[This was written by Fran Siebrits and published online by Wild Magazine http://www.wildcard.co.za/, 2011]

When the Mother City decides she wants to reign her people with sunshine and a wind-free weekend, Capetonians take to the outdoors, lapping up one of the best tourist destinations in the world:

If the idea of a gentle morning hike with views of two oceans, a lunch of fish and chips with harbour ambience, a stroll down a quaint seaside suburb, some of the best gelato in the Cape, a refreshing swim and another unforgettable sunset are your idea of how to spend a Sunday, then if you are not living in Cape Town you better plan a visit … soon!

Above: The white paper flowers in their finest on the Muizenberg range

Last Sunday was one of those days; too good to waste! So I called a few spontaneous friends, gooied a few goodies into my backpack and caught the train to Muizenberg.

A salty breeze welcomesthe passengers who step from the train onto what must be one of the most beautifully positioned platforms. Not 20 metres from where you exit the train are False Bay’s waves, playing along the shoreline of the seemingly endless beach, while St James’ Peak stretches into the morning sky behind you. Yes, I am talking about Muizenberg, that laid-back suburb of Cape Town where time and stress are a non-entity.

The first slog

But we didn’t come here to admire the view from the shoreline, now did we? And so the day’s hike begins …

From the station, make your way up past the police station and onto Boyes Drive (the highest road flanking the mountain). Cross over the road at the pine trees and head up a steep section of stone steps. After a tough 3 minutes, the path meets another at an old ruin, forming a T-junction … go right. After a few hundred metres the path heads up Farmer Peck’s (or just Peck’s) Valley – a gentle climb on a well maintained path will bring you to the top. You will come out between Muizenberg Peak (to your right) and St James’ Peak (to your left). The uphill climb, and the only one of the day, should take you about 40 minutes to an hour, depending on how much you stop to admire the increasingly fantastic views of Muizenberg’s colourful corner and False Bay’s complimentary blue expanse.

Easy sailing, or walking if you prefer…

The path forks at the top – keep to the left. To the right, however, you will notice a mast and accompanying structure belonging to SANDF (South African National Defence Force). Beautiful views of Noordhoek Beach and the Atlantic Ocean can be seen on the other side of the peninsula while the path leads you around and over the koppies of St James’ Peak. The proteas and white paper flowers are still in bloom, standing out magnificently against the alluring blues on the horizon. In the bay you are guaranteed to see a wide variety of activity including surfing, sailing and fishing. Don’t forget to keep glancingup as there are many raptors roaming around these peaks.

Downhill to lunch

The path eventually meets a dirt track used for maintenance. At the road, turn left. You will come to a cement sign with two options for your descending route. Take the ‘Kalk Bay’ option. It should be no longer than 45 minutes before you reach another cement sign. This time take the route marked ‘Weary Willies’ – you can fill up your water bottle in the stream at Weary Willies. Cross the stream and turn left. Another 15 minutes and you will be in the hustle and bustle of life again so enjoy the last bit of tranquillity. Stone steps guide you onto Boyes Drive once again.

Cross over the road and make your way down into the quaint harbour suburb of Kalk Bay. Turn right on the Main Road, which runs parallel to the railway line and shoreline, and enter the harbour for a lunch of fish and chips (I highly recommend the good ol’ fish-and-chips-as-it-comes at Kalkys, but there are many restaurants and cafés to choose from to suit all types of wining-and-dining preferences). If fish is not on your agenda (alas!) then grab a gelato at the Ice Cream Parlour on the Main Road which the return route passes.

The 20 minute coastal stroll back can be cooled off with a dip in the sea. And those that had too much wine at lunch or at the Brass Bell en route back can just hop on the train … it’s safe and they run regularly. Otherwise, from the St James tidal pool to Muizenberg, take the path on the sea side of the railway line. Either way, your return journey is guaranteed to have the salty spray of False Bay once again.

Spice it up

If you feel like adding a bit more to your already exciting day then pack a torch and venture into the Muizenberg Cave for a bit of exploring. The cave is easily accessible but you will need a map to point it out as it’s just off the path.

Additional info

Time: 2 ½ – 3 hours

Difficulty: It is not a strenuous hike but can be tiring at a moderate pace. There is no exposure to heights.

Water: In the summer months water is only available near the end at Weary Willy’s so take some along as well. In winter, however, water is available at streams at regular intervals.

Location: This route is situated in the Silvermine/Muizenberg section of the Table Mountain National Park. No permit is required and entry is free. Please stick to the paths and hike responsibly.

Views: Of course!

Reference books and maps for the backpack

Mike Lundy’s Best Walks in the Cape Peninsula – 6th Edition; Mike Lundy

Silvermine and Hout Bay – The Map [1 in a series of 5 maps available of the Table Mountain National Park]; Peter Slingsby

Wild Flowers of the Table Mountain National Park; Terry Trinder-Smith, Mary Maytham Kidd and Fay Anderson
Sasol Birds of Southern Africa – 3rd Edition; Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton