Monday, February 1, 2010

Hiking in Orange Kloof

Marijke emailed me and asked whether Vince 'or' I would like to join her on a walk in Lemoenkloof (Orange Kloof) behind Table Mountain, a quick consultation elected Me.

Orange Kloof is restricted to the public unless permits are acquired and an official guide involved, so a friend's permit for three people, awarded for research purposes was a boon to his hiking enthusiast friends.

Above - Marijke showing me our route on her map.

Below, from Constantia Neck, a short, stiff climb and scramble put us at Constantia Corner at Eagle's Nest, with a 180 degree view from False Bay to Hout Bay, with the spine of the peninsula inbetween. The vineyards of Constantia creep up the Constantiaberg to the right of the picture.

We branched from our trail to look out over our destination before we climbed higher and around for access to the top of Disa Gorge, which is the Kloof's beginning.

A new view for me. The wooded valley that is Orange Kloof.

More scrambling, holding onto rocks to pull ourselves up, and I found a flower new to me, Microdon dubius.

Below, Penaea mucronata, often with red instead of yellow flowers.

Tiny Thunbergiella filiformis. [2/2/10 - I see that it is called Itasina filifolia in Wild Flowers of Table Mountain National Park - so a reclassification occurred while some of us snoozed.]

There were many of these: the orchid-like Tritoniopsis parviflora. Much paler than the illustrations, which show it as acid yellow. I am missing my John Manning Fynbos book.

Our old friend Pseudoselago serrata, growing on a slope looking over Hout Bay. Now sold at nurseries.

Below, helichrysum, the pseudoselago and Protea cynaroides making a garden of the mountain.

This is where HDR (High Dynamic Range - the term that first sent me googling and finding Vince's website) would appeal to me. The sharp contrast between foreground and background make it impossible to expose the picture properly in one shot. But with three different pictures and three exposures one would have a composite yet better picture with none of this bright fuzzing in the background.

Watsonia tabularis, the faithful summer companion on the mountains.

The Karbonkelberg mid-picture with Little Lion's Head to its right.

Notorious blister bush - Peucedanum galbanum - whose flowers resemble fennel. I used to handle these leaves when I was little, thinking them celery-like. Later, as an adult, hiking with the ladies of the Botanical Society, I was admonished for touching it. It produces painful welts and blisters in many people - not sure if it would do so to me now. Not testing the theory.

Below: don't know. Diosma? Growing low down, about 12" or 3cm max, it was everywhere and very pretty.

More helichrysum - still not sure which one. Good smell.

And the most beautifully soft, lambs ear-like leaves of another helichrysum

This is its flower.

Tiny erica.

We had reached the area of big, beautifully weathered rocks and were heading for our breakfast stop at Camel Rock.

Bobartia indica.

The first sighting of the autumn painted lady, Gladiolus monticola. We saw another seven.

At last. I had stopped huffing and puffing and after a nice flat walk was very happy to open my flask of Illy and eat a raisin bun. Marijke had a cocktail of her friend's strong unsugared and my strong, sugared coffee, with rusks. I'll have to write a post about coffee and rusks [3/16/10 - read it here!]...

Camel Rock. It doesn't seem to be in the middle of a city of three million, does it?

After some more hiking along the footpath we landed up on the jeep track that was built to service the reservoirs on the mountain. Suddenly Sunday was in evidence: People on the Mountain. All well-equipped, with backpacks, boots, walking sticks hats, water. I hate hats, but was slathered with Factor 50.

Erica lutea grew in a ditch.

[* 01/10/12: I don't think this ID is correct.]

Agapanthus africanus in its natural habitat. Agapanthus overflows in banks and rivers of every shade of blue in summer gardens and in street medians in Cape Town.

Invasive blackberries made a very good, sweet snack.

Above the Woodhead Reservoir, which we were about to cross.

I had never seen the wall - very steep

And full of lichen.

At the end of the wall our path turned sharp left.

...and we walked down many small steep stone steps to the bottom of Disa Gorge.

More wall.

And they're off. Orange Kloof at last.

And a patrol!

Where are you going (no, Hello, how are you?)?
Who are you?

Papers were produced.

The friendlier lady ranger said they were also paramedics but avoided answering my question about how often they patrolled the area. After talking a bit about some disa buds farther down and the mountain pride butterflies she mentioned that she was fond of squirrels.


A fiddlehead beneath our feet.

We passed several colonies of carniverous sundews - Drosera trinervia, always in damp spots to the side of the path.

The kloof ahead.

Marijke said it is protected to rehabilitate it after farming and logging activities disturbed the old indigenous forest.

Our path stuck to the eastern side of the kloof.

A leucadendron which is endemic to the area, but I have forgotten which it is. It has minute silvery, identifying hairs on its red leaf tips.

Under a dead bush I spied the luscious white petals of the leafless parasite Harveya capensis. We saw ten more within a few metres.

The first Pelargonium I learned to identify was Pelargonium cucullatum, with its characteristically cupped leaves.

Pelargonium longifolium - usually seen in abundance in Silvermine, above Kalk Bay. It always seems to grow from a dry, sandy bank.

And Pelargonium myrrhifolium. Dozens, at intervals.

Tiny Pelargonium tabulare, I think.

Its leaf, with what I thought was dodder wrapped around it, but it is probably Cassytha ciliolata, or Devil's tresses, another parasite.

Marijke versus the girdled lizard, Cordylus niger.


Grasshopper on Pseudoselago serrata.

And the everlasting, Helichrysum vestitum.

Unknown, curly grass.

And many Lobelia coronopifolia growing on the sand track.

The best blue.

I don't know this grass, either, but it was gorgeous.

And Micranthus alopecuroides. Better blue?

My new friend, Aristea glauca, according to Tony Rebelo, courtesy of Lyn McCallum. First seen above Silvermine one week ago. These were in perfect condition, right on the sandy track.

This is the erica that confused me above Silvermine. It is Erica mammosa.

But so is this. Red.

Below the small De Villers dam high above us, water rushed from a rocky fall. We filled bottles and drank. It is the palest brown, perfectly clear, and the best water I know. I brought some home.

Five hours after starting we were back at Constantia Neck.

There is an overnight camp in Orange Kloof, part of the Hoerikwaggo Trail. We did not visit that part of the kloof.

You can book it as accommodation for a night in the Afromontane forest, without hiking the whole trail, and will be led on a walk in the evening and early morning if you like. More information here.


  1. Oh man, once again you really made that walk come alive. Wish I were there.

  2. Wow, Marie! Spectacular post! Thanks so much for taking us along.

  3. Fabulous, fabulous.

    We were taught about the dodder in my first-ever biology class at school, but I have never seen one. And now I haven't again.

    Still, there were many compensations in this post; thank you.

  4. Amazing. I kept wondering what the soil is like, while the trail looked like concrete. But then you were saying sand track, so er, whats the soil like?

    a flower lovers paradise

  5. Hi Ellen - wish you were here, too!

    Karen - thank you...:-)

    Rachel - yup, dodder. I'll try and find some for you.

    Frank - the paths were all very sandy, so reads like concrete in a photo, I think. The soil is acidic, but very, very sandy. Fynbos (collective noun for thousands of species)is adapted to it.

  6. Melanie, Halloween & coFebruary 1, 2010 at 1:35 PM


    and here I was feeling all chuffed because my snowdrops are up (and frozen, but up).

  7. RUSKS, RUSKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have not had them in more than 20 years!!!!!!!

  8. Am struggling to grow Agapanthus in Central Virgina - how wonderful to see it in it's native spot. Thanks.

  9. I used to love rusks as a kid... I, too, haven't had on in years. We used to love them with hot milk poured over...

  10. Wonderful post, Marie. I've never seen these parts of the mountain, of course, so this is a real treat. Your pix of the flowers are beautiful and at last I was able to identify some of the plants I've photographed recently.

  11. I think rusks make fantastic self-defense weapons. One can throw them at offenders or use them to inflict stab wounds or nasty scratches.


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