This adventure of man and a woman began above the mountains above Muizenberg, St James, and Kalk Bay. Through clouds and magical forests to amphitheaters and caves that hid a fiery dragon behind her veil. Echo Valley Hike, inspired by adventure and not the romance, my university friend and I decided to explore a different side of the peninsula. A whole new world.
Although the scene in the top of these mountains was the sadist, the clouds, and wind made for a beautifully airy adventure where every corner was a new discovery. It naturally felt like we were in another world.
Parking your vehicle on the scenic Boyes Drive above Kalk Bay there are a number of hiking routes to take up yonder. We started our adventure from Ou Kraal trail and headed up the Old Mule Path to Spes Bona Forest.
Initially, the sun was out and our field of vision was clear. Look back and see beautiful panoramic views of False Bay and maybe catch the spray of a Southern Right Whale. I stopped to greet a local shark watcher and applauded him for his watchful eye on such a vast ocean below. However, the sunshine was short lived. There is a blanket of thick cold cloud that ascends on this mountain range and today was no exception.
This well-signposted mule path is a gentle meander through dense green vegetation. Spes Bona is an enchanted Forest of mossy trees and rock faces. The raised wooden walkway below your feet almost echoes through the dense canopy. Watch out for tree roots that snake their way from below. It is no wonder why the caves that riddle these mountain tops have been named after mythological Greek underworlds.
If you want to veer off the path, there are a number of scrambles you can do through cracks in the rock faces and sit just above the beautiful forest canopy. Keep a look out for the rare green and sticky Erica flower (urna-viridis) which can be seen at this time of year. Spes-Bona meaning “Good Hope” was a contrasting name for this labyrinth that seems to suck you in.
A short way farther and the Amphitheatre provided a good resting place and snack break. It was about this time when we were informed that there was a fire that had started a short distance away towards Silvermine East. We responsibly headed back to Kalk Bay.
The route back was dark, cool and gray. Up in the rock faces, I spotted Boomslang Cave and scrambled up to explore what was inside. The cave tunnel right through this part of the mountain and is perfect for novice cavers.
And so this ended relatively moderate hike of about 4 hours. Make sure you pack a warm top, as with Fynbos habitats things change all the time. One of the many reasons why I love this habitat so much. Such Diversity not only in the plant life but the terrain and weather. A feast for the adventurous soul.
I will never forget this day. This was the first of the many days of the 2015 Cape Fire that later consumed our hike into the ashes of an ancient abyss. Only meters from where the devastating heat began was a cold contrast of beauty.