A stunning, yet very challenging, coastal hiking trail
This spectacular hiking trail is sometimes called the mini otter trail. It follows the Atlantic coast from Hout Bay to Llandudno. We parked our cars at the Mariners Wharf Restaurant and walked about 2km to the start of the trail where we posed for a group photo. The route involves some scrambling so is not for the faint hearted. It is also important to know that the route is exposed in many areas. Rock scrambling and boulder hopping is par for the course. According to the hikers in the know, every year this route has claimed lives, so people should not attempt this route on their own.
An average time for this hike is a good 5 hours but based on the fact that we were 32 members it is expected we would take an extra hour or two. With very little in the way of shade or fresh water, a person needs to carry at least 3L of water and have a good hat and sunblock. This hike is best done at low tide as much of the trail is under water at high tide.
Initially we had to pick our way along a rocky beach and through the dunes on sometimes undistinguished paths. About 45 minutes into the hike, we came to some large rocks that look out onto Seal Island. Here we had our first break to admire the view. On our right was a view of our first peak that we pass, the Sentinel (331m). This is also the spot where the tourist boats from Hout Bay float around between the rocks to get a closer look at the seals. This area is known as Duiker Point which is in front of Dungeons, a world famous spot for surfers who wish to catch the biggest wave in Africa.
Leaving Duiker Point, we headed off again to scramble the rocky beaches below the cliffs of Kapteinspiek and Karbonkelberg. The path at times lead away from the beach and we found ourselves scrambling up the slopes on small paths, sometimes on our hands and knees as we navigated our way through narrow channels through the bushes. Although the cliffs here were less sheer, the path was quite loose and crumbly. This is the area where anyone with a fear of heights may suffer a bit.
After another break we endured about an hour of a very tough leg and entered an area known as Leeugat by the first shipwreck, the Bos 400. There are numerous shipwrecks along this stretch of coast. One of the most visible being the Bos 400. This floating crane was wrecked in 1994 when the rope to a tug boat that was towing it snapped during a storm. All 18 of the crew survived by being airlifted safely to shore. This wreck is well above the water and close to the shore. The rocks above offered a good spot for us to enjoy another well deserved break.
From here the path lead us through quite thick vegetation. At times we again needed to crawl on our hands and knees through the sandy soil. It then lead steeply up to a small stone house called the Rocket Station (built after the sinking of the Maori, another wreck, in 1909). Here the ground was also loose and it was also hot and, for some, a frustrating climb. Once we arrived at the top we had a good, clear view of a wind swept and deserted Sandy Bay beach, Little Lions Head, Llandudno in the foreground and Lions Head in the distant background. We opted not to go for a swim and followed the jeep track a few kilometers to the end of the trail.
In terms of difficulty I would rate this hike as one of the toughest. It’s a long walk and only the fit and experienced hikers should attempt this. Many parts need rock scrambling, you get cut up by the bushes and if you have a fear for heights, then I will also recommend giving this one a miss.
Do not attempt this one on your own.