Arangieskop is a 2-day hike in the Dassieshoek Nature Reserve, outside Robertson, in the Western Cape. It is often referred to as the “Kilimanjaro of the Cape”, not because of its height, but due to the relentless uphill of the first day and downhill of the second. However, that should not deter any reasonably fit hiker from hiking Arangieskop, as the overnight hut is one of the best in the country and will make you forget all about your tired legs.
Difficulty (fitness): 7-8/10 (The distances per day aren’t massive, but the continuous, steep ascent and descent requires strong legs)
Technical rating of trail: Standard trail walking with steep ascents and descents over rocky terrain. Sections of the trail are very exposed or badly eroded, which require balance and sure-footedness.
Duration: 21km, 2 days
Less than a 2-hour drive from Cape Town, Arangieskop is a perfect weekend hike. You have the option of spending a night at the start of the hike, but we decided to drive through on the day we started hiking. Parking is available either on the side of the road, just before you enter the reserve, or by the old house on the right, where you can spend the night.
The hike starts off nice and gentle, but as soon you hit the single track, you gaze up at the mountain and realise that the general nature of day 1 is UP.
It actually looks quite improbable from below, but the trail winds its way up the mountain along the path of “least resistance”, leading you past some beautiful swim spots that are a treat on a hot day.
The first day is only 9.5km, but it will take you a good 6-8 hours to get to the hut, depending on your pace and rest stops. The relentless uphill makes for slow going.
Once you reach the saddle, you get treated to amazing views all round, with Robertson behind you, Arangieskop to your right and the KOO valley below. The hard work is over as the amazing Arangieskop Hut starts coming into view.
Everyone who has spent a night here raves about it, because it really is something special. It has hot showers, thanks to the wood fired “donkey boiler”, the indoor fireplace heats up the whole house on cold nights and the outside braai area is well sheltered and lends itself to a very social night on the mountain.
Day 2 starts off with a rather rude awakening as you march straight up to the summit. Once you recover from a mild heart attack and start looking around, the view is spectacular.
The descent gully looks almost as improbable as the ascent and a pair of good knees are required. We found our hiking poles to be invaluable on this hike and I have heard some other hikers say that they would have perished on this hill were it not for their hiking poles. So, bring some hiking poles…
Once you get into the swing of the steep descent, it is actually very beautiful and quite an experience to descend such a massive ravine.
Exiting the main ravine, the path winds in and out as it crosses a few buttresses along the contour path.
There are a few shaded rest spots with pools along the way, but it is highly recommended to get an early start because the descent route turns into a bit of an oven in the afternoon. There is also a natural bee hive in an old tree at about 7kms that needs to be treated with respect. They didn’t bother us, but if you are allergic to bees, carry the necessary medication in case of a sting.
Day-2 is 11.4km long and will take about 6 hours to complete.
This is a must-do for all regular hikers. It is beautiful and challenging and the hut is loved by all that have spent a night in it. That being said, due to its challenging terrain and steep gradient, it can become very unpleasant if one is not fit enough. The steep terrain requires some strength and balance and a good sense of humour. Hiking poles are a massive help on the steep terrain. As always, being in a mountain environment, the weather can change without much warning, so always carry a warm layer, a beanie and a rain jacket.
How to book:
Bookings are made through the Langeberg Municipality
Tel: +27 23 626 8200