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hiking with kids Archives - A Familia Adventure

The Great Escape

By | Hikes, Our Travels | No Comments

As the year screams by and we hit the second school term like a herd of stampeding wildebeest, we realise how important it is to stop and take a look around. It’s May for crying in a bucket. We seem to have snoozed through 4 months of the year already and before we know where we are, our kids have lost another tooth, decided sleeping at friends is way cooler than sleeping at home, and taken up computer games as their official hobby. How did this happen? Snooze through another stretch and we’ll find them driving out the front gate yelling, “See you after first semester!” It terrifies me. I’m no longer creeping closer to my mid 30’s, I find myself in a head on collision with my 35th birthday and no way of avoiding it. How did that happen? Where are the brakes?

Luckily, the Easter holidays meant we could escape for 3 nights in the Cederberg mountains, about as close as we could get to hitting the brakes on life. Just the 4 of us, mountain paths for miles, with all we needed slung over our shoulders. We could do as we pleased, governed only by the sun and the stars; no technology, no phone calls, no work… nothing short of bliss.

The kids have been nagging to do a trip like this since Shaun and I did a similar one last year for our 10 year anniversary. They made sure we knew what their requirements were. They wanted to:

     1. climb lots of rocks,
     2. sleep in a tent,
     3. swim in a clear mountain pool, and
     4. not do too much hiking.

1. Tick 2. Tick 3. Tick and 4. …we’ll try our best.

Knocking our intrepid Wuth exploration genes into the background, we set about planning a route that was low on mileage and high on fun! Then we started with the practicalities of what we were undertaking; we put the kids’ packs on their backs and filled them up to test how much weight they could carry.

4.5kg’s, that’s it. It is 1/6th of their body weight, but it doesn’t go a long way in covering what they need for 3 nights in the mountains.

To put it in perspective, they could carry their clothes, and a camelbak bladder full of water. So Shaun and I equipped ourselves with some lightweight packs with extra storage space so we could carry the additional sleeping bags, mats, bottles and food we would need. We also had to take a 4-man tent as opposed to a 2-man one, which added an extra 4kg’s. At this point we were extremely grateful for all of our ironman training – it was going to be necessary.

Logistics taken care of and packs filled to overflowing, we set off for the Cederberg. Thankfully we had called ahead to check on the level of the rivers to make sure there would be water on the route we had decided on, only to find out that the route we had planned had been devastated by a fire a few months earlier. This meant a last minute change of plan. No major shake up for the gallant Wuth clan, we amended the route, ensured there was water available in the rivers, and hit the trail. Not before we could each stuff 2 white candy Easter eggs in our mouths of course, it was the Easter holidays after all.

We started our hike at 5pm and we had an uphill climb of about 3km’s before reaching an area flat enough to pitch our tent. We had worked out our route based on the Slingsby maps and quickly realised that they were not entirely accurate. At 3km’s up we realised that it was more like 5km’s until it flattened out. The kids were troupers, pushing through the first gruelling stretch like mountain goats. The 4kg packs turned out to be perfect in weight for them, and they could surge on ahead of us while we laboured under the weight of 4 days’ worth of food and 10 litres of water. Thankfully the kids happened upon a perfect little patch of flat ground that looked out over the Algeria valley, just as the light was reaching its last faint breath. It was perfect. Even a dinner of cold rice and biltong wasn’t enough to dampen the children’s spirits, and they went to sleep happy, with the stars an unspoiled canopy above us.

 

Day 2 we awoke on top of the clouds, a soft white blanket stretching across the valley in front of us. We were alone on the mountain, dazzling sun rising to the East, and a day of exploring ahead of us. A cappuccino and bowl of hot oats completed the perfection, and off we set to conquer the remainder of the mountain.

 

Our morning was spent lazing next to hundred-year-old oak trees on the top, and bathing in the fresh river that meandered its way across the summit. Lola found (what we decided were) leopard footprints, and we tracked them across the top as they crisscrossed our path, causing great apprehension as to whether they were hiding in the rocky ledges nearby. After consulting our less than trusty map (although we weren’t aware just how untrustworthy at the time), we decided to follow an old path down a gorge on the mountain, to a point where there were 2 large pools at the main river below. In theory, this was a great decision, in practice, something else entirely. The ‘old path’ turned out to be an ancient path. In fact, there was almost no path to speak of. To make matters worse, there had been a fire in the past few months, which the ranger had neglected to mention when we asked about the route. The fire had proved handy in that it cleared the route of overgrown vegetation, but was a hindrance in the loose rocks and ground it left in its wake. Had we realised the length of the descent we were undertaking, we might have changed our minds. At the time however, we could only see bubbling mountain pools (in our minds eye), and the shortest route of getting there. Damn our overzealousness.

 

As is the Wuth way, we spent the rest of the day scrambling down the mountain getting covered in soot, cutting our shins on the overgrown vegetation and apologising to the kids, telling them this was not our best work, and really not what we’d had in mind at all. As the sun began to set and we still had not located the path at the bottom of the gorge, Shaun set down his pack and relentlessly combed through the scrubby bush that surrounded us so at least we’d have a path to set off on the following morning. Thankfully, after about 4km’s of walking in what Shaun describes as a ‘scientifically-exploratory-fashion’, plotting markers on his watch at intervals of where the route was supposed to be, he finally found the dregs of the path. It was like finding a needle in a haystack. It was incredibly overgrown and was going to be no fun to follow, but it had to be done if we wanted to get to the river, and home. We had to settle for a small stream to collect water and wash in, but judging by the children’s glee it might as well have been a water-park. We were all exhausted, the children had been such troopers and we knew there was another gruelling day ahead of us, so we made camp on the first flat rocky outcrop we could find, and let the emotions of the day wash over us as we watched the stars climb into the sky.

 

Day 3 greeted us with blue skies and happy children, the rough patches of yesterday all forgotten – kids are amazing that way. We knew it wouldn’t last long with what lay ahead, so we let them goof about in their ‘fort’, and eat their breakfast leisurely on the top of ‘look-out’ rock, enjoying the quiet and the stillness of the morning. After getting the kids to put on their pyjama pants underneath their hiking pants to protect their legs from the scrubby bush, we were ready to hit the road. Well, not a road at all really, it was more like walking through a hedge. It was dry and rough and scratchy. We lost the path every couple of meters and had to beat through the bush to find if again. We crossed several river gorges with no water and scrambled up sheer rock faces. I’ve always said I’m not sure how we landed up lucky enough to have such resilient children, but yet again we were in awe. With the promise of a large river pool in the distance, the children pushed on. We carried them (and their packs… and our packs) when we thought the bush was too tall and the scrub too rough for them to walk through. We’d manage about a hundred meters and then have to put them down to catch our breath. It was relentless going. After about 4 hours of bushwhacking, the path finally opened up and we could actually see our feet in front of us. It was glorious! We made quick ground after that and got to our lunch spot and river pool not a moment too soon.

The water was cool, crystal clear, and sweet. There is something special about drinking water that has come straight down a mountain, untouched by other people, unfiltered and un-chlorinated. Swallowing the odd tadpole didn’t seem to bother the kids much either, but the tiny, 1mm leeches sunning themselves on a rock in the middle of the river disturbed them quite a bit – not enough to deter the skinny-dipping however.

 

We could have stayed all day and all night in that fresh, cool, oasis of ours, basking next to the river in the dappled sunlight, but we had a fixed amount of food and we were quickly nibbling our way through our dry crackers and oat bars. Lengthening our stay wasn’t an option, we had to head for home if we wanted to be eating anything on the way there. So after soaking ourselves clean and washing our clothes, we set off. It was a steep mountain we had to climb before we found any flat ground to camp on, so we pulled out the big guns; we told the children they could eat as much chocolate as they liked when they got to the top. I’m laying it out for you: this is how we get our kids to do these ridiculous things. There is no magic to our ways, simply lots of cunning… and a large sack of treats.

We couldn’t keep pace with the kids up that mountain. Sure, we had added several litres of water to our packs, but they were fast. They needed no encouragement. They, in fact, were encouraging us. What I had expected to be one hell of an awful climb, turned out to be the easiest of the lot! Thank you Lindt!

The top of that mountain was like being on a bridge between 2 worlds. Reality and civilisation loomed in front of us, while freedom and escape lay behind us. It was our last night on the mountain, and it would be a lie to say we were glad the hike was coming to an end. It was the break we had all needed. It was full of difficult climbs and treacherous descents, baking hot weather and worries about our choice of route, but it was also full of jokes and laughter, incredible views and learning more about each other, appreciating food for the sustenance it is, and water for its life giving qualities. There was nothing we took for granted, because everything we took we had to carry. It is an experience I would encourage every family to have together, an escape hard to replicate in the concrete jungle of convenience that is our world.

We woke up on our last morning to the sounds of utter silence. Not many creatures live that high up the mountains, and it is strange to have only the gentle breeze keeping you company as you watch your tiny cooker boil water for your morning coffee. The stillness sits inside you, like a tiny pebble dropped into a lake, the ripples moving through you and over you. But the sun waits for no man, and the descent back to reality began, breakfast over, tent packed up, and off we set.

It was a long walk back; we definitely didn’t get no.4 of the kids’ demands list right on this day. It was beautiful and rugged, but hot and devoid of water. We watched 2 Verreaux eagles soaring above us for hours as we covered the 14km journey back to our car. Whether they were the same 2 we had seen on the previous days I can’t be sure, but they were a constant reminder to me of why we were doing this trip. Their grace and power was beautiful beyond words, it was awesome – in the true sense of the word.

Scraping the last of our sense of humour from the bottom of the barrel, we managed to keep ourselves together until we reached the campsite at the end of what-should-have-been-a-morning-but-turned-into-almost-a-full-day’s hike. There was really only one thing we all needed at that point and anyone within eyeshot could have told you … a shower. It really is the everyday conveniences you come to appreciate after 4 days in the wilderness. I have been trying hard to teach my kids appreciation, but all it takes is a holiday like this for them to realise all they have back home. Suddenly running water and a toilet take on a whole new meaning.

Despite the buchwhacking, the heat and the fires, the kids had an absolute ball. There were times they lost their sense of humour, and times Shaun and I doubted our sanity, but that happens no matter where we are. It was such a fantastic holiday we’ve decided to make it a bi-annual event. Now we’re all looking forward to the resurgence of some warmer weather so we can do it all again!

 

 

Hiking in Cape Town

By | Cape Town, Hikes | One Comment

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:

Lions Head by evening light

Lions Head by evening light

Lions Head
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.
Highly recommended!

 

Nearing the top of Kasteelpoort climb with the kids

Nearing the top of Kasteelpoort climb with the kids

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.

 

Above Kirstenbosch  gardens climbing Skeleton gorge.

Above Kirstenbosch gardens climbing Skeleton gorge.

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.

 

Rounding Llandudno corner on the way down.

Rounding Llandudno corner on the way down.

 

Llandudno Ravine
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.

 

The view over Hout Bay from the top of the Chapmans Peak climb, above Noordhoek.

The view over Hout Bay from the top of the Chapmans Peak climb, above Noordhoek.

Chapmans Peak
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.

 

Looking down Platteklip Gorge.

Looking down Platteklip Gorge.

Platteklip Gorge
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.

 

Walking the service road up Constantia Nek.

Walking the service road up Constantia Nek.

Constantia Neck
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)

 

India Venster in the rainy months.

India Venster in the rainy months.

India Venster
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.

 

Exploring the top of Table Mountain.

Exploring the top of Table Mountain.

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!…

Beaverlac – South Africa’s very own Garden of Eden

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An absolute delight! This is the gathering place of the Gods, the point where water, rock and mountain meet to play. If you are a nature lover, this is pure indulgence.

For years we have been hearing about Beaverlac. “The most incredible rock pools”… “such a great getaway” … “an escape from everything, no phones, no music, just crackling campfires at night”. Honestly, I thought everyone was making much a do about nothing. Until we got there.

The campsite is nothing particularly special, especially if you are allergic to Plane trees, as is my predicament. The majority of it is grassed, slightly sloping, but perfectly comfortable to camp on. The combination of Plane and Oak trees offer a fair amount of shade, but if you are there in spring time make sure you have allergy meds with you, the ‘puff’ balls spare no expense in ensuring the entire area is covered in a light dusting of pollen and fibres. Now although the camping area is nothing to write home about, setting foot along the path towards the main ‘rock pool’ gives you an idea that there may be something magical lurking around the corner. The path very quickly becomes rocky and difficult single track, made especially difficult by the fact that we were all on our bikes. Not anticipating what lay around the bend, we made a frankly ill advised decision on our means of transportation. After discarding our bikes behind a rather large, shrub-obscured boulder, we proceeded on foot. By far the better decision as it turned out; the rocks would have been un-navigable on wheels, even for the most seasoned professional.

To say I was surprised when I saw the rock pools would be an understatement. It was like finding an oasis in a desert. One minute you are walking along rugged mountainside, and the next you are standing opposite a 3 meter wide waterfall, a large pool of fresh mountain water at its base. It is surrounded by sloping rocks and vegetation, both of which you can use to get in and out of the clear, deep water. It is brackish, and cold, but so invigorating to jump off the top of the waterfall into the pool below. As we arrived on a Thursday morning, we had the place almost entirely to ourselves for a day, and it was magical.

Climbing up to Jump off the falls.

Climbing up to Jump off the falls.

water

The pristine pools

mom-lola-swimming

Fresh dips

rock-lying

Resting on rocks

On the Friday, we decided to walk up the Leopard trail in search of the Totempools. It is a lovely walk, winding you up the mountain alongside the river. About half an hour up we stopped at the ‘bum slides’, so named because the long stretch of flat rock is perfect for sliding down, when there is enough water in the river that is. Given that South Africa has been rather racked by global warming of late, we found little joy in sliding down the rocks on our bottoms, particularly with a son like Lincoln who managed to almost concuss himself, crack open his head and lose a limb in a matter of minutes. We opted instead to continue our climb in search of the elusive pools.

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Lincoln on his way down to getting wedged under the rock!

kids-sliding

Lincoln just before he fell over and landed on his head!

And elusive they definitely were. Climb as we might, we are not sure if we were met with success. After taking the wrong path a couple of times, sending Shaun up the mountain ahead of us to try and figure out which was the right route, and eventually succumbing to the heat, we stopped at what we thought was a pretty good ‘potential’ Totempool. We are still not sure if that was the Totempool or not. It was incredibly beautiful however, and a prefect place to spend a few hours lounging on the rocks and frolicking in the fresh mountain pools. The solitude we were spoilt with made our first two days at Beaverlac idyllic.

 

Arriving back at the campsite after our walk on Friday evening, we were greeted with a swarm of weekend arrivals. Being a dog-friendly spot meant that there were more than a few exuberant canines leaping about. For the most part under control, but there were a few angling for a tent to mark as there own. It was by no means ridiculously busy, but after being spoilt by having the pools to ourselves for the first few days meant we were happy to hit the road the next morning. Leaving was not easy however, the dance of the water over the tumbling Cederberg mountains and the therapeutic crashing sound it makes as it plummets into the pools of fresh mountain water left us hankering for more. It is a place I would visit again and again – solitude being a prerequisite of course.

Go with the intention of leaving noise, social media and a constant stream of interruptions behind, and you wont be disappointed. I guarantee it.

Our camping spot

Bottoms up!

The Wuth Hiking Initiative – Teaching Children to Climb in All Weather Conditions

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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.

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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.

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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.