Note: Owing to The Plumbing Situation From Hell, Alison did not do Hike #4: Woody Buttress and Woody Ravine. Ginny or Mark will have to tell you about it.
This hike was Ginny’s selection and it was a rather fine idea. Because, while I have, like every single other Capetonian, walked to Elephant’s Eye, and have, less typically, spent several very early mornings wheezing my way up Constantiaberg on a mountain bike (how was I ever fit enough to cycle that 11km uphill?) I’ve never actually walked past Elephant’s Eye and on up to The Mast that dominates the landscape for miles around Silvermine.
It’s a jolly good walk, and it’s impossible not to feel rather smug once you’re at the top, with Cape Town’s third-highest peak all to yourselves. The wind thrummed through The Mast’s wire supports like a giant harp, the clouds rolled in over Chapman’s Peak Drive like the Eiderdown of Doom, and I hopped about on the lunar rocks like an oversized grasshopper, pumped on Mark’s maté.
Elephant’s Eye and Constantiaberg Hike details
Elevation gain: 474m
Starting elevation: 453m
Max elevation: 927m
Once again I messed up the mapping. First, Map My Run went apeshit when we went inside Elephant’s Eye Cave and it couldn’t find us:
And then, thanks to the GPS panic-attack and too many photographs, my phone died at the top of Constantiaberg, so I could only ‘finish the workout’ when I was already home:
This mapping business is a pain, I tell you. Luckily, one of our guest hikists, Rodrigue, managed to make a non-bananas map:
10 tips if you want to hike up Constantiaberg
- Park inside Silvermine at the end of the road near the dam (Coming up from Cape Town, it’s the first turning to your right once you’re at the top of Ou Kaapse Weg). Remember to either take your Wild Card, My Green Card, or R45 each for the entrance fee.
- If you want the cave all to yourself, don’t do this hike on a weekend. Elephant’s Eye is a super popular hike because it’s well-known, easy and has a spectacular view, so the cave is frequently full of noisy and excited strollists. (Strollists are never to be confused with hikists, even though they might look the same.)
- Pause your mapping app before you go inside the cave, so that the software doesn’t lose its marbles when it loses the GPS signal.
- No matter when you walk up Constantiaberg peak, you’re unlikely to see anyone else up there. (Before the big fire in March 2015, which closed the Tokai Forest mountain biking tracks probably until the end of this year, you might have bumped into the odd insane mountain biker puffing up or whizzing down the tar road to The Mast.)
- Constantiaberg is 927m high, making it the third-highest peak (after Maclear’s Beacon and Devil’s Peak) in the Table Mountain range. It’s not known who first ascended the peak, but since there’s already lots of stuff up there, we clearly can’t claim it was us.
- The Mast is a VHF transmitter, apparently put up in the 1960s, for TV and radio signals. The thing that looks like a baby planetarium is (I gather) a radar station.
- Take a swimming costume so that you can swim in Silvermine Dam afterwards. (And so that you don’t have to be like us and swim in your hiking shorts and underwear. But you can do that too, if you prefer.)
- Take two picnics. Carry one up to the top of the mountain and enjoy it there, and leave the other (which should definitely include some cold beers) in a cooler box in your car. Retrieve it on your return, then park off for the rest of the day next to the dam, which is awesome.
- If you don’t pack picnic no.2, Noordhoek Farm Village is a five-minute drive away and has plenty of yummy food options.
- Wear proper walking shoes and take sunblock, a hat, a jersey and plenty of water. (Hah! And you thought I wasn’t going to say it again.)
Photographs from Elephant’s Eye and Constantiaberg
Alison and her friends are on a mission to do a hike a week in 2016. Read Alison’s other travel writing at alisonwestwood.com