Climbing the Kasteelberg

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I’ve lived in Riebeek Kasteel for 15 years and, aside from one abortive attempt (2 clueless adults + 3 unwilling children – any sense of direction whatsoever = 4 miserable hours of scrambling through fynbos on a steep mountainside without actually going anywhere), have never scaled the Kasteelberg. Until last month, when Ruan (who had one abortive attempt to his name, too: 2 clueless adults + completely wrong directions from the tourism office – any real enthusiasm on the part of 1 of the adults = 1 hour of walking on the wrong path before abandoning mission altogether) and I did it. And I’m sorry I didn’t do it sooner, and I’m going to do it regularly from now on.

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You approach the climb from the back of the mountain (relative to the village), and one of the first surprises is, about 20 minutes and a couple of fairly steep hills in, you look south across the wheat fields (here, above, appearing very dun and bleak before the rains) and, about 100km away in the distance, on the horizon, you see Table Mountain flanked by Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head.

We heard plenty of baboon noises, so we did quite a bit of loud chatting and crashing about to warn them that we were coming. Nearer the top, where there’s some scrambling on loose soil and stones, are very obvious signs of baboon activity – plenty of droppings, broken branches and half-eaten vegetation. Fortunately, our baboons aren’t at all habituated to people, so they do run away when they hear humans coming. (Even so, they’re the reason I wouldn’t do this walk on my own.)

The view from the top is just spectacular – over our lovely little village and up and down this amazingly vast valley to the mountains on the other side.

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Ruan and me – selfie at the top!

I did the walk again a week ago with my friend Biddi – it had rained a bit and the scrambling was easier, as the soil was damp and there wasn’t so much slipping, and it was awesome. (Anyone who’s coming out for a visit, please do bring your walking shoes, as this is a really lovely +-2,5-hour walk that I’m going to be taking every opportunity to repeat as often as possible!)

Jessie ‘pats’ the cat

Jessie (now almost 10 months old) luuuuurves all the household animals, and they in turn are amazingly patient with her. Their reactions to her range from a rather creepy love of physical abuse (in the case of Evan the cat) to the remarkably nimble get-the-fuck-out-her-way move that Balu the dog employs. This video is of Jessie ‘patting’ (ahem) Maui II.