Image Credits: Antoinette Muller / TheSouthAfrican.com
Anyone who lives in or visits Cape Town will be aware that it’s a city that lends itself to an outdoor lifestyle. I spent the vast majority of my life shunning this notion, until about 12 months ago.
I did the Couch25K programme and today I am one of those weirdoes who get up at fokkofoclock on a weekend morning to go climb a mountain.
Make no mistake: I have absolutely no athletic ability to talk of. My legs are short, my balance is shit and I still regularly fall over my own feet by simply standing. But since beginning this get healthy stuff I get out of breath walking up the mountain to get to my house.
Every fitness blogger or “expert” will inform you that the secret to sustainable lifestyle change is doing something that you like… it just sometimes requires a little bit of time to begin enjoying it.
I know, I can hear you grunting that nothing about literally with a pain in your arse due to exercise is enjoyable, but this is a love-hate relationship and the excursions do not always need to be excruciating.
Despite my genetic disposition significance my biggest ever sporting achievement is that time that I hit a six into the neighbour’s yard, I do take some enjoyment out of doing stuff that involves placing one foot before the other. Walking or around mountains is far more appealing, although I try to pretend to be runner.
The Pipe Track in Cape Town is something that has long been known to locals, but as a stuff, it’s a whole new world to me. It stretches from Kloof Nek (at the base of the mountain) to Camps Bay. It is not so flat that you forget you’re even going up a mountain, but it’s not so tough that you want to dos and cry when you get home and eat 10kg of potatoes.
So, if you’re looking for something fun and (moderately easy) to perform on morning, here is the good and the bad of hiking Cape Town’s Pipe Track.
The views. I mean, just look.
Also good: even though it’s a popular route, it’s not quite as popular as Lion’s Head or Platteklip. It means that while you’re bound to run into a few friendly faces along the way, you’re unlikely to need to try and shoulder your way past a group of tourists that are currently congregating on Platteklip taking selfies.
Did we mention the views? I mean seriously, look.
Also good: the varied terrain. Probably not all that good if you’re not too nimble on your feet (I fell flat on my arse twice while coming down). Tip: go steady.
Also good: near public transport. The MyCiti bus is a marvel. If you’re not using it, you’re missing out. The 107 bus stops right at its beginning point and if you come down through Camps Bay, there are a few MyCiti options in close proximity. This means that if you must use your car and park at Kloof Nek parking lot, you do not need to worry about the walk back to your car. Hop on a bus.
Also good: those seeking something more strenuous can access two climbs up to The Table from here —both Diagonal and Kasteelspoort begin on this track.
The terrain. You’re currently walking on a trail. The ground shifts from sandy and soft to rocky and annoying. The drawback is, if, like me, you’re even pretty useless at walking, you spend plenty of time looking at your feet and can forget to take in the views.
It feels a bit like cheating. Part of the reason I like clambering to the top of the mountain is because I feel like I have earned the 5kg of cheese I’m stuffing down my face. While you’ll definitely get a good workout if you spend anything more than an hour on the trial, it does not really get you huffing and puffing if you’re of moderate fitness if you’re only going for a short stroll.
However, if you’re looking to switch your regime, the Pipe Track makes for some fantastic trail running.
What: The Cape Town Pipe Track
Duration: Three hours return (at a very steady pace, and stopping for breaks to take in the views)
Difficulty: Simple to moderate, no scrambling
Distance: 6 km one way (to Corridor Ravine)
What the guide books say: The Pipe Track was built in 1887 to service the pipeline that brought water from the Disa River, on Table Mountain’s Back Table, through the mountain via the Woodhead tunnel, to Slangolie Ravine and eventually to the Molteno Reservoir in town. (via Nightjar Travel)