Ready, steady, let’s traverse the trails at twilight
Exploring an abundance of nature on the edge of the city
This nature reserve is not five minutes away from the city, no, it’s on the very edge, so arguably, it’s a mere second away. As a born-and-bred Capetonian, Deer Park holds many memories for me; picnicking as a toddler, exploring as a teenager, are just some.
The nature is truly abundant, from scrubby fynbos and carpeting succulents to statuesque trees and leafy paths: a microcosm of the greater Table Mountain National Park.
I may have my own personal history with the park; but it pales in comparison to the rich heritage of runaway slaves, who found asylum (and hiding places) in the canopies of trees. There isn’t a lot on record about these forest dwellers; their survival in the mountains is stuff of lore. Another mystery is the shrine of Muslim spiritual leader Sayed Abdul Haq, not much is known about him, just that he was a member of the Qadariah Tariqa. We found his marble grave close to a running stream; and on the small path to get there, we noticed small strips of maroon cloth strung on bushes. There are at least five other graves in the area, but none as noticeable as this one.
Heritage and history aside, another thing that makes this green belt special is the view; the city on the one side, and Table Mountain rising like a craggy tidal wave on the other.
It’s a dog’s life
There are a variety of walks you can take, from easy meanders to the more challenging climbs. We decide on a moderate hike, so with feet shod in V-Lite Altitude Ultra Luxe WPi Hi-Tecs we set off.
The proximity to the city makes this a favourite for dog walkers; and a pleasure for dog spotters. On our walk we see a cornucopia of canine specimens: shuffling Scottish Terriers, gambolling mutts, and gormless bulldogs, to mention a few. We pass a man half-running to keep up with his pack of miss-matched hounds, over his shoulder he tells us he’s a dog-walker, and does this every day.
What to bring
- Hat, sunblock, water; there’s plenty of shade, but it’s good to come prepared.
- Hiking shoes; you can come in flip flops if you aren’t planning to wander too far, there are wooden paths to explore.
- Picnic; there are designated picnic spots (with inspiring city views), or you could find a tree to commandeer.
- Mountain bikes; there are some great trails.
- Swimming costumes; paddle in bathtub-sized mountain pools.
- There are bathroom facilities.
- Your best friend; as mentioned above this is hound heaven.
- Children of all ages.
Follow the path from the parking lot, start on the wooden walkways then head onto the mountain gravel. The path will naturally curve by the ‘dam’, it’s really more of a splash pool these days—or, to be frank, a doggie bath. Chill out here, and then continue on your way, you’ll now find yourself out of the sun and into a tunnel of trees. This leads to a beautiful mountain road with views of Devil’s Peak and Table Mountain, and soon you’ll find yourself at the beginning again.
Duration: 40 minutes.
Begin on the same route as the Circular one, but instead of following the curve, head straight up the incline to Tafelberg Road. Once there, if you’ve still got energy, head up Platteklip Gorge.
Duration: one hour, depending on fitness levels.
**not official trail names
Link up to these routes from Deer Park
We recommend this route for its outstanding views: Table Mountain, Lions Head, City Bowl, Table Bay, Robben Island, and Northern Suburbs, all laid out for your peepers. Read more about this hike.
At the end of the tarred section, walk a further 100 metres on the dirt road and you will see a metal gate with stone pillars. The hike up to the cave begins a few steps before this gate; it is a little bit hidden. The route zigzags its way slowly up the slope and will bring you to Woodstock Cave’s mouth. Read more about this hike.
Tip: You can stay over in heart of Deer Park at The Wash House, which is part of the original historical Wash House complex where Cape Town’s washer women plied their trade in the mid to late 19th century. This house is built on the slopes of Table Mountain and was carefully restored to blend seamlessly with its natural surroundings.
Another tip: One of Cape Town’s favourite pizza places is a stone’s throw away from the park. Treat yourself at Woodlands Eatery after your walk.
Text by Malu Lambert and photographs by Lindsay Callaghan
*Sponsored by Hi-Tec