We’d heard many good things about hiking in Mont Rochelle, so, early one Sunday morning, we hopped into Martin’s bakkie Stoffel (so named by Alison because 1. it’s always dusty and 2. it’s as tough as a honey badger). Then we drove out of Cape Town, through Franschhoek, and a short way up the Franschhoek Pass, where the signpost for the Mont Rochelle Nature Reserve led up a short dirt road to a parking lot. Then we sat in Stoffel for quite some time, looking first out of the windows, and then at each other.
The day had seemed so sunny when we set off. But here, at the start of the trail, everything was covered in a thick, cold cloud. The mountains loomed gloomily out of the grim, grey mist. Alison was at least wearing long pants and had a windbreaker, but Martin was in shorts and only had light long-sleeved vest to put over his T-shirt (classic case of hiking-optimism bias.) The temptation to go back to Franschhoek and find somewhere cosy to drink coffee and eat croissants was enormous.
But, somehow, we reluctantly left the safety of Stoffel and started pushing against the howling, freezing wind up the hill. Occasionally, a small break in the clouds would reveal something that looked like a view. Eventually, when we reached a small saddle, the clouds gave up trying to intimidate us, and parted at last, to reveal a magnificent reward for our perseverance.
Mont Rochelle DuToitskop Hike details
Distance: 9,5km (Although the website says 15. Maybe we missed a bit.)
Duration: 3 hours walking, 4 hours with scenic and sandwich stops
Difficulty: Easy Peasy
Directions: The big map on the signboard at the entrance of Mont Rochelle
Parking: At the entrance to the reserve
Post-hike eating place: Franschhoek Cellars for beer, then somewhere rather random and disappointing on the main road, because apparently the entire world had decided to come and eat in Franschhoek that day, and nowhere had any room for us.
Remember: To buy your permit online from web tickets before starting the hike. It costs R40 per person.
Highlights of this hike
- Setting off on what looked like a hike of doom, but emerging into beautiful sunshine and jaw dropping views of the Franschhoek Valley.
- Meeting only a couple of other people on the trail, who conveniently took our photo for us.
- Not a highlight: Being able to see just how empty the dams are 😦
Photographs of the Mont Rochelle DuToitskop hike