Day hike at Vlakkenberg

We did this day hike in reverse direction to most descriptions which start from Constantia Nek. Instead we started from East Fort just before the toll plaza on Chapman’s Peak drive. We left one car at Constantia Nek as this is not a circular hike. We left from East Fort at about 8 in the morning on quite a cold day. The route lies behind the old ruins. Unfortunately the descriptions for all these ruins have been stolen. However they are the barracks and command post of the East Fort itself which lies below the road. Behind the ruins is the road going up. We followed this road up the side of mountain. You get great views of Hout Bay spread out below. You can also see the remains of the old jetty from which the manganese ore used to be shipped. There is no truth in the urban legend that the first load of ore went down the chute and straight through the bottom of the ship. However, the ore did get out of control when going down the chute, one of the reasons for the shortlived nature of the mines.

On the way up on the extreme left turns of the road you can visit the mines themselves. It is now quite overgrown and the best indicator of the location of the mines is in fact the rusting barbed wire on these left turns. On the first one, additionally, pine trees have fallen down across the path. The mines themselves are about 100m further out from the left of the path. Further up, if you walk to the left of the path you will see a single strand of barbed wire which marks shaft 4. Having missed the first mines we went to this one and crawled into it. The mines are supposed to be safe to crawl into but ultimately a hole in the ground always has risk.

After this we were shortly at the top where we found, to the left of the path, another mine, marked by an ore dump. There is nothing to show that there is hole in the ground here so proceed with caution, especially as there is a lot of vegetation growing out of the mine.

After this we proceeded along the path towards the “nek” which is clearly visible in the distance. On our right the Constantiaberg loomed over us and to our left Hout Bay gave an everchanging vista. Thick fields of protea’s and some very active sugarbirds can give a real feeling of being out in the wild, despite the presence of houses only a short distance away. The path heads into a kloof and then curves round again towards the nek. Once over the nek there is short path until we reached the tar road up to the Constantiaberg radio mast where we took a break to watch the mountin bikers shooting down the mountain. We reached this spot at about 11.00 after fairly lengthly stops at the manganese mines.

We headed down the road for about 100m and then turned left to head down in the Bokkemanskloof. The path down and up the other side is clearly visible. Usually the bottom of the valley where the river runs is very windy and it is not advisable to stop here. We stopped for a very early lunch on the way up the other side. After that break we proceeded up the slope and headed towards Constantia Nek, stopping to admire the outstanding view of Orange Kloof. This is one of the locations where one can truly appreciate the scale of Orange Kloof. The descent towards Constantia Nek is around the Silvermist Estate, which means a lot of walking down steps (which are not going to last much longer) and then between fences to the exit at Constania Nek. We reached the end at about 12:30.

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