8 Reasons Why Arangieskop Is The Best Overnight Hike In The Western Cape
It’s been called, “The Kilimanjaro of the Cape,” and likened to the Otter Trail for its splendour. But in fairness, the Arangieskop Trail stands alone as something completely unique and spectacular.
Arangieskop looms over Robertson, two hours from Cape Town, at an imposing height of 1,700 metres but feels twice as high as that. Every person I know who has done this hike is astounded by its grandeur and series of delightful surprises. So, what’s all the fuss about? Well, to start with…
1. It’s a challenge
This hike is not to be taken lightly. It may only be 9.5 km up on the first day but it’s a serious up. We stayed at the hut on the Friday night below Arangieskop allowing us to have a relatively early start and set off for the hut just on the other side of that foreboding peak, which you can see behind us in the photo above. As you can see by our gear and earnest faces, we meant business. Western Cape hiking guru, Mike Lundy, wrote, “The 9.5 km of the first day must be the longest 9.5 km in the Western Cape, but worth every grueling step of the way… Like all things difficult to achieve, this one has its exceptional rewards, not least of which are two of the finest overnight huts in the Western Cape.”
As we entered the gorges leading up to Arangieskop it became clear that this was going to be a struggle in the January heat. But that’s what we came for and it was this challenge that made it so satisfying to finally reach the top six hours later.
2. The overnight “hut”
This stone, rooftop gem of a mountain retreat is by no means a hut. It was built by the farmer who owns this land and was made available to the public because they felt they needed to share the magic of this beautiful setting. On a sign in the kitchen, they call it their “slice of heaven.” With hot water, an inside fireplace, flush toilets, solar-powered lights, a supply of firewood, 23 beds and that wonderful view, it’s easy to agree.
3. This lush patch of grass that defies expectations and all rules of nature
After the strenuous hike up, this patch of grass next to the hut was an oasis of comfort. It astounded our frazzled minds, like discovering a forgotten bag of speckled eggs in an old backpack. Soft, lush and unexpected, it made our arrival at the house even more jubilant.
4. The views (north)
I suppose that’s the thing about a steep hike – the views make it all worthwhile. We came out over the other side to look into the Koo Valley, which is famous for the quality of its apples, pears, apricots and peaches. We could see mountains sprawling away from us in every direction and it genuinely seemed like we were on the roof of the Cape.
5. The views (south)
A short walk back over the ridge provided similar views of Robertson below us and, further away, the small town of Mcgregor snuggled up against the Riviersonderend Mountains.
6. The isolation
You’re not going to run into any door-to-door salesmen up here. It seems like you’re above all the daily troubles and struggles. Just you, your mates, and the mountains.
7. The morning summit
After an early wake-up and a silent 40-minute walk up from the house you reach the summit and one of the best sunrises any of us had ever seen.
8. The Lord of the Rings-like descent on day two
And there you were thinking that all the tired cliches had already been rolled out in this post. Well, the descent on day two – full of dramatic cliffs, hidden valleys and secret forests – is worthy of the comparison to that fabled land of Bilbo and Frodo. It’s another long day and you’ll arrive back at the first hut and your car tired but thrilled with a well-spent weekend.
Every corner and crest demands one last glance.Fare thee well, Mr. Baggins.
If you go
Phone the Langeburg Municipality on 023-616-8027 to book the accommodation and permits. The cost of the first night’s accommodation below the mountain is R174 per person. The Arangieskop hut is R125 per person and there is a R53 cost per person to hike for both days. All of that together means a R352 cost per person for the weekend.