HIKING – The Sphinx Route (Grabouw, SA)

Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve, Grabouw

While we are preparing for our next adventure commencing soon, we would love to take you to more of the beautiful places in and around Cape Town … trips we’ve enjoyed in the past.

It would probably come as no surprise to our regular readers that we are telling you about yet another hike! This time (May 2015), we were on the overnight Sphinx Route in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve close to Grabouw (70km from Cape Town).

A map of our overnight hike in the Hottentots Holland Mountains

We left our car at the parking area at the main gate and started our hike at Nuweberg. The trail winds up and down along a rugged and mountainous terrain and ends at Shamrock Hut where we have spent the night – a total of 12km (7.4 miles). The next morning, we enjoyed walking down the mountain with a jeep track to end our hiking trip back at Nuweberg – about 10km (6.2 miles).

The trail starts at a plantation section before moving into the mountains
Within the first kilometer, we had to hike up a steep hill

There was a forecast of rain and the presence of heavy clouds made it evident that we would experience rain somewhere on the trail.  

Once we reached the top of the hill, we had a nice view
We are going to Shamrock Hut
The rain was moving towards the mountains …
The trail is easy to follow and is rated as moderate
Pretty flowers along the trail

About an hour and a half into the trail, the wind suddenly picked up and we could literally see the rain down in the valley moving towards the mountain. It was time to quickly make a cup of coffee before we get wet.

A magnificent view while enjoying our coffee

We were quite surprised to see the mountains so green, because it was only the start of winter.

The Hottentots Holland Mountains

Just after our coffee break, the rain arrived and we had to quickly get our rain jackets out. It rained hard for a while and then just a light drizzle until we’ve reached our hut.

We could see our hut already from far away, but when we came around a corner (and thought we’re almost there), the trail took us deep into the valley and back up the mountain … it was only about 40 minutes later when we finally got to our hut.

Our hut in the distance – but still another 40 minutes’ walk to get there
Now we’re getting closer

There was a sleeping hut and a short pathway took us to a sheltered area where we could sit and eat (and have a ‘braai’ later that evening).

The eating and ‘braai’ area
The view from the front porch of our hut
This is a beautiful ‘task’ – one that I can do very easily!

Our lunch was quite simple (and very cold) for this chilly afternoon. We enjoyed mini sausages, cherry tomatoes and cheeses … fortunately, we had hot coffee and tea to drink with these!

For the rest of the afternoon, we explored our surroundings. But it became so cold and wet that we decided to go back to the hut. Berto decided this was the perfect time to try and explain declination to me … something about geographic north and true north … I decided it was better to rather enjoy a glass of red wine 😁 … hmm, maybe I wasn’t a good student!

With no electricity available at the hut, we packed a fire early (for light, heat and to prepare our dinner). We had a big piece of steak on the fire and enjoyed this with a green salad we made at home.

Enough wood for a ‘braai’ and for our fire place inside the hut

In our hut, there were a couple of bunk beds with mattresses, as well as a fire place in the middle. It was bitterly cold and raining when we went to bed … but Berto had a plan in order for us to stay warm! He made a big fire and we placed our mattresses close to the fire place … we then snuggled into our sleeping bags and it was quite cozy!

Day 2:

The next morning, we were happy to saw the rain clouds were gone. There was a thick cloud of mist over the mountains and down in the valley, but we were excited that our hike down the mountain would be in sunny weather.

We only had to cover about 10km (6.2 miles) back to our car and it was most of the time on a jeep track … an easy walk. But first, we had some breakfast before getting back on the route. Berto fried bacon in our camping pot before adding a couple of eggs … perfect to take us all the way!

Berto preparing breakfast
Scrambled eggs and bacon in one pot

At around 9:00, we took a few last photo’s of the beautiful scenery before packing our backpacks and hiking down the mountain.

The valley was still shrouded in mist
The valley however, was still under a thick cloud of mist

On this side of the mountain, is a zipline adventure. It starts high up in the mountains and then works its way down on 11 cables of over 100m. We saw some of the adrenaline junkies enjoying this activity (we actually heard them before we saw them) 😄.

Zipline adventure in the Hottentots Holland Mountains

It was such a beautiful walk down the mountains. The mist completely disappeared and the sun was actually quite hot – perfect day to be out in nature!

Our path winding down the mountain

I was complaining to Berto yesterday evening that I have not seen my favourite flower – the protea. And then, on our way down today, I was fortunate to see this beautiful flower … love this beauty!

The beautiful protea
Enjoying the way down

The last few kilometers were on a gravel road and took us all the way to the main gate and parking area.

There was still a bit of mist in the valley, but we enjoyed a sunny hike back to our car

This was another great hike in the mountains close to Cape Town and definitely a hike we would like to repeat (maybe this time with our friends).


45 thoughts on “HIKING – The Sphinx Route (Grabouw, SA)

    1. You’re absolutely right! That makes the backpack a little lighter, because we don’t have to hike with a tent! Although the huts are very basic, you don’t really need anything more … just a roof over your head (and a bed/mattress is always a bonus) 😉.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes Caroline, those open views are something you’ll see most of the times on hikes in South Africa. I think the reason why I love the protea flower so much, is because not one of them looks the same (there are so many different species) and I’m always looking forward to see what nature has on offer when we go for a hike in the mountains!

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  1. Such beautiful views and stunning natural scenery. Beautifully photographed too. Easy to see why you enjoyed it so much.
    Pity about that exotic plantation at the start though, I hope Cape Nature has plans to remove it eventually to allow the natural vegetation to return.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! This definitely rates as one of our top favourite hikes! Yes, we also hope that Cape Nature will assist with the natural vegetation (we said it back in 2015 when we’ve done this hike … maybe we should go and do this hike again to see whether anything’s been done).

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    1. Jy’s reg Aletta, dit is so mooi in die Hottentots Holland berge … en dit was ‘n absolute bonus dat dit nie te moeilik was nie (geen lere of kettings nie 😉). Og, daardie proteas – ek’s altyd so bly as ek van hulle kan sien op ons staptogte!


  2. Great to see another chunk of your home country’s fine landscapes. I wholeheartedly approve of your impromptu coffee sessions. “The rain is coming, quick coffee!!!!” The morning mist photos in the dim light are really magical.

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  3. Yet another lovely hike with a hut to overnight in. So pleased that the rain showers cleared for the second day and you were rewarded with clear skies. Berto’s fried bacon and eggs in the cooking pot looked to be a good start to the day as well. I’m always impressed by how well you cater for yourselves on these expeditions Corna. Hope your week has started well. Marion

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Marion, this was surely one of our favourite hikes! And absolutely great to walk to a hut (in stead of carrying a heavy backpack loaded with a tent, that’s for sure)! Yes, we do like to eat well hey … even on a hiking trip 😉. Thanks, we’re having a great week (of sunshine) and getting ready for our new adventure starting late next week …
      Hope you are doing well and that the weather is giving you a break every now and then with a little bit of sunshine!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow that mist over the mountains, it’s so beautiful. Also lovely to see you both looking so content on your hikes (ours are normally us both sweating, shouting at each other for being lost and getting some sort of injury along the way) haha!

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    1. Haha Hannah, I had a good laugh now about your hikes 😁. Yes, it’s not always ‘plain sailing’ on our hiking trips either … but I have such a laid back husband that there is seldom any conflict on these trips! And a glass of wine in the evening makes you remember only the good stuff!! Oh yes, I loved the views of the mist over the mountains in down in the valley … doesn’t it look like candy floss to you?

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  5. What a difference it makes when the sun shines. Being cold and wet, not so much fun, although in the right company you can make the best of it and have a good time anyway. I hope no one ever asks me to explain geographic North and true North!

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    1. I just know that in sunny weather, everything seems so much easier (especially hiking) … but you’re right, doesn’t matter the weather conditions, we always have fun! Every now and again Berto tries to explains ‘declination’ to me, but I’m afraid I still don’t understands it 😁.


  6. Here’s one of those strange coincidences that happen to me. I just read your post about North and True North when Grant popped up and I said “I must go and pick up my book that’s just come in”, so off we promptly went. Coming back I opened the book to look at the dedication page and what did it say “To Doug….True North”. I cannot remember the lat time the expression even came up…now twice within half an hour. These things happen to me all the time.

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