The word ‘slog’ is used for this particular hike as it can take up to 4.5 hours to complete the 3-hour circular route if you are not a fit young thing! It does feel, after the first 3 hours, that your feet can barely take another step and that the next ridge looks so far away, but in truth the going is easy, the path sandy and seldom needing a scramble, and the sense of total freedom from all cares that the wide open expanses of the plateau gives you makes the last few kilometres well worth the effort.
A short climb up well-laid stone steps takes you from the road at Olifantsbos to the plateau, where you may startle a few bontebok who love this haunt due to the river that runs into the sea nearby, and occasionally an eland or two on the grassier slopes. The fynbos is low yet thick,making it necessary to pick your way through the paths worn by countless hooves as they meander across the Reserve until the established paths are regained. It is quite easy to go off the beaten track but there is no chance of getting lost in this lovely landscape except by way of daydreaming.
Arriving at Sirkelsvlei, it was surprising to see it at the lowest level since I began these hikes in 2017. It was almost as though the plug had been pulled, and hopefully winter rains will replenish it soon. Coffee break on the rocks was a pleasant interlude as we basked in warm winter sunshine watching sunbirds and rock thrushes going about their day. A lone heron perched on a tree stump, its reflection a mirror image in the still water.
Not too many flowers are out as we approach the middle months of winter, but the restios sparkle with dew hanging from their bronze and gold adornment, and fresh growth on proteas promise lush blooms later in the year. The mimetes which favour the ridges here will be at their best in a few weeks. Spring is the time when more than one hike should be taken across the verdant landscape, allowing sightings of the many exquisite flowers that will carpet the area. For those whose interest lies more in the geology of the area, the weathered rocks allow the imagination to run wild, and many examples of the geological formations of the Peninsula are identifiable, in particular a long stretch of metamorphosed riverbed with piles of pebbles lying white in the sun. Always something for everyone to enjoy on this favourite trail.