There is so much to say and do in Cape Town, Im struggling to fit it all in… one of the things that I love most about this gorgeous city is your access to the outside. We have a very big, very bouncy pup who needs a strenuous walk or usually a run every day. However, because he’s a high energy breed and still just over a year I often dont take him to the more popular walks and have spent time exploring less beaten paths, the result is a pretty much encyclopedic knowledge of the mountains around here… here are my recommendations of places to take your pooch.
If you’ve a friendly little pup who is well trained try these popular routes
The Alphen Trail – park near the Alphen hotel in constantia and you will see sign posts for the trail. There is a lovely 2k walk (4K there and back) on the flat that follows a river. Always busy you needn’t feel unsafe.. Lots of other dog walkers there. Very pretty but busy walk easily accessed.
For a bit more of an adventure, cross the road at the end of the trail and start to follow it up the mountain, the trail crosses various roads eventually ending up on Rhodes Drive where you can access the wonderful Cecilia Forest (see below)
Sillery Greenbelt – the green belt that runs through the southern suburbs actually starts near Peddlars in Constantia and runs all the way to Tokai. It has many incarnations as it crosses rivers and streams but the rough start and end of it is Sillery and near Lowers Tokai Forest (its also easily accessed from the back end of Tokai Forest). It is very busy and popular with walkers and cyclists as it runs through residential areas, I feel safe there and though it runs past houses it often feels wonderfully rural with gorgeous mountain views.
Lower Tokai Forest – is this THE most popular dog walking venue?… it certainly feels like it on some weekend days. A 4K circular route that skirts under wonderfully shady pines in the summer heat and some open Fynbos land. If you are walking with kids there’s little jungle gym one side and a few rope swings the other and at one point a great ‘beach’ in which kids can paddle and dogs can splash. . After years of walking the dog round the circular route this summer i discovered the joys of criss crossing the inner circuit of the loop, myriad streams to follow, fynbos to photograph and certainly more solitude. Be careful though, whilst Tokai is always busy and Ive always felt safe, there have been serious attacks in the past.
Less busy paths for runners or the more adventurous.
If you really want to explore the mountains go to Cape Union Mart and buy a Slingsby map which will show you every trail and route that there is. Ive spent so many amazing mornings following the trails without another human in sight, but Im always a little scared both of muggings which do happen and of falling and being far from any help. I’d always advise that you run with someone else and take some protection.
Cecilia Forest – drive along the upper part of Rhodes Drive and you’ll find a little car park which denotes the official start of the Cecilia reserve, although you can access it for various points. There are lots of jeep paths and you can choose a number of routes anything from a 2.5k stroll, to an 8k run which takes you up some pretty steep hills, or even hike up to the very top f the mountain. If you travel far enough up Cecilia you will reach the contour path which takes you all the way to Kirstenbosch and Newlands in one direction and Constantia Nek in the other. What you will get is stunning views, deeply fragrant pine forests, wide jeep tracks, less people around and the opportunity to tailor your walk from a short easy stroll to a strenuous hike up Table Mountain.
Newlands Forest -pull into the parking lot from the M3 just past the Newlands cross roads. For years I couldn’t get the grasp of Newlands, the jeep tracks seemed to lead no where and if I took a trail or steps I seemed to end up in some thick underbrush without a path in site. Even now I still joke to myself that a run in Newlands isn’t complete without getting lost at some point.. which feels surprising because its so close to town that it seems bizarre that you can get so lost so close to civilization. I’ve now figured out that if you go right once you enter the reserve you will hit a jeep track which takes you up a steep hill to a bench, personally Im always a little scared to cross the bridge and go beyond the bench as Ive heard it’s unsafe, so I take a left and other go all the way back down for a short walk or turn left again and follow the jeep track in big circle eventually ending back at the fire station. The other option is to pass the fire station turn left up the paved road, keep going when it turns to dirt and just keep taking rights, it will eventually lead you on a walk all the way up the mountain where you should be able to join the contour path. There are various smaller paths and steps, but I honestly dont know how to begin to describe them and they usually end up with me slighthy panicked scrabbling through a river bed somewhere. Newlands is predominantly pine forest so its a great place to walk in the summer as it’s shaded and cool, there are lots of walkers there and a map at the entrance to help you where these instructions probably have not. Lots of dog walkers here too.
Silvermine Reserve – I already blogged about Silvermine East but the main Silvermine reserve is equally as beautiful, more heavily trafficked and therefore you would hope a little safer. You need a dog walking permit (as you do for most of these walks) but at Silvermine they will check yours and if you dont have it then you will need to pay. Cape Town residents can buy a yearly pass from the Sanparks office in Tokai for 300 rand or so. Silvermine reserve centre around the beautiful dam which is favorite for picnics and braais, However, dogs aren’t allowed around the dam so bypass that and chose another route. Starting at the entrance booth and turning immediately left you can talk the River Walk, an hours round trip following the river up to the dam, its Silvermine at its best. Fancy something a little more strenuous and you can go either left or right out of the main carpark near the damn to take the 6k walk which takes you up over Noordhoek Peak and affords you views from over the Constantia Valley, to Hout bay, to Noordhoek… it’s almost unparalleled in the majesty of its views. Having said that 6K might not sound much but it is pretty tough and uphill, so will take a fair while, take water.