After months of radio silence, we’re back! We hope to incite a lust for adventure by supplying your inbox with a gentle stream of African road tripping images, wildlife shots and general Wuth family shenanigans. Hopefully they’ll burn a desire in your heart to head out into the wilderness and experience the beauty in this world. Maybe they’ll be enough to satisfy your desire, but either way, we hope they give you lots of enjoyment. A glimpse into our life for the next 6 months, the good… and the not so good 🙂 So before all that begins, here is a little bit of what we’ve been up to and how we got here… Read More
Category Archives: Cape Town
This struggle is real. There, I’ve said it. I’ve said what mothers aren’t supposed to say about their kids, or about parenting. But I am owning this difficulty. I don’t see being competitive or non-competitive as a failing, I just see them as being un-harmonious exercise partners, and I have reason for my sudden outburst too. We’ve just done a Parkrun with the kids. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a 5km timed, free event, done around the world every Saturday morning. We decided to go and do the one in Stellenbosch where you wind through the vineyards, views of the misty morning mountains in all directions; it’s nothing short of exquisite. Hard to think of something I would enjoy more on my Saturday morning. Couple that with being with my family and I’m thinking this is the best possible start to the weekend. But let’s put that thought on hold.
I worried that Lola wouldn’t want to do it fast, so I said I’d go with her and we could do it at her pace, while Shaun and Lincoln ran ahead. I did N.O.T. realise what I was committing myself to.
The kids are stellar in the mountains, they can climb, they can run, they have endurance, and they usually love our adventures. Sometimes it takes a bit of convincing, but Shaun and I generally know what will get them fired up. Today was a different day – we don’t win every outdoor adventure with the kids.
I have written many articles about the kids and their differing personalities, Lincoln’s double speed, and Lola’s gentle calm nature. I know who she is, but I guess I don’t always know who I am. Sometimes I surprise myself.
I wasn’t always like this you see. If you ask my parents, they will probably paint a very different picture of me as a kid. Fun loving, happy-go-lucky, always up for an adventure, but not if it meant too much effort on my part. I preferred to be the cheerleader at cycling races where my mum and brothers raced competitively, always there to support, but I found the pressure of my racing with the intention to win, too much. Every time I got to a serious level in my sport, I caved. As soon as the pressure was on I stopped enjoying it. I know this about myself, and I recognise this in Lola. Sure, she may only be 7, but some attributes present themselves early, some fights we have already fought. She is sporty, she is a fast runner and she can do anything she puts her mind to. The problem is she doesn’t like putting her mind to it very often. She gets upset if she doesn’t come first so she often opts not to try. This I understand very well, because it is a carbon copy of me. A genetic blue print if you will. It is also why I struggle to parent her through it. I hate that quality about myself, and it has taken me 34 years of growing up to talk myself through it. She on the other hand only has 7 years of growing up behind her, and many frustrating sporting years ahead, learning that failure is normal and nothing to be embarrassed about. If you give it your all, that’s all anyone can ask.
The problem is, after all this time I have come to enjoy healthy competition, and even though I don’t like being beaten, I’m a little more mature about it now. That is, until a middle aged male looking like he hasn’t run further than from his tv to his fridge in the last 30 years shuffles past me, while Lola and I are walking at a snails pace down a flat road because she doesn’t feel like running. That is when maturity and I part ways. It is also when I bend down very calmly and tell Lola that if she doesn’t pick up her pace I am going to leave her behind.
Now if you know Lola, you know this threat would mean nothing, not because I don’t follow through, but because she does nothing unless she wants to do it. Threats are a vapid string of words to her; it’s like whispering into the wind. She will hold her head high, and with the dignity of the queen mother, dare you with her eyes. She has terrified many an adult with this look. It’s a challenge I always feel compelled to accept, the only problem in a situation like this is that I got 100meters down the road and stopped to wait for her because it’s not entirely safe leaving her alone. While I waited for her to catch up, two sweet old ladies walked past talking about her being like a fairy in a forest. Not half a kilometre up the road we had to stop while Lola had a ‘quick’ look in a forest we were walking past. Their description couldn’t have been more prophetic.
While I stood and watched Lola gazing into the forest, I remembered what I had said to her, we could do the race at her pace. What kind of mother am I if I don’t stick to my word? I knew the answer, I didn’t have to think about it. After a few deep breaths, I decided on a new approach. We would actually do the race at her pace. This meant not trying to make her run, not threatening to go ahead if she didn’t run, and not telling her that her brother and dad were probably already finished in the hopes she’d hurry up. None of which are proud parenting moments for me, but sometimes we mothers slip up too.
I am pleased to say that after that point, we skipped, we galloped, we stopped to smell the flowers – literally, and we walked, even when we were the absolute last people on the course. Ok in all honesty, I did do a bit of encouraging to get her to pass another 7 year old boy and his family so we didn’t come absolutely stone last. That, and the smell of the coffee proved too much for me, and I may have dragged her a little on the home stretch so I could drown myself in a large latte for my sins.
It would be an immense exaggeration to say that I enjoyed the race. For the duration of the event that I was ‘racing’ in my head, I was frustrated, annoyed and ready to throw in the towel. With every glimpse of a short cut home I had to practice good parenting and lecture about perseverance and not giving up. I’m not sure if the lecture was for her or for me. But when I changed my intention, and realised if we were going to finish this thing at all, I had to do it the way I told her we would, at her pace, it suddenly became fun and happy time together. It would be grossly misleading of me to tell you I could do this every time though. I enjoy pushing myself, I enjoy taking up a challenge and seeing what I’ve got, and it’s frustrating that I can’t seem to convince Lola that it’ll be fun. I want her to enjoy it like I do. But then I remind myself what I was like as a youngster, and I remember the wise words my mom shared with me after another rant I was having about the kids.
She said, no matter how much I might want to, I cannot wrap up my experience and give it to my children as a gift. They will make their own mistakes.
Who knows, maybe Lola won’t look back with regret; maybe not competing won’t bother her in the slightest. Maybe, like her mother, she will wish she had taken on the challenge a little more. But it is ultimately her path to forge, and her choices to make. All I can do is encourage, offer opportunities, and watch who she becomes. Keeping my competitive nature to myself will be a challenge, but if this race taught me anything, it’s that I had better stick to my word, because telling her we can take it slow while my every intention is to convince her to run, makes for a very unpleasant morning. And if I multiply that out a little, it will make for one unpleasant childhood as well. And that simply, isn’t fair.
In many ways, it has been a gloomy start to 2016. After the most wonderful family holiday, we rolled into Jan with a dash of apprehension, but mostly, loads of gusto. We had served ourselves a plate of work piled so high, we knew it was going to be soul crushing to get through it. But there it was. We needed all the momentum we could muster to speed roller our way through it. So we hit the year running, determined not to let it get the better of us.
Lola and Lincoln were both punching into big school now so there were wonderful changes afoot, while we were still fastening the wheels back onto the cart after a tumultuous 2015 in our company. And then before we knew it, the year had started.
Two weeks into the year I had a miscarriage. Not the start we had planned, and although you always think you understand when someone else goes through it, dealing with it yourself suddenly opens up a world you knew nothing about. I am a sharer, but this is one piece of our story I have held very close to my heart. It still aches. The timing of it was of course impeccable too, we were on the precipice of a make or break moment for our company. So packaging our emotions neatly into a box where we could safely look through them later, we blundered on. Shaun, into 20-hour workdays punctuated every few weeks by a few hours off. Me, into full time single parenting, mornings of work, and weekends of trying to keep the children busy, in the hopes they won’t ask why dad isn’t with us, again. It’s been Groundhog Day for 4 months.
May the 3rd was our D-day.
Through no easy feat, we accomplished what we had to, scraping in a full 24 hours before the deadline. This in itself was a miracle. It had been a real team effort. We had all taken a hit from the workload, and it was time to get out as a family again. These adventures have been few and far between in the last few months, so we let the kids dictate our movements for the day, while we followed along, thankful we could ride the coattails of their enthusiasm, and just pleased to be spending some quality time together. So after very little deliberation, we hit the road towards town, they wanted to climb Lions Head. This time they added a twist, they wanted to see the cave we have always talked about but never actually been to. So with the route set, we began our climb up the mountain.
The day was perfect.
Perfect in the kind of way only Cape Town can be at the changing of the seasons. The sun’s rays gently caressed the mountain while the day warmed up through beautifully filtered light. There wasn’t a breath of wind and the calm of our surroundings seemed to permeate through us all. Autumn is truly Cape Town at its best.
Sneaking up the front of Lions Head, we managed to avoid the majority of the crowds as we made our way up the city side of the mountain. Steeper and more rugged, it suited us perfectly. The kids could saunter, scramble and race each other at their own pace, leaving us both to reflect, freewheel and file away as we climbed. It was the therapy we needed after the past while and I couldn’t have imagined a better destination.
At the point where you reach the first rocky cliff, you follow the path left and walk around Kloof Neck side of Lions Head, facing Camps Bay. As you round this corner and look up, you stare into the bowels of what was once, undoubtedly, the home of many a Capetonian caveman. We were not alone, there were others on this quest, but they were few and far between, possibly also looking to escape the crowds in search of a place to unpack their own inner chaos. And there it was, inside that cave, the sounds of silence, nothing but a postcard in front of you. The perfect place to unload the heavy satchel you’ve been carrying, scattering your worries amongst the wisps of cloud.
When you live in a bustling city, a place where you can loose yourself to your work, your chequebook, your never ending to-do list or the hurts that haunt you, being able to escape to a sanctuary carved into the side of a mountain, is a blessing no Capetonian should take for granted.
It seemed like the most fitting place to be to reflect, hiding out in our cave on the side of a mountain. Having faced down some of our most challenging moments in the past few months, being able to rest, together and happy, just a little worn down, is treasured time. It’s moments like this when you look at what you’ve been through and realise how fortunate you really are. Simply having a family to be with is one of the greatest blessings.
I’m not sharing our story for sympathy. I’m not sharing it because I think everyone wants to hear our drama. I’m sharing it in the hopes that it can help the people who need to hear it, the ones having a hard time, or the ones who think everyone else has it sorted. There are times when we all need to let go of things, acknowledge what we’ve been through so we can move forward, sometimes to bigger and better things, but sometimes just to peace. Decompression is so necessary. It doesn’t always take a day, in fact it almost never does. But it’s a start. I hope you all have a ‘cave’ you can visit to do just this.
I wish you all moments of peaceful, indispensable, reflection, wherever your cave may be.
Looking for good spots to hike in Cape Town? A number of people have asked me recently and this is one of those times where you are positively spoilt for choice. There is so much on offer it can leave you with decision fatigue. So for those of you who live here, or those visiting on holiday, here is a list of our favourite hikes, both with and without children. So, in no particular order:
This is one of Cape Town’s most popular hikes (and night hikes on or around full moon). Lions Head is right next to the city bowl and has arguably the best views in the Cape, looking over the 12 Apostle Mountains towards the South, Camps Bay, Clifton, the city and surrounds, and all the way out to the Paarl mountains. 360 degrees of awesome!
The walk starts off steeply along a dirt track but flattens off into single track as it winds its way around the mountain. You complete a full circle of the peak before the final summit, which requires agility to ascend the sandstone rock that is its peak. There are sections of rungs bolted into the rock where you need to climb (be weary if you are afraid of heights, but to put it into perspective our children do it with relative ease). Alternatively you can opt to walk around it, which is slightly longer but cuts out the climbing. There are still ladders to scale further up however.
This is an energetic climb but ‘bang for buck’ probably the best hike I’ve ever done. The views are extraordinary and you get very high very fast.
Ability level: You do need to be fairly able bodied and coordinated, but our kids can do this climb without any trouble.
Time: 1.5 hours up and 1 hour down. At a mild pace.
Kasteelpoort (Camps Bay side of Table Mountain)
Undoubtedly one of our children’s favourite routes up Table Mountain. This is not because it is easy. It is in fact, one of the more challenging routes we have done. It is fairly steep, requiring you to do a fair amount of scrambling, using arms as well as strong leg muscles to keep you going up. There is no “easy” on this climb. It is exciting, it is beautiful, and it gets you to the top fast.
Our children get bored when there is nothing for them to “do”, so this is ideal in that they are always climbing, always using their whole bodies, always having to concentrate.
They did this for the first time at 3 and 4 years old, under close supervision (falling over backwards is a very real possibility), but with very little actual help.
Ability level: Not for those looking for a gentle walk (except for the first section of jeep track). Make sure your kids are coordinated, if they are not, walk behind them to steady them. Fairly tiring, but well worth the effort.
Time: 1.5 hours up at a good kids pace, easy pace for us. Less than an hour down.
Skeleton Gorge (Kirstenbosch Gardens side of Table Mountain)
This walk starts inside Kirstenbosch gardens and is beautiful and shady from the outset. It fairly quickly becomes steep stairs, but a wonderful canopy shelters you as you climb the gorge to the top. As you get higher you are required to use your arms as you cross over the gorge and scale boulders, making it a full body climb at times. The last time we did this route our kids were young enough to be in packs on our back. It was tiring going for us as there wasn’t much area to let them walk at 1 and 2 years old. As you get closer to the top it begins to flatten out and you emerge into the sunshine. At this point you can pick one of many return routes.
A great idea is to walk across the top to the cable car for lunch. Don’t underestimate this distance however.
Other options including returning down a different gorge into Kirstenbosch, or walking south and down Constantia Neck.
Ability Level: You need to be willing to sweat going up. It is certainly not for the faint hearted. I would attempt it now with our kids as I think they would manage well (although I’m sure they would have enjoyed it when they were younger too).
Time: Going up you are looking at roughly 1.5 hours, moderate adults pace. From the top it is another 2 hours to the cable car.
Absolutely one of my favourite routes up the mountain. Unspoiled views, incredible fynbos and relative solitude await. Being one of the lesser known, or possibly just lesser climbed paths up the mountain, makes this even more enjoyable. The climb includes all types of terrain; normal climbing, short rock faces, some stairs, as well as flatter sections. There are great lookout points and interesting rock formations as you get closer to the top.
Cresting the final rise gives the most breath-taking view of Lions Head and Table Mountain from the south; I could sit there for hours.
The hike begins next to the entrance to Ruyterplaats Estate, at the top of Suikerbossie in Hout Bay.
Ability level: We have walked this a couple of times with our kids but it took us a few tries before we reached the top and required determination to get there. Not recommended for young children or those with no hiking experience. There are a few sections of climbing up rock faces, narrow paths with steep drop-offs, as well as slippery rocks in the rainy season.
Time: It took us about 3.5 hours to reach the top of the climb. This did include a lot of stopping. You could continue on along the top of the mountain at this point or turn around and walk down again. We turned around and it took us 2 hours to reach the bottom.
There are a number of walks you can do up Chapmans Peak. The first starts at the old forts, and winds its way up the first mountain. We have never been to the top, but it is a lovely gentle climb to while away a few hours on a weekend.
If you park at the check point near the top of Chapmans Peak, you can walk up a beautiful path surrounded by magnificent Cape fynbos.
This path diverges after reaching the first plateau. You can either walk east towards Muizenburg, or you can turn right, heading west up a path which leads to a rocky out crop with a look out over Noordhoek, Hout Bay and False Bay.
Ability level: You needn’t be very fit; it is a gradual climb that can be taken at your own pace. Old and young alike can manage and it has wonderful views once you have crested the first plateau.
Time: At a medium pace with our kids we took 1.5 hours to get to the rocky outcrop over Noordhoek, once you follow the path right.
Note: Chapmans Peak is still closed to hikers from the 2015 fires and is currently devoid of its proliferous, lush, fynbos.
This well walked and popular tourist climb is +/- 1km to the left of the cableway. It is steep going from the start and the majority of this climb is a winding, rocky staircase. You don’t have to be incredibly fit, you can do this at any pace, plodding slowly up. It is deceptively long and deceptively high however. We recently walked up with our kids (accustomed to this madness), a friend of ours, and his son. All the kids were full of beans on the way up, racing to be in first place, but needed encouragement on the way down.
This climb is not easy on the knees so if you have knee issues consider a different route down (potentially the cable car).
It is a fun climb to get to the top and see all the other tourists who cruised up in the cable car, and then join them for some lunch in the restaurant.
Ability level: Strong knees required, but that withstanding, you just need the heart to reach the top. No climbing/scrambling sections. No ladders. No flat sections.
Time: If you are fit and strong, approximately 1 hour. With kids, it took us 2 hours. Once you reach the top it is another 20 minutes to the cable station. Down we managed in roughly 1 hour.
A firm favourite with the southern suburb locals. There are numerous paths and dirt roads to be explored and you will be doing it in the company of a wide variety of both animals and people. Despite the frequency of visitors to this part of the mountain, it remains beautiful and filled with wildlife. We have encountered many snakes on our walks here and if you persevere to the top of the mountain you will be rewarded with wonderful views and a flat surface to explore while resting your legs for the descent.
On a hot day you can take a dip in the reservoir on the top of the mountain and enjoy breath-taking views of the Atlantic Ocean if you walk west to the top of Llandudno Ravine.
Ability level: Any age, shape or size. You walk as far and as high as you can. There are many options in this area.
Time: Your route. Your choice. (Roughly 1.5 hours to the top with our children)
A route for the adventurous. Not something we have attempted with the kids yet. You climb up directly beneath the cable cars and follow the path as it skirts around to Camps Bay where it heads straight up to the cable car area.
This route has lots of climbing, some hair-raising height sections and requires lots of spirit.
You would normally see the more seasoned hikers walking this route but that’s no reason why you shouldn’t give it a shot. The hiking is varied and offers a bit of everything.
Ability Level: This is a great option for relatively fit people looking for an exciting climb (or anyone with lots of heart).
Time: Roughly half a day’s hike up and down, depending on your speed. If we took our kids I’d imagine it would be closer to 6 hours.
Cruising the Top
The trick here is you have to get to the top somehow. We are never ones to queue for the cable car, but if you don’t mind that, head up for some breakfast with a view, and pick your route across the top. I am always surprised by the topography on the top of the mountain, regardless of how often we have been up there; it is unbelievably varied. There are valleys of lush fynbos, dry rocky outcrops and rivers that wind their way towards plummeting ravines.
Our favourite side to walk is from the cable car towards Llandudno Ravine.
You walk down through valleys, up and over hills (no, it’s not flat up there) and all while enjoying peace, quiet and relative solitude.
Ability Level: There is something for everyone, even if you only walk along the viewing area next to the cable car.
Time: There are route markers on the top of the mountain with estimated hiking times, use those as a guide when planning your route.
…Now get out there and enjoy our mountains!…
Victoria Mall, Cnr Victoria & Empire Roads, Hout Bay. Cape Town
tel: 021 790 8008
Kiddo’s Declare… It’s Love
Parentals Take… Firm favourite
Overall Rating… 8/10 **********
What’s to do?
This could quite easily be described as the Hout Bay locals ‘go-to’ spot. There is a deck area outside but no garden or play area for children however. This is more of an adult spot and caters to the meeting population of Hout Bay during the week. If your kids are able to sit at a table and eat then you wont have a problem, but if they need to run around I wouldn’t recommend this restaurant as a sit down spot for you (unless you can distract them with iPads and phones). Rather pop in for a take out coffee (which is great) and get one of their delicious muffins or cakes to go.
It is perfect for breakfast, brunch and lunch, (closes at 5) and they have a fantastic selection of cakes and muffins for tea. They cater to vegans, wheat intolerances, banting diets and most peculiarities. Their cooked meals are mouth watering and I have yet to be disappointed with what I order.
Discerning Lola – opted for a gluten free bran muffin. She gobbled up the whole thing and then ordered scrambled egg on gluten free bread, which she then declared was the best bread she’s ever eaten. Even better than mine.
Less-fussy Lincoln – he too had scrambled egg on gluten free toast with extra bacon. The bacon didn’t survive more than a minute on his plate but the egg and toast was consumed at a more medium pace. Big thumbs up from both mini critics.
The Parentals – Shaun wolfed down a croissant with egg and bacon. He has yet to complain about anything he puts in his mouth from La Cuccina. I tried something new, getting the poached eggs with roasted tomatoes and bacon on corn-fritters. They were incredible, as is every other morsel in the restaurant.
The Coffee?! – Delicious, every time!
The attention to detail is evident in each cup of coffee, complete with a freshly baked biscuit. Every staff member greets you and your water glass is never empty, this is a rare treat in South Africa.
Our experience has been one of friendliness and fantastic food, both with and without the kids.
La Cuccina comes highly recommended.
Having a body clock set to the crack of dawn can be a wonderful thing, especially as the weather turns and Cape Town’s mornings have a warm clarity about them. Jumping out of bed with a wicked enthusiasm to hit the mountains reminds me of what it was like going skiing. Only I get to put on far less clothing and needing the loo just before you leave the house is fraught with considerably less aerobics. Regardless of what time I wake up however, getting Shaun and Lola ready to leave the house is like trying to wake a bear from hibernation. There is much grogginess, grumpiness, and a general disillusionment about the morning. Dangling the carrot of a hike up the mountain, finally gets them to the kitchen, and after Lincoln and I have run several laps around the dining room and sung karaoke to countless songs while Lola and Shaun finish breakfast, we all scramble into the car to hit the only mountain in sight with no clouds on the top. In Cape Town, a warm clarity in the morning means nothing for the rest of the day; the weather here can turn like a cornered celebrity.
So with very few options, off to Constantia Neck we head. Being a public holiday, coupled with our poor forward planning and all of Cape Town’s active population having the same idea, we were stuck in hiker’s rush hour.
Never start hiking at 9am!
We had a lunch date at 12 so this set the tone for the hike upfront. The name of the game was speed. I’m quite sure I repeated this several times just to make sure everyone had got it.
No one got it. I would be lying if I said the kids hit the mountain with any speed what so ever. There was a lot of feet dragging, moaning about the fact that the path went up, eye rolling, staged protests, and several stops in the first 10 meters to sit on rocks. Oh yes, our children too, are human. We certainly can’t win them all. With a little whip cracking and threats of being left at home the next time, they did manage to up their game somewhat. There was more backpacking than usual, more whining, and more disenchantment, until we found our first snake that is. Noisy, black and a tail that seemed to go on forever, Lola was jolted into the morning with rapture! It (the snake and Lola’s rapture) made its departure rather hastily as we climbed the less travelled path to the top of Table Mountain. Lincoln and Shaun had opted to walk on the dirt road with the rest of the pilgrims, so Lola and I enjoyed that viewing alone. As we neared the meeting point of the two paths, we casually walked past another snake, this time a Boomslang. This too was rather noisy, and alerted us to its presence. Only after calling Lincoln and Shaun did the beautiful yellow and black snake slither its way onto the top of a bush and watch us for what felt like ages. I may casually mention it’s a boomslang now, but had we known that at the time I don’t think we would have stood by so casually. At the time we were intrigued that it showed such an interest in us, seemed completely at ease, and made its nonchalant way right in front of us along the path, instead of heading back into the bushes. It was an incredible sighting and reminded us how careful we should be when strolling along our mountain paths, particularly at this time of year. When you’ve done something enough times you tend to adopt a rather blasé attitude towards it. Mindful caution is never a bad thing.
The name of the kids game not having been speed, meant that we had to up the pace on the way down. In an attempt to get the children fired up, Shaun and I implemented sprint training into the hike. One of us would walk with the kids while the other ran down the mountain about 50 meters and then turned and sprinted back up to the others. We took turns doing this until we were exhausted and the effort was completely lost on the kids, whose comments were more concerned with making sure Shaun and I ran the same distance and sprinted as fast as each other all the way back. Lincoln, never liking to be excluded from a race, did finally join in. At no point however, did Lola bow down. Peer pressure is completely lost on that one (I’ll thank my lucky stars in 10 years time!).
I certainly won’t chalk this hike down as a win, the kids obviously didn’t feel it, despite the wildlife viewing successes. Sometimes though, Shaun and I just need to feel the mountain under our feet and get some distance between us, and the rest of civilisation. On that score a hike is always a win, regardless of how the children fair. Even a bad hike gives perspective, and sometimes that’s all we’re looking for.
Would I do this again? Yes. We have actually done this hike many times, but so has half of Germany. It is a great walk, offers options for different fitness levels and has incredible views over the Constantia wine-lands and False Bay. It is popular though, so if you are looking to get some space, this isn’t the walk for you.
What to be aware of? There are quite a lot of dogs on this walk; most are not on a leash. Be mindful if your kids are dog phobic.
Due to the efforts to restore the natural Cape Town flora, almost all of the tall alien trees have been cut down. This leaves a very sunny hike with little-to-no shelter. Go prepared: take water, hats and sunblock. We walked past more than a few overcooked tourists.
A recent foray up Little Lions Head had us looking down on Sandy Bay and the southern end of some of South Africa’s most prime real estate. Llandudno. Oh, how the sun shines brighter, the air smells sweeter, and the houses are built for royalty.
Our not being royalty means spending time in this neck of the woods puts us at a distinct advantage, we can truly appreciate it. The views are spectacular, the cleanliness top notch, and being relatively remote meant the rocks we chose to explore were entirely devoid of people.
There is a huge rocky outcrop that extends around the southern bend of Llandudno, sneaking in and out around the coastline towards Hout Bay. Exploring the section before Sandy Bay was a treat we’ve been anticipating for a long while. Saturday’s weather was perfect form for a morning next to the sea, so we gathered the kids, had a delicious breakfast at our local favourite spot, and hit the rocks.
The more popular Llandudno rocks to explore are at the northern end of the bay, there are almost always people hopping around the rocks and solitude is a luxury you don’t have there. Now I realise having two children means solitude is a luxury we don’t have anywhere, but I would happily pick the company of my kids in the outdoors. They are happy, inquisitive and respectful. Three qualities we constantly encourage, placing great importance on them in our explorations. So, taking my monkeys (including my husband) and hitting the lesser-known rocks on the southern end, was bliss.
If you park in the Sandy Bay parking and walk down the road instead of towards Sandy Bay, you will discover a path leading straight out to the rocks. There is no bush whacking required, and the rocks are almost touching the road.
The view is breath taking.
Arriving in the morning meant we were lucky enough to catch the last of the cool misty air, giving the bay a magical quality and making you feel even further away from the mundane. We were pleasantly alone, and allowed to roam the rocks, climbing, hopping, and appreciating the beauty that surrounded us. We found a perfect rocky cove where the waves swept in and out at a pace that allowed us to play in the water without being knocked over. The water was as expected, unequivocally frigid, but a beautiful fresh start to the warmer weather and the promise of spring.
This is a hideout I intend to visit often in the coming warmer months. If you looking for something a little off the beaten track, I would recommend giving these rocks a try.
Would I do this again? This is an affirmative. Absolutely. Yes. Let’s go!
What to be aware of? Llandudno gets the sun quite a bit later than the rest of Cape Town, being on the west side and all. So if you go early in the morning take a jersey, there can be a nip in the air.
Some of the rocks are quite knobbly, I would suggest a pair of flip flops or comfy shoes to go rock hopping in.
Cape Town is largely considered the cesspit of foul winter weather in South Africa, but those of us who live here know that that is simply not the case. The majority of winter days are mild, sometimes cloudy, but usually sunny affairs. This is a great place to live! With that in mind, we planned our Saturday hike in the great outdoors. What we didn’t take into consideration was Cape Town’s temperamental, often moody countenance. Yes, if Cape Town had a sex, it would be female.
Reports of a gentle breeze on Saturday turned out to be more of a blustery surprise, like finding tomatoes inside your macaroni, it was unpleasant. After being marginally deterred, but deciding we all needed the fresh air, we packed ourselves up and headed out the door, onwards and upwards, we were Little Lions Head bound.
Perched on the ridge between Llandudno and Hout Bay, sits Little Lions Head, so named for its close resemblance to the real Lions Head which overlooks the city and Atlantic seaboard. It is the cute little sister, but with more rocks on her head. This of course suited our children down to the ground. It was that alone that spurred our children on, calling them to the top of the mountain, despite the persistent wind.
This was a first for our family. I mean we have been up it before, but Lincoln was about 7 months old and strapped to the back of his Uncle, while Lola, being just over a year and a half, was securely fastened to her dad. So as far as actually climbing this little nub of a mountain is concerned, it was a first for them.
It is a relatively easy climb, where you can enjoy views over the surrounding valleys and the Atlantic Ocean while not being too out of breath. It isn’t ridiculously high so can easily be managed, up and down, in under an hour and a half. We took longer, we hid from the wind a bit, lingered on the top and soaked up the sun’s rays, so spent about 2 and a half hours playing and shooting the breeze. No better place to do it.
After a nice, moderately steep walk up the side, you have to climb a few, rather rocky ledges to get to the top. They are fairly easy to negotiate, and the children climbed them (under our guidance) on their own. They need help with foot placements sometimes, but usually it’s just for our peace of mind. The entire top of the peak is rock and offers great hiding nooks for the kids to play in. On this particular outing our children were squirrels, and commandeered our entire bag of nuts. While they ate enough to see them through a winter’s hibernation, Shaun and I lay on the rocks in the sun, sheltered by beautiful granite boulders, and counted all we had to be thankful for. This mountain was definitely one of them.
Climbing down the rock was as fun as climbing up it, and I think the kids would quite happily have done it all over again if they weren’t being blown around like dust-bunnies in a vacuum cleaner. After issuing instructions like “bend over so the wind can’t blow you away!” we knew it was time to hasten a retreat.
Hasten we did. Lincoln slipped potentially 10 times while clinging to Shaun’s arm for support. Lola slipped once, but properly, covering about 3 meters, bruising her rump and grazing her hand. Thankfully Shaun and I stayed on out feet, enabling a swift and happy return to the road and thence our car.
It was a great morning out, despite Cape Town’s surprise wind attack, and all the therapy we needed after a rough week.
Would I do this again? Absolutely. It was a quick and easy climb, getting us relatively high up with a great view in minimal time. There was no one else on the mountain and we always enjoy a bit of solitude on our excursions. A big thumbs up, especially for the climbing.
What to be aware of? I wouldn’t recommend the climbing for inexperienced or first time child climbers, but most able-bodied adults should be able to manage without a problem. I remember when we did this with the kids in backpacks I was terrified. I definitely wasn’t terrified this time, but then my experience has come a long way too.
I anticipate finger wagging and head shaking, but our latest adventure was less un-clad than it sounds.
I remember my parents always saying, “It’s not your driving we’re worried about, it’s everyone else’s”. Well, this scenario was the same, kind of. It wasn’t our being naked you had to worry about; it was everyone else’s.
Sandy Bay is Cape Town’s only fully nude beach, and it is breathtakingly beautiful. It is just south of Llandudno beach, along a stretch of mountain and coastline that is nature reserve. There are no houses, no shacks, no man made structures of any kind, only pristine white sandy beaches and incredible rock formations stretching out into the Atlantic. To get to it, you have to walk about a kilometre from the parking lot at the southern end of Llandudno, or, and this is obviously the route we prefer, you have to climb the Hout Bay sand dunes and then go down the other side until they reach their end on the beaches of Sandy Bay.
Our adventure began with the idea of riding to the sand dunes and playing on them for the morning, this part is not uncommon in the least. I needed a run so this started off well as the kids sped along next to me on their bikes, while Dad took the car as a much needed fall back plan for the way home. After making our way to the top of the Hout Bay dunes we couldn’t help but jump and dive our way down the silky-soft windblown sand, until we were already half way down the other side, Sandy Bay side. Obviously, being halfway down, we decided it only logical that we go for a jaunt on the beach. So as our sand dune wound itself down into a stubbly rocky path, we gave the kids a quick instruction guide as to how to conduct themselves on the beach.
1. There is to be no pointing. Particularly no pointing and laughing!
2. They must stay with us at all times.
3. If we issue an instruction, they will listen.
With the puzzled looks, we quickly explained that this was a place that some people like to wear no clothes, and they are permitted to wear no clothes. This is not a place for us to judge them. I’m not sure this sounded at all strange to them as they are no strangers to nudity. They would be naked all day everyday if it were up to them, and I think they quite seriously believe that if adults wanted to be naked they would be too.
But caution did prevail and we wanted the children to be prepared if they saw anything strikingly uncommon, which lets be honest, is likely on a nude beach. It is winter however, so climatic conditions were in our favour. The beach was almost devoid of people, so it was the four of us, a large expanse of pristine beach, and kilometres of rock to explore. It was perfect.
South Africa, having more crime than we would like, meant that Shaun, being the careful and vigilant husband and father that he is, instructed us to leave all valuables at home. He didn’t want to attract any attention. This is a valid concern in this area, but one which makes taking photo’s, to show you how incredibly beautiful this area is, impossible. It did give us a chance to prance around on the rocks and follow them out into the sea, unconcerned about sea-spray from enormous waves breaking over the flowing forms of ocean-crafted boulders.
By mid-day we could see the determined, all weather naturalists arriving along the Llandudno path, so quitting while we were ahead, we decided to make our way up the dune and back over to the safety of our clothed neck of the woods. It was relatively easy to steer the children around boulders and along paths that completely obscured the view of any sun-seeking nudists. I feel our chances would have been somewhat diminished had we attempted this in summer. But given our children’s complete nonchalance to anyone else within eyeshot, I’m not sure they would have even noticed. Their focus was on bouldering, playing make believe games on their ‘pirate ship’, gargantuan wave spotting and nibbling on pre-packed snacks.
Getting them back up the knobbly path to the sand dune was a somewhat tedious feat, but once they reached the sand dune and scrambled their way to the top, they promptly turned around and dived and giggled their way back down it again. Thankfully we have learned, through much practice and trickery, that our children’s ‘exhaustion’ can often be attributed to boredom, which was obviously the case here. I tell you this as a warning, don’t let your children fool you.
Would I do this again? Yes. But probably not in summer. Or any great weather. Or after midday. Despite our mild concerns before heading onto the beach with the kids, this turned out to be a great morning out. A perfect example of a spontaneous adventure gone right! … This is not always the case with children.
This is a truly beautiful, remote piece of Cape Town to explore, if you’re feeling ‘ballsy’ enough.
What to be aware of? Sadly, as with all of our incredible country, crime is a reality. Keep your eyes open, keep your wits about you, and don’t take anything valuable. There have been reports of muggings along the path from Llandudno.
As for the obvious nudists, we managed not to encounter any at close range. They were around, tanning, strolling on the far side of the beach, but nothing that caught our children’s eyes or interest.
Shoes, we left in the car, but the knobbly path after the dunes, is rather knobbly. It didn’t faze Shaun or the kids, but my clearly delicate paws took a beating along the trail.
Photo credits obviously not my own. Thanks to www.millerslocal.co.za and www.noxrentals.co.za.
Disclaimer: Shaun and I are not prudes. When it comes to our children however, we would rather err on the side of caution.
Now this is a rare treat, a blog post about the Wuth family at home. While my normal writing covers our adventures outside the home, I thought it about time I let you glimpse the chaos within our walls. Given that the weather has been somewhat frosty of late, we felt the time had come to undertake a project we have been putting off for quite some time… mounting beds to the wall in the kids room, so they could both be ‘on the top bunk’ as the request went.
When they came to us with this idea a few months ago, we immediately put it into the ‘never gonna happen’ box. After a little thought and a lot of research, I found a do-it-yourself guide to building and mounting beds at your chosen height. This meant we could provide them both with the optimal ‘top bunk’ position, without having to fit four beds into one room.
I subsequently spent the next two months perfecting my plan and deciding what we needed to make this work. I thought my plan was pretty solid. The fact that I have no idea about engineering or ‘weight bearing joints’ was irrelevant, I was going to figure it out as I went. If the beds were a little wobbly, well, the kids would just have to be more careful on them.
So the kids and I spent the last week of the holidays painting their new room. Lola wanted black, Lincoln wanted blue. We called a truce with one wall of each. We were ready for the hard labour to begin.
Now something I probably should have mentioned earlier is that Shaun is not a fan of DIY. In fact, he rather detests it. Things never go according to plan, it always takes about 5 times longer than you think, and the finished product is never perfect.
So, after convincing Shaun that this was something that had to happen sooner or later, I drafted the plans for him… he was less than pleased with my design…
Shaun: “What happens if 5 children are bouncing on the bed at the same time?”
Mary: “Well they can’t can they? They will bump their heads on the ceiling!”
Shaun: “What happens when we’re all up there together?”
Mary: “Well we’ll have to move slowly.”
Shaun: “What happens if the bed collapses with the children in it?”
Mary: “Well then they’ll land on the mattress and it’ll be a soft fall.”
This carried on for a while. Nowhere in our marriage preparation classes did they cover DIY conflict. This should be rectified.
So, we (Shaun) spent the whole of Saturday morning redesigning my structural work, while I watched 2 months of fruitless preparation disintegrate in front of my eyes. We then spent the whole of Saturday afternoon at the hardware store, followed directly by the toy store where we had to pick up Lincolns birthday present for the next day. These shops are not places you should take your children to!
They literally pretended to be dogs at the hardware store, hiding in the kennels and crawling around on the floor. Have you ever seen the state of a hardware store’s floor at the end of a day? You should have an idea of condition they were in when we got home then.
We began our ‘Saturday morning’ project at 4 o’clock that afternoon. Anything tip you off that we were off to a bad start? By the kids bed time, 7pm, we had built the ladder and measured where the beds were going to go. If nothing else, Shaun and I have stubbornness in common. This meant the kids where going to listen to our drilling long into the night, so long in fact, that they were begging us to go to bed.
By 10 o’clock, we had one wall bolt in the corner of one bed and realised we had drilled the wrong size holes for all the others. We checked out for the night before one of us filed for divorce papers. As it turns out, Shaun and I aren’t that good at DIY’ing together. We don’t see eye to eye, particularly when things start going wrong.
Sunday was a new day; we would tackle the problems when we were fresh. The fact that it was Lincoln’s birthday would just mean that the beds would be a birthday present. The 2 social engagements we had planned for the day would have to be shuffled around. Totally do-able.
After a rocky start with a few ‘poorly drilled’ holes, prematurely dried cement and scraping my fresh paint off the wall, we got the job done at 6 o’clock that evening. Leaving enough time to take Lincoln out for his birthday dinner.
They did get to sleep in their new beds that night and the joy of it almost made the effort worthwhile. I know as the hard work fades to a distant memory it will look like a terribly sensible project. It is certainly flavour of the moment and all current play dates happen on the top of the bunk beds, yes, five bouncing children. Maybe Shaun was right all along, but that’s not something I’m going to admit in a hurry.