Tag Archives: Cape Town

Hiking Cape Town: Table Mountain’s India Venster

1-signCape Town, South Africa is a great place for hiking because several classic peaks–such as Lions Head and Table Mountain–sit in close proximity to the city, so it’s possible to access them easily for quick day hikes. And the trails up these peaks also provide stunning views of the city and sea. I recently spent two weeks in Cape Town visiting family, and I got the chance to get out with Antony to hike the India Venster route up Table Mountain, which is one of the few trails he hadn’t taken to the summit.

For my first hike the summit of Table Mountain, India Venster provided some adventurous moments and challenges, for sure. The sign at the trailhead warns that ladders, chains, and stapels are a part of the route, and we also knew that the route requires some exposed scrambling with the potential for serious fall danger.

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The route begins in a straightforward manner from the contour trail, but then it eventually winds up through a steep rocky section below the top of the cable car.

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The rock scrambling began in this section, which required hand-and-foot climbing on mostly low-angle rock. Depending on experience and comfort level, some hikers might want to have a rope to help them through this section…or even a guide.

Traci J Macnamara India Venster 1

While the scrambling in some sections wasn’t very exposed…

Traci J Macnamara on India Venster

…other sections involved exposure and sharp drop-offs, and also jaw-dropping views of the city and sea.

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The word “venster” means “window” in Afrikaans, and the route gets its name from a rock window along the route. We’re not sure if this window is THE window for which the route is named, but it offered a pretty cool portal for seeing the side of Table Mountain.

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The view of Cape Town from the top of Table Mountain was certainly worth the effort involved! The India Venster route, especially, and most other routes to the summit of Table Mountain should only be hiked in good weather, and hikers should carry emergency gear, as the weather rolls in quickly up here. We only had a short time to make this hike happen, so we opted to take the cable car down, but Platteklip Gorge offers a safer descent than the India Venster downclimb.

Want to know more about hiking in Cape Town?
Check out this Learnist board I created to profile six classic Cape Town hikes, including India Venster:

“Cape Town’s Classic Day Hikes”

Cape Town Day Hikes

And…if you want to explore more of my Learnist boards focused on adventure, outdoors, nature, and sports, click here.

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Emergency Fishing and the Southern Seas

big blueI recently went out on a morning boat ride with my brother-in-law Ray and nephew James from the yacht club where they’re members in Simon’s Town, near Cape Town, South Africa. We just wanted to go out, cruise around, and then enjoy some fish and chips. Even though the weather looked clear when we set out, we chose to travel in tandem with another boat of friends, something that Ray says he always does to ensure safety. I also noticed that we had some survival fishing gear on the boat.

First of all, we carried a very basic saltwater line and lure setup, above right, which can be attached easily to the side of the boat and simply chucked in the water until fish get excited about the red lure and decide to bite.

We also carried two fishing rods, this one equipped with an attractive saltwater fishing lure:

saltwater lure

As a party of four, we departed the harbor:

simons town harbor

And when we returned, we saw that it was the perfect day for hanging out in Simon’s Town, which is where the very tiny South African Navy also harbors its two or three (non-functioning?) ships:

simons town

Despite enjoying our nice, prepared fish and chips lunch after our cruise, I couldn’t help but envy those in this fishing boat, who got the chance to reel in their own fresh catch:

fishing boat

An emergency fishing kit like the one we had on our boat isn’t quite practical for hiking or backcountry camping, so I wrote an article on the About.com Survival Skills website about how you can make your own smaller, lighter version. Check it out here:

“Make an Emergency Survival Fishing Kit”

Seaside Camping: Some Beaches are Better than Others

If you’re out there in the middle of nowhere, walking along a beach (sounds nice!), and you need to camp out unexpectedly in an emergency situation (not-so-nice!), you need to know how to choose a seaside campsite and build a basic beach shelter. All of the beaches pictured here are stunning, beautiful places…but some would be better than others for an emergency campsite.

Too rocky and crazy (but crazy beautiful!):

rocky shore

Nice choice, but camp far enough away from the shore to avoid high tide:

nice beach

Pretty rocky, but the grass looks soft, and it would make good shelter insulation:

rocky shore 2

Also a nice beach for camping…

beach camping

I took these photographs on a recent trip to Cape Town, South Africa. If you’d like to know more about survival camping and beach shelters, see my article on the About.com Survival Skills website:

“Seaside Camping: Basic Shelter and Site Selection”
Perhaps you’ve only planned for a casual seaside day hike, but someone in your party has become injured or sick. Or maybe you’re out alone on a remote beach hike, and you’ve become lost. When you’re unable to call for assistance or get home before dark, seaside survival skills and your ability to improvise can help you endure a potentially frightening or dangerous experience…click here to continue reading

Photos © Traci J. Macnamara.

Baboon Encounters in Kruger and Cape Town, South Africa

I’m currently on a three-week trip in South Africa and have been learning a lot about the local flora and fauna, including some animals that could kill a human in an instant (lions…leopards) and about others that are just plain fascinating or oddly cute (ostrich and warthogs).

While in Kruger National Park, we encountered two troops of baboons, and now in Cape Town, I’ve heard plenty of baboon stories and seen baboon warning signs at all of the local trailheads. I wanted to share a few photos from our Kruger baboon encounters and also share a link to the article I wrote about surviving baboon encounters on the About.com Survival Skills site (more info below).

First…photos:

baboon kruger 1

We encountered the above baboon troop while crossing a bridge in Kruger National Park on our drive from Berg-en-Dal to Lataba rest camp. There were a few big males leading the way across the bridge, and the whole show caused a brief traffic jam.

baboon kruger 2

The troop contained many large baboons…

baboon kruger 3

…and a few youngsters.

baboon kruger 4

We again saw our first signs of baboons further north when one scurried across the road in front of us. When we looked around, we started seeing them everywhere.

baboon kruger 5

In trees……and in the bush beside us.

baboon kruger 6

Of course, as it is when trying to view wild animals, we got a lot of butt shots as they tried to walk away.

Want to know more about hiking and baboon safety?
Read my article on the About.com Survival Skills website:
“How to Survive a Baboon Encounter”