Hout Bay and beyond … the Oude Skip hike
I will let you in on a secret. At the top of Eustegia Way (or ‘Sandton-on-the-hill’ for obvious reasons) in Hout Bay is a little parking lot from which you can access a wide section of sand dune on which youngsters spend a large part of every weekend riding the sand waves. It’s also a way to reach Sandy Bay, although the path in from Llandudno is by all accounts easier, or join part of the larger Karbonkelberg Traverse – one of the six best Cape Town trails, according to Getaway magazine …
I had never seen the strip of coastline between Llandudno and Hout Bay. From the top of the hill, looking down over Sandy Bay, this part of the coastline is exceptionally beautiful. For miles there is no apparent development (this changes as one heads out on the contour path towards Hout Bay and Llandudno makes its presence known) but in the brief moment that we crested the rise and stood looking out over the bay, my breath was taken away.
It was a perfect day. The sky was a brilliant blue, and the waters below us were clear and calm, disturbed only by the restless surfacing of whales and their calves. There were no fewer than five whales in the Bay in and around Sandy Bay, some of them fairly close to shore – an awesome experience for me as I feel an incredible affinity with these giant beasts of the ocean.
Each of us was heard to mumble gratefully that if it weren’t for the fact that this portion of coastline forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, man would no doubt have ruined it for us with development, for what an incredible view and outlook! There is a wildness and nakedness seldom apparent in Cape Town any longer. The board in front of us instructed that we had reached Sandy Bay Nek with Sandy Bay down to the right (no, we couldn’t see from up here just who had clothes on or off), whilst Rocket Road took one along the contour path. Residents of Hout Bay are familiar with this contour path and we were passed en route by joggers, dog walkers and hikers.
A sand dune lay right in our path as we started out and someone described how sand blows in eddies from Sandy Bay back down to Hout Bay along the way we had come, moving sand into ever changing dunes in much the same way as it would if this were a desert. There is a particularly unusual view of Sentinel Peak from here as you look back towards Chapman’s Peak, and I kept stopping to watch the whales and drink in the views, which in hindsight I probably should not have done as we got caught in the heat of the day on the vertical climb back from the shipwreck.
The Oude Skip Hike (or Oude Schip), named after the shipwreck and also known as the Sandy Bay shipwreck hiking trail, shares portions of its hike with the larger Karbonkelberg Traverse, which is roughly seven hours of hard walk from Hout Bay harbour to Llandudno around the coast. We didn’t walk along the coast but up on the contour path above the coast. It is part of a longer walk from Llandudno to the wrecks, but we found joining at Sandy Bay more than long enough, as we were with young children.
At a given point along the path look out for the cairn (it’s fairly large, so you won’t miss it) that marks the start of the descent to the shipwrecks. There are two of them – a rust bucket on the Oudeschip point itself (when it is high tide, part of the small rocky outcrop into the sea is cut off from the mainland), which are the remains of the Harvest Capella that was wrecked here in 1986. The other is apparently the remains of two ships – the Maori 1909 and Bos 400 from 1994, a little further up the coast on the next outcrop of land just before one rounds the bend into Hout Bay. So don’t attempt this hike, if you do want to descend, at high tide.
It’s a steep decline down to Oude Skip point. The first bit of the hill you’ll have some help in the form of innovative steps made up of stones held by sturdy wire in the shape of steps, but from then on, you can end up having a pretty slippery time of it, as a lot of the stones and soil have been eroded and are loose. I wouldn’t advise pushing on to the second wreck along the coastal path – it is clearly marked as unsuitable for day strollers and would probably need a guide.
At the start of your descent, down past a lookout hut, there is a sign signifying that from here you’re welcome to push on to Hout Bay, but that it’ll take you a further 6.5 hours to do so on the coastal route. By this time though, I was pretty distracted by the whales. Halfway down I became aware that a mother and her calf were swimming right up against the shore and that half of our party hadn’t even seen her! What a fantastic sight! So close – we were only about 300 metres away from her.
We stumbled over boulders once down at the bottom, until we reached the ‘island’ where there is a wonderful space to just sit and drink in the views. It was pretty devastating to see the amount of litter that had washed up in the area usually under water during high tide. Slops, plastic bottles, old car seats, tennis balls, and endless paper bags brought sharply home to us the effort we all need to make to prevent this nonsensical devastation of our natural heritage!
Over sandwiches and ice cold watermelon (how is that for planning!) we managed to see a seal sunning on the rocks, whilst watching a number of speed boats head out our way to catch a glimpse of the whales. As we approached the island there was already a boat that had been stationed close to a mother and calf someway off the shore for sometime, which I guessed to be scientists or whale monitors. I’m amazed that, despite the need for licences to go close to whales, people think that if they have a boat they can simply do as they please – speedboats came within metres of them.
The way back was pretty tough going as we ascended in the heat of the day. We were tired and certain younger members of our party were particularly unwilling to do the climb at all, although sitting on shoulders was out of the question!
Would I do it again? Most certainly. What a beautiful hike.
Video: Short video showing the views from Hout Bay to Llandudno:
Photographs by and © Iain and Stefani.
Photos – Click thumbnails to view the large photos.
Photographs taken on the Oude Skip Hike
You are reading Popular Hiking Trails and Walks in South Africa Series Read more from this series of articles.
- Hiking the Otter Trail
- Walking above Simons Town
- The Whale Trail
- Table Mountain Hikes
- The Walk to Elephants Eye Cave
- Cape of Good Hope Trail (overnight hiking trail)
- Hike the Hoerikwaggo Trail
- Waterworks Museum Hike, Cape Town
- Valley of the Gods Hiking Trail
- Crouching Lion, Hidden Mountain
- Game for a Walk? Game Viewing Walk
- Easy Walks Cape Town: A couple of the easiest and most beautiful walks in Cape Town
- Take a hike ... in Gauteng!
- Orange Kloof Forest Trail
- Tranquillity Cracks
- Constantia Walks - Discovering the Constantia green belt – city walks with a difference
- Rock-hopping in Bainskloof
- The Postberg Flower Trail
- Forget about its name - there’s nothing cute or cuddly about the Otter Trail
- Table Mountain Pipe Track
- Skeleton Gorge hiking trail
- The Hunter Gatherer Hiking Trail
- Hout Bay and beyond ... the Oude Skip hike
- Kologha Forest Trails, Eastern Cape
- The St Lucia Wilderness Trail
- Hiking in Hogsback
- The Swartberg Hiking Trail
- The Strandloper Trail in South Africa's Eastern Cape
- The Swellendam Hiking Trail - a 6-day hike in the Langeberg mountains
- Suicide Gorge – the ultimate kloofing experience
- Take a walk on “The Wild Side of the Drakensberg” - Wartrail Skywalk
- Yellowwood trail Kirstenbosch
- Foot safaris in Kruger National Park
- Walking on clouds: Hiking in the Drakensberg
- A walk at Silvermine - so much more than a breath of fresh air
- Walk above St James - a perfect child-friendly Cape Town hike via the Old Mule Path
- Botterboom Hiking Trail
- Follow the yellow brick road – the yellow route at Helderberg Nature Reserve
- Strolling the pipe track
- Scaling Steenberg Peak - a 2.5 hour circular route at Silvermine
- Kgalagadi - two day wilderness trail that will leave you changed
- Rambling in Robberg Nature Reserve
- Boesmanskloof Trail (also known as the Greyton-to-McGregor trail)
- 7 most memorable hikes in South Africa
- 8 great day trails (not that well known)
- Lazy man's hikes – where to walk off the wrath of the holidays
- Fun in the sun at Umgeni Valley
- Cecilia Waterfall from Kirstenbosch - a wonderful walk
- Hiking up Du Toitskloof in the Limietberg Nature Reserve - The Krom River hike
- Garden Route Day Walks – we select the best
- Peers Cave Hike
- Last chance for Crystal Pools hike
- Hiking Above Wellington – Happy Valley Trail in the Limietberg
- The Thomas T Tucker Shipwreck Trail in Cape Point
- Walking Silvermine – the Amphitheatre Route Around the Dam
- Safety In Hiking
- Hike to Muizenberg Cave
- The Darwin Trail – Retrace Darwin's Visit To The Cape
- Walking Table Mountain
- Three Awesome Hikes To Do When In The Cape
- Three Must-Do Hikes in Limpopo
- The Wild Coast Trail – escape like never before
- Newlands Forest Walk To The Base Of Newlands Ravine
- The Otter Trail
- Scaling Vlakkenberg – a hike in the heart of Cape Town's suburbs
- A Morning Hike Up Lions Head
- Hiking Trails in the Tsitsikamma
- Popular Walks and Hikes in Cape Town, South Africa
- Hiking In and Around Pretoria
- Hiking Mossel Bay
- Hiking Jonkershoek Tweede Waterval - a wonderful easy ramble, perfect for families
- Top 5 winter hiking trails in South Africa
- 5 best family hikes in South Africa
- Day Hikes of the Drakensberg
- Hike to Kettlespout Falls in Hogsback
- Coastal Hike in Coffee Bay
- Sentinel Peak Hike - Drakensberg
- Hiking up Table Mountain - The Platteklip Gorge Hike