We park beside a giant sand dune at Sandy Bay and climb over it to the reach the trail. We don’t know much about this hike, other than the city of Cape Town pronounced it a “no go” spot due to thefts and muggings. But that was at least 2 years ago.
It is sunny. And after a week of rain, anything will get us out of the house. We’ve recently landed in the town of Hout Bay, and up first is a leg of the Llandudno to Hout Bay Harbour hike. Starting from Sandy Bay, we will make our way to Oude Skip, a shipwreck off of the coast.
There are two ways to hike this trail—you can walk along the contour path above the coast and then make your way down the trail to the shipwreck. Or you can start at the beach and trek along the coast towards it, ascending up to the contour path on your way back. We don’t know a lot about the hike. We know Sandy Bay is the nude beach of Cape Town. And we know that there is another shipwreck beyond Oude Skip that is difficult to get to in high tide. So, we decide we’ll take the contour path, make our way down to the shipwreck, and come back via Sandy Nek Beach. If we’re hot enough, we can take a swim, figuring, it doesn’t really matter that we forgot our bathing suits (*wink*).
Our first mistake is thinking the big shipwreck that we can see in the distance is the shipwreck we’re supposed to be hiking to. It turns out that it’s actually another shipwreck, the BOS 400. Which, if you were paying attention earlier, is much more difficult to get to.
Our second mistake—and this one really cost us—was taking the wrong trail at the end of the contour path. In our defense, the trail we took looked A LOT more like a trail than anything else around.
Following the wrong trail, we start winding our way through some woods. Then, the woods get so thick that most of our time is spent hunching over, pushing away trees, and stopping the bleeding that has started from our thighs, shins, and arms from being cut up by the brush.
We say so many times, “This can’t be the trail.” We say so many times, “Maybe we should turn around.” But, the shipwreck! We can still see it! And we’re not there yet.
At one point the trail dead-ends at a cliff. Do we turn around? No. We edge our way along the cliff. At another point the trail dead ends at a rock. Do we turn around? No. We climb over said rock. It’s not until we literally cannot find the trail anymore that we do finally turn around, and on the hike back (after getting lost trying to find the trail again about 5 times), we see the eroded trail that we should have been taking all along.
We never make it to our original destination or the BOS 400 shipwreck. We never make it to the nude beach. But we also don’t get mugged, so it’s a success. It’s beautiful enough that we’ll certainly try it again in the future, with a better understanding of where to go. Maybe we’ll even do the entire hike from Llandudno to Hout Bay, rather than just a leg.
My first advice is to check all possible trails before following the one that just happens to be right in front of you. Secondly, if you’ve said, “Wait, this just can’t be the trail” at least twice, you’re probably right. Turn around, dummy.