It is that time of year again where everything is pumpkins, ghosts, vampires.
Yes, it is Halloween time. Granted in South Africa we don’t do the whole trick a treat thing and now there are still the confinements of Covid-19 restricting us more.
However, we can still enjoy scary stories and even a hike that gets that adrenaline pumped. After all, if you feel alone and missing people, watch a scary movie, then you are not so alone anymore because you hear, see and feel the “monsters” around you…
Haunted Cape Town hikes
So let’s get started and go to the place with the most ghost stories in South Africa – Cape Town.
Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa, with a heritage of over 300 years old, the Mother City is home to some most beautiful, important historical buildings in the country and the most haunted.
There are three must-do Haunted Hikes in the Western Cape, a fair warning – these hikes are always haunting not just on Halloween.
3 Haunted Cape Town hikes:
- Table Mountain
- The Flying Dutchman, Cape Point
- Spookdraai Hiking Trail – Cape Agulhas
1. Table Mountain
The Ghost of Verlatenbosch is an imperishable tale set on Table Mountain. It is said that a governor of Cape Town made an enemy of a citizen. The citizen with malevolence in his thoughts created a plan where he gave the governor’s son a beautiful flute as a gift. Unbeknownst to the governor or his son, the flute was once owned by a leper. Within days of the son playing his flute, he became ill. He was forced into exile in a lonely hut at on the mountain, where he played his flute until he died. Some say on an early morning or still evening in the forests of Platteklip Gorge on Table Mountain, you can still hear his mournful tune today.
- Platteklip Gorge Hiking Trail:
The Platteklip Gorge hiking trail begins on Tafelberg Road, approximately 1.5 km past the Lower Cablecar Station.
This is the most direct route up the mountain and takes between 2-3 hours one-way and it is tough, so you have to be fit but the views are breathtaking. Once you reach the top of Table Mountain, more than 1000 meters.
above sea level, beaches and the ocean below is spectacular. You can see Signal Hill, Devil’s Peak, and Lion’s Head and on a clear day as far as Hout Bay.
It can be cold, wet, and hot on the same day so make sure you have your 12 essentials handy.
The best time of the day to do this hike is early in the morning or later in the afternoon.
- Devil’s Peak
According to the locals, Devil’s Peak got its name from the popular legend of the Dutch pirate Van Hunks and his smoking duel with the Devil. As the story goes Van Hunks was a Dutch pirate who had retired to Cape of Good Hope and escaped his wife’s sharp tongue by spending his days smoking his pipe at his favourite spot on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain.
One day Van Hunks was startled to see a tall stranger sitting exactly where he normally sat. The mysterious stranger asked the retired pirate if he could spare him a little tobacco and Van Hunks started to boast about the fact that he was the only man who was able to smoke as large a quantity of it as he did.
The stranger replied that he could easily smoke as much, if not more, than the old pirate. Angrily, an indignant Van Hunks challenged the man to a smoking contest. It was not too long before huge plumes of smoke enveloped them and started creeping up the mountain. Eventually, the whole mountain was covered as clouds of smoke poured over the mountain and enfolding it in a thick misty blanket.
Van Hunks was getting very tired and he noticed that the stranger was also looking very frustrated. Suddenly the stranger leaned forward and his black hat fell off revealing the devil himself. The devil was furious at having been beaten by a mortal and in a bright flash of lightning Van Hunks and the stranger vanished into the smoke leaving behind a scorched patch of ground.
Now every time the tablecloth appears on the mountain we know that Van Hunks and the Devil are at it again.
The Devil’s Peak Hiking Trail has 3 starting points but for this exercise, we are using Tafelberg Road and is about 2.8 km to the summit and took about 5 hours to complete the round trip including our rest stops. This is a moderate hike up until you reach the sign Devil’s Peak straight ahead or to the right Newland Ravine.
From there on it is uphill and steep, some places you have to scramble over large builders, and other places are very sandy and not enough grip for your hiking boots – hiking poles are very useful here.
Strong and cold winds often blow over the mountain resulting in temperature drops from 25 degrees to 10 degrees in a blink of an eye, and the mist tends to creep up on you.
The view up to the summit and at the top of the summit is spectacular, it really shows us that there are much more out there then what we think.
For this hike, you will have to be fit and very careful especially with the guts of wind blowing over the mountain.
Remember your 12 Essentials and make sure you are not hiking this alone and that you have a buddy that knows where you are going.
The best time for this hike is early in the morning.
2. The Flying Dutchman, Cape Point
The Flying Dutchman and his doomed ship have been sailing forever. As the legend goes the sea captain struggled to round the Cape of Storms, he swore that he would succeed even if he had to sail until Judgment Day. The Devil heard his oath and condemned him to sail the sea forever.
His only hope for salvation was to find a woman who loved him enough to declare herself faithful to the Dutchman for life and he could only go to shore every 7 years.
Every seven years the gloomy-looking ship with a strange glow even during daylight docks and the Dutchman once more in search for his true love comes ashore. It is said if you see The Flying Dutchman always tries to make contact with other ships, signaling her intent to lower a boat and deliver messages to home. And her sails are full even in the calmest weather.
Reports of seeing this ship have been coming in since 1823 from sailors, passengers, and locals. It is said that King George V as a 16-year-old midshipman aboard the HMS Bacchante at 4 in the morning on 11 July 1881, saw a ship that glowed with a very strange light as she approached.
It is said to be bad luck to see The Flying Dutchman as only pain and suffering will accompany you like the sea captain and his crew always try to find a way out of their curse.
Cape Point falls within the southern section of Table Mountain National park and has a treacherous shoreline littered with shipwrecks from years gone by. It makes it an interesting and fascinating journey to explore this once accident-prone peninsula’s beaches.
There are 2 variations of the famous Shipwreck Trail.
- Thomas T. Tucker Trail
The shortest and most accessible of the shipwreck trails starting from Cape Point Olifantsbos parking area, following the yellow markers towards the beach.
From there, you will follow the pristine, often isolated beach towards the prominent wreck of the SS Thomas T. Tucker. This so-called liberty ship, built by the United States during World War II to carry troops and weapons, wrecked on these rocks in 1942, as she was sailing close to the Cape Point coastline in an attempt to avoid detection by German U-boats.
After the Thomas T. Tucker wreck comes to the Nolloth. The Nolloth was wrecked in 1965 with a full load of liquor, and while this has long since been removed, it makes for a good resting point before returning. Retrace your steps back to the Olifantsbos parking area.
This is an easy route of about 3km and should take an hour and a half.
Follows the same route as Thomas T. Tucker but proceed past the Nolloth and follow the signs from the inland ridge. The trail is well-marked.
The Sirkelsvlei walk will take you through a beautiful loop up to the Sirkelsvlei pan, the largest body of water in the region, which is still fed by fresh underwater springs.
It’s an impressive, rugged route that over the years has braved the harsh Cape Point elements, and the stark fynbos makes way for reed flats, which are often punctuated by sightings of the rare red hartebeest, bontebok, and a multitude of birdlife.
This is the recommended route if you’re on the lookout for shipwrecks.
Tracing the route via the two major Cape Point wrecks is a fantastic half-day outing, and you’ll leave with a new appreciation for the torrid time that early sailors had while navigating these tricky waters.
The Sirkelsvlei trail is long but relatively easy, and the 7.5km return walk should take approximately 3 and a half hours.
Take enough water and pack a picnic, remember sunscreen, and don’t antagonize the baboons.
For more information on Cape Point Shipwrecks.
3. Spookdraai (Ghostcorner) Hiking Trail – Cape Agulhas
There are a lot of shipwrecks scattered around the Cape Shoreline and Cape Agulhas is a ship graveyard where you can still see some wrecks on the shoreline and find other pieces of wrecks on display in the Bredasdorp Shipwreck Museum.
So in a way, it makes sense that there could be discontented souls roaming around.
There are two main stories relating to L’Agulhas – one about a young woman with a voice like an angel who survived a shipwreck but died in one of the caves. The other story is about a man that got decapitated in an accident and now he is roaming the area probably searching for his head…
Spookdraai is actually the name given to the entrance of the bay at Cape Agulhas and the Spookdraai hiking trail takes in the historical landmarks like the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse with its seventy-one steps lead up to the top of the second oldest working lighthouse in southern Africa and the natural phenomenons of the area.
The Spookdraai Hike is a circular route beginning and ending in the same place and take about 2 and a half hours to complete and is an easy hike.
This hike includes fynbos and a lot of birds’ life, it also well-marked with 28 different “ghost signs” and is Free.
You can pick up a map from the Cape Agulhas Tourist Bureau at the foot of the Cape Agulhas Lighthouse.
For more information click on Aghulas Tourism
I would like to leave you with a quote from Helen Keller: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing”
So let’s have some fun.