Constantia Nek Hike – Cape Town Hiking Trails

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Constantia Nek Hike – Cape Town Hiking Trails

Constantia Nek hike starting at the car park on the Hout Bay road. Cape Town hiking trails.

Constantia Nek hike starting at the car park on the Hout Bay road. Cape Town hiking trails.

by Sharon Henry

The Constantia Nek hike to Camel Rock, one of many Cape Town hiking trails in the Table Mountain National Park is going to require some puff – it has an elevation gain of 530m. We’ll be breaking in new Salomon hiking shoes as we join a Cape Town hiking club after spending five languid days at sea, I don’t know how we’ll fare.

We loving our Cape Town adventures so far and today’s excursion has been arranged by friend, Billy Leisegang to join the Mountain Meanderers, a hiking club of retirees refusing to succumb to the ‘old age’ stereotype. Preferring instead to maintain their fitness with weekly jaunts on these types of Table Mountain hiking trails. Let’s hope we can keep up!

Constantia Nek, on the south east side of the Table Mountain range, is being assaulted today by a group of nine, plus Darrin and I. The starting point is from the Constantia Nek circle car park on Hout Bay road.  We take off at moderate pace, following a neatly cut path that is soon heading quite steeply upward. It’s a beautiful day and getting acquainted with everyone as we walk helps the climb.

On the ascent at Constantia Cape Town as it begins to get steeper, here we're still at the bottom.

On the ascent at Constantia Cape Town as it begins to get steeper, here we’re still at the bottom.

Table Mountain wildlife showing off beside the pathway.

Table Mountain wildlife showing off beside the pathway.

This is Ian, hiking Cape Town Table Mountain National Park.

This is Ian, hiking Cape Town Table Mountain National Park.

Table Mountain Hiking Trails

From the get-go the group proves that 60 and 70 is obviously the new 40. Ian, a quiet 77 year old, tells me he runs ultra marathons; races that go beyond the traditional 42k. He is also an active member of a Tuesday walking group, so he does some of the best hikes in Cape Town twice a week.

The African sun is a bearable 23C today with no wind, in complete contrast to the sizzling 42C temperatures a few days ago, the hottest day on record in almost a century.

After about 30 minutes we take a breather overlooking the thriving Constantia vineyards. Sadly, a feature across the distant landscape is the smoke from wildfires which have been plaguing the Cape Peninsula for a few weeks, closing many walks in Cape Town as a consequence.

Taking a water break hiking The Cape Town Mountain National Park.

Taking a water break hiking The Cape Town Mountain National Park.

Rest stop one at Constantia South Africa.

Rest stop one at Constantia South Africa.

Constantia Nek Hike To Eagles Nest

Having only recently hiked Constantia Nek, the group decides to split: the main group will continue on the scenic route to the Cape Town dams on Table Mountain via a concrete jeep track. Darrin and I are to go with Billy on an adventurous trek via Eagles Nest Constantia and Camel Rock. We agree to meet at the summit in two hours.

Our new route is a much more vertical climb up large boulders and through brush. I hardly have time to take photographs; both hands are required for grip. Our new Salomon walking shoes are getting well and truly tested.

What A View

Somehow after each section we climb, there seems to be another above us, each offering magnificent bird’s eye views. We can see False Bay in the distance, Constantia valley, the tip of Hout Bay in the opposite direction and ‘table cloth’ cloud formations clinging to the mountains. Although the route is more of a vertical climb than we’re used to, the terrain is firm so it doesn’t feel as perilous as some of the Post Box walks on St Helena.

Vegetation up here in the Eagle’s Nest area is similar to St Helena; geraniums, reedy grasses and a cabbage-like tree. A variety of Cape Town’s tropical and exotic protea flowers are growing along the pathway, colours ranging from dusty pink to bright fuchsia. (No, we didn’t see any eagles).

Climbing the trail up from Eagle's Nest on the Constantia Nek hike.

Climbing the trail up from Eagle’s Nest on the Constantia Nek hike.

The view toward Hout Bay from Constantia Nek, hiking trails Cape Town.

The view toward Hout Bay from Constantia Nek, hiking trails Cape Town.

Cape Town Hiking Safety Tips

Billy tells us there’s a threat of muggings and other crime whilst hiking on the mountains. He carries mace or pepper spray as a precaution. Park rangers routinely patrol the area.

Encounters with baboons are also possible and we’re advised that if they show interest in backpacks, it’s best to hand them over. They’ll rummage through for food and move on. Yikes! Other hazards on the mountain are snakes; cobras and adders. Hopefully these critters will keep well away from us.

Here is a useful safety guide for keeping safe while hiking in Cape Town.

Could never tire of the view. Hiking The Table Mountain National Park.

Could never tire of the view. Hiking The Table Mountain National Park.

Darrin and Billy climbing up through the rocks. Hiking The Table Mountain National Park.

Darrin and Billy climbing up through the rocks. Hiking The Table Mountain National Park.

Camel Rock Under Two Hours

Exertion from the steep climb is taking its toll and I’m starting to flag. Desperate for a sugar fix we stop in a shady area where I devour an energy-boosting Snickers bar. Feeling like Popeye once he’s swallowed spinach I practically sprint up the last giant boulders to reach the summit.

We’ve climbed approximately 560m in an hour and 45 minutes. The views from the top, approximately 730m above sea level, are spectacular as we take one last look back in the Hout Bay direction before heading off across the green plateau that is strewn with large rocks of all shapes and sizes.

It looks like we’ve stepped into a stony Jurassic Park. The rock formations resemble weird sculptures that could resemble exotic creatures –with the use of a little imagination.

Camel Rock is appropriately named and the light is superb for photos.

Trail leader, Billy, hiking the Table Mountain National Park.

Trail leader, Billy, hiking the Table Mountain National Park.

The top of the walk was grass and rocks. Hiking The Table Mountain National Park.

The top of the walk was grass and rocks. Hiking The Table Mountain National Park.

The large rock formations were great to look at, like something out of Jurassic Park.

The large rock formations were great to look at, like something out of Jurassic Park.

Camel Rock on the Constantia Nek hike trail.

Camel Rock on the Constantia Nek hike trail.

me posing on the other side of Camel Rock. Hiking The Table Mountain National Park.

me posing on the other side of Camel Rock. Hiking The Table Mountain National Park.

De Villiers and Alexandra Dams

Soldiering on we finally rejoin the main group who are having lunch at De Villiers dam. It’s taken 10 minutes short of two hours since we split up. My shoes performed brilliantly and legs are still working.

There are five reservoirs on top of Table Mountain, constructed between 1896 and 1907 to supply Cape Town with fresh water. De Villiers dam is the smallest; we also walk to Alexandra Dam.  An added bonus of this Constantia Nek hike.

Exploring the Table Mountain dams.

Exploring the Table Mountain dams.

Protea flowers are everywhere. These are the national flower of South Africa.

Protea flowers are everywhere. This is the national flower of South Africa.

Walking the Jeep track between the reservoirs. Hiking The Table Mountain National Park.

Walking the Jeep track between the reservoirs. Hiking The Table Mountain National Park.

Age Is Just A Number

Having taken the ‘easy’ route up, the group decides to take the ‘not so easy’ route back down. With magnificent views of Constantia below, we make our descent toward the Cecilia Forest waterfall. Full concentration is required as we delicately pick our way down over smooth boulders. I often find walking downhill worse than going up; it’s a strain on joints and increases the chances of slipping.

Totally unfazed is 76 year old Delene Stamper, who only four years ago underwent a knee replacement operation yet continues to hike. Even arthritis now can’t keep Delene away from the mountains. Only with some prompting does she tell us she’s crossed a glacier in Pakistan, scaled Mount Kilimanjaro and hiked K2’s base camp in years gone by. Today she’s in a hurry to get home to bake a birthday cake for her god child’s daughter.

Darrin and Delene Stamper under the shade of the Cecilia Forest.

Darrin and Delene Stamper under the shade of the Cecilia Forest.

The descent of the Constantia Nek hike trail.

The descent of the Constantia Nek hike trail.

Waterfalls In Cape Town

We stop periodically, captivated by the drama of helicopters and crop dusting planes tirelessly fighting a smouldering wildfire on a neighbouring hill. Grey smoke lingers as the aircraft dump water or some other fire suppressant over the affected area.

Eventually the path trails out and we enter the cool shade of Cecilia Forest with its trickling waterfall bringing a welcomed relief.  There are a few other hikes in Cape Town with waterfalls which makes visiting this city such a wonderful experience.

We trek the last hour quite comfortably back to the car park and finish off at the pub across the road.

We’ve just completed a mountain hike of six hours, including breaks and photo calls. It’s been the most wonderful day out in Cape Town. The Mountain Meanderers have taught me age really is just a number and doesn’t always have to dictate our lifestyle choices. What an inspirational bunch of people.

Hiking Groups Cape Town

There’s safety in numbers when you walk in a group plus it’s fun and a great way to meet new people.  Cape Town has a number of hiking groups for all types of walkers, check this list if you’d like to join one.

South Africa is a beautiful country with amazing scenery. To experience its natural and diverse landscape here’s a list of the Best National Parks in South Africa from Journalist on the Run.

The Constantia Nek Circle parking lot address is:  ERF1021 Rhodes Dr, Glen Alpine, Cape Town, 7806, South Africa.

 

The Mountain Meanderers party at the summit of the Constantia Nek walk on the Table Mountain National Park.

The Mountain Meanderers party at the summit of the Constantia Nek walk on the Table Mountain National Park.

By |2019-03-09T04:27:42+00:00March 21st, 2015|Amazing People, Awesome Nature, Hiking|9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Billy Leisegang March 29, 2015 at 10:08 am - Reply

    Another hike is waiting for you on your return trip through Cape Town, perhaps in the beautiful Simon’s Town mountains?

    • Saints March 29, 2015 at 8:42 pm - Reply

      Sounds like a plan Billy! Our shoes will be well and truly ‘broken in’ by then. 🙂

  2. roamingpursuits March 22, 2015 at 8:04 am - Reply

    Interesting images.

    • Saints March 26, 2015 at 4:12 am - Reply

      Cape Town is a beautiful city with so many hikes to explore its diversity.

  3. Diane Webb March 22, 2015 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Great photographs, great read. Well done Billy and the team.

    • Saints March 26, 2015 at 4:09 am - Reply

      Thanks Diane – Billy and team are such an inspiration.

  4. Shirley Gough March 22, 2015 at 3:21 am - Reply

    Well done you 2!

  5. Simon Henry March 21, 2015 at 9:16 am - Reply

    Amazing! Makes me feel our walk in London was just a walk in the park lol. Great story, great pictures, great adventure! 🙂

    • Saints March 22, 2015 at 12:25 pm - Reply

      Thanks Simon, appreciate the feedback.

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