’t be so cold and ghastly! Cloudscapes dramatically enveloped the sheer cliffs. We enjoyed the free show for a while, then a helicopter hovered above our solitude, reminding of civilization. We were tourists, intruders in this mineral citadel, our spiritual moment only a brief illusion.
Up there the illusion was less inconspicuous: a way-too-fancy cafe on the top plateau, an establishment more appropriate to exist in an airport than in nature. I guess something must lure non-hikers up… We cynically recorded the paradox and did what we had to do: enjoy civilization. After some drinks – at airport bistro prices – we decided against cheating (taking the cable car down) and took the same route down.
Muscles shaking a bit, reconstituted fruit juices bubbling in our bellies. Our sprint ended where it had begun, only the parking dude had left, probably to roll yet another intense rifer. We had been also trippin’ but our drug had been fresh air and the abyss. Obviously the only way to celebrate this was with an excellent glass of South African red.