Technically, this hike should maybe not be one of the 52, because it kind of violates the ‘it has to be a hike that you can do in one day, leaving from and returning to Cape Town on the same day’ rule. But, it is a day hike, it’s only two and a half hours drive from Cape Town, and it definitely is awesome, so it complies with ‘awesome day hikes in and around Cape Town’, which is a much shorter rule anyway. And, also, did I mention that it’s awesome?
Right, now we’ve got that out of the way. So, the Gecko Trail takes you from Simonskloof Mountain Retreat in the Koo Valley all the way through the Nuy River Gorge to the Nuy Valley. The full trail is 46km and can be done a variety of ways from different starting points. It even forms part of the legendary Rim of Africa trail – a 650km mega hiking trail.
However, we just did a 17km section, poetically named ‘Route A’. Apart from a small hill at the beginning and a small hill at the end, it’s all downhill and flat. Which sounds easy, except… it’s not. The downhill is like a hiking version of base jumping. (Top tip: Bring hiking poles. Your knees will thank you.)
And then the flat involves 17 or so river crossings. Which also sounds like fun, until you realise you’re either going to have to develop the rock-jumping skills of an ibex (which would help for the downhill too) or you’re going to have to take your shoes off and put them on again 18 times in one day. If you get sick of that, you can, of course, wade through the water in your hiking shoes, the way half of us ended up doing. (And yes, I know, you could bring aqua shoes. But we didn’t. Don’t be such a smarty pants.)
So, why do this trail? Because it’s awesome, that’s why. (Didn’t I say that already? Twice?) And you’ll be the only people you see on it. The Nuy River Gorge is a total wilderness, full of fynbos and succulents and massive rocks and even more massive views, and completely empty of humans. It’s all yours. So go!
Duration: 6.5 hours
River crossings: About 17 thousand. So, if you have aqua shoes or sandals, bring them along for the second half of the hike.
Directions we used: Since Simonskloof is Martin’s family farm, he’s done this hike once or twice before, so we just followed him. However, when you book the trail, you’ll be given directions and a map.
Parking: This is a one-way trail, so you’ll need to leave at least one car at Nuy before driving through to Simonskloof.
Post hike eating place: Nuy Winery (aka Nuy on the Hill) for the best beer and burgers we’ve probably ever eaten. Oh, and some not too shabby views, too.
*Stats, as always, thanks to Martin, our official record-keeper.
Highlights of this hike
- Staying at Simonskloof in one of the rustic farm cottages with no electricity or internet, and views for miles. (The campsite is spectacular too, btw.)
- Gorging ourselves on Martin’s magnificent potjie the night before the hike.
- Having our mad friends from Montagu, Riki and Justin Lawson, join us for the hike. Hurrah!
- Looking down into the gorge from the top and realizing we were going all the way down there.
- Looking back up at the top of the valley and realizing we’d come from all the way up there.
- Arriving at the posh Nuy restaurant all sweaty and dirty and revolting and being greeted and seated like we were perfectly decent lunch guests.
- For Martin: arriving at the restaurant exactly on time for our lunch reservation. (VNB when you are Swiss.)
Photographs from the Gecko Trail
*All hiking photos taken by Justin Lawson, since Alison cleverly found a way to delete hers while being positive they were backed up.