Hike #33: The Smuts Track

Sometimes, when you run out of imagination, you realize that there’s not necessarily anything wrong with doing a hike you’ve already done before. Or in General Jan Smuts’s case, a hike you’ve done 286 times before. And anyway, a blog about hiking in Cape Town wouldn’t exactly be complete without including one of the most popular hikes on Table Mountain. So, one Sunday, instead of poring over maps and trying to decipher more of Tony Lourens’s cryptic directions, we simply sauntered up Skellies and strolled along the Smuts Track.

Smuts Track Hike details

Distance: 9ish kilometres

Duration: 3 hours of walking, 4 hours with the usual stops for climbing rocks and drinking tea and eating sandwiches

Difficulty: Easy like Sunday morning. Except if you’re unfit and don’t like scrambling and ladders and heights and things. Other websites appear to think it’s difficult and strenuous. Maybe listen to them. They’re probably being responsible.

Directions: Walk up Skeleton Gorge, turn right before you reach the beach, and follow the stone periscopes to Maclear’s Beacon. From there, follow the paths along the front face of the mountain to the upper cable car station.

Parking: This is a one way hike, so you’ll either need to leave one car at the Cable Station then drive another one to Kirstenbosch and fetch it later. Or, if you live in the city, you could get all cunning like we did, and drive one car to Kirstenbosch, leave it there, then catch three MyCiti buses home from the Cable Car and drive another car to Kirstenbosch to pick the first one up. If you have to wait too long for the buses, you could also just catch an Uber home, like we did when we couldn’t face waiting another 30 minutes for the third bus. Did that all make sense? Yes, I thought so.

Post-hike eating place: The Restaurant at the Top of Table Mountain, for cold draft beer in compostable plastic cups and leftover sandwiches made by Martin. (This must be one of the only restaurants in the world where they don’t seem to mind if you bring your own sandwiches.)

Remember: All the cards. You’ll need your Kirstenbosch Card or credit card to start the hike, and your Wild Card, My Green Card and credit card to finish the hike (unless you’re too lazy or posh for Platteklip Gorge, like we are).


Highlights of this hike

  • Wondering how exactly Jan Smuts was supposed to have found time to do this hike every day what with all the other things he had going on in his life, and also wondering if he could have maybe done with a copy of Tony Lourens’s Table Mountain Classics to help him branch out a bit.
  • Spotting the MCSA’s WWI memorial plaque for the first time, despite having been up to the beacon several times before and it having been there since 1922.
  • Sunshine, views, and not too many people, despite this apparently being one of the Table Mountain’s most popular hikes.
  • A nice rock for Martin to climb.

Photographs of the Smuts Track hike


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