World Environment Day, celebrated globally on 5 June, is a day to connect ourselves to nature, to be (extra) mindful of our impact on the environment and make sure we take care of it. Since 5 June happens to be a Monday (ew), a day I knew I wouldn’t be able to escape the “office” (as an au pair – when I’m not hanging out at SANCCOB – my office is mostly my car) for long enough to hit the hiking trails, I decided to plan an adventurous weekend jam-packed with hikes (my best kind of weekend, in case you hadn’t noticed yet).
The plan was to tackle some of Cape Town’s perhaps lesser known (but still some of my favourite) trails – the Pipe Track and the Silvermine Dam to Elephant’s Eye route. Both are gentle (ish) hikes, making them the perfect choice for a weekend worth of relaxed hiking and a fix of nature-therapy.
Maybe the Pipe Track isn’t lesser known, but as it wraps around the base of Table Mountain in the direction of Chapman’s Peak, it’s likely underrated compared to Table Mountain’s other, more intense routes like India Venster and Platteklip Gorge (which I tackled earlier this year – read all about it here).
“Is it hard? Will I die?” I had such a chuckle at my friend Bee’s initial response to my hiking invite. As the Pipe Track is mostly flat, it’s fairly easy and far less of a fitness commitment than climbing Lion’s Head. This also means you can admire the views without having to worry about taking a tumble down the mountain side (which would not be good and is also a very real worry for an “Accident waiting to happen on 2 legs” like me). After a full morning of laughs, greeting all the doggos that were following their humans on the track and watching the weather change as the predicted rainstorm started to roll in from the ocean, we stopped off at Solo for a well-deserved brunch. It forms part of 99 on Loop, an art gallery on Loop Street in Cape Town’s CBD. It’s a cosy spot with a light-filled court yard covered by a glass roof, and the interior features face-bricked walls lined with local art pieces. We sat by the open window, recounting our morning and sipping on warm drinks (because coffee is life), and waiting for the rain to begin.
Unfortunately, the weekend’s Elephant’s Eye plans were thwarted by some unpredictable weather (although, it’s not that unfortunate, since Cape Town is facing the worst drought in over a century), but I did do it a few weeks ago and decided to still share some snaps for World Environment Day. A photographic rain dance, if you will.
Elephants eye is a cave which forms the focal point of a range of mountains shaped like an elephant. You could begin in Tokai forrest, but I prefer to take the shorter route from Silvermine Dam, which is just at the top of Ou Kaapse Weg and is a 20-minute drive out of the city centre. It’s about a 2.5 hour hike to the cave and back (depending on how long you spend hanging out in the cave, and taking photos) and because it’s located out of the city, it’s not as over-crowded as other hikes on the weekend. This route does have some inclines, especially the last stretch towards the cave, but it’s very doable. I like to stop along the way and admire the dense, sprawling forest below, which is criss-crossed by mountain biking trails, and to catch a glimpse of False Bay towards the South.
One of the most critical rules of hiking (others include not leaving anything behind besides your footprints and being nice to others on the tracks and especially the doggos), is that Though Shalt Have Post-Hike Brunch. I love to take a drive down Ou Kaapse Weg and into Noordhoek and pull in to the Noordhoek Farm Village. Here, I can sip on a cappuccino made by my favourite coffee guy, Guy, who runs the Village Roast and is just the MOST loveliest person ever. The Foodbarn Deli & Tapas is the perfect spot for some eggs Ben, a fresh flaky croissant or a colourful bowl of yoghurt, nutty granola and seasonal fruit.
If you couldn’t get outside today in celebration of World Environment Day, I hope these photos took you on a virtual hike through some of Cape Town’s diverse natural wonders, and that you’re feeling inspired to venture out on these hikes.
Until next time. xx