Of the Stellenbosch Mountains, Bothmaskop is perhaps the easiest to conquer. Nonetheless, it offers amazing views over the Stellenbosch area and conveniently includes a small, natural shelter on the summit, making it ideal for adventurous sleep-overs.
Length: One afternoon and the next morning (approx. 16:00 – 11:00)
Availability: Year round (weather dependent; definitely not recommended in winter)
Group size: 2-5
For my 18th birthday, I decided to pursue an adventure that I had long anticipated. With eight friends (if my memory serves me right), I set out to celebrate coming of age in a bit of alternative fashion: on top of a mountain. What a great time it turned out to be.
We set out on a Saturday afternoon at about 16:00 (we still had to distribute supplies between our bags), driving up to the starting point off the Helshoogte pass (see the map below). From there, we hiked up to very top of Bothmaskop, stopping along the way to take pictures at the various vantage points and even spotting a fire at our school. The nice thing about the Bothmaskop hike is that you can really take it easy; we walked slowly and took breaks often (but not in excess), which meant that you never really got tired. If I remember correctly we took about two hours to the top. (For those preferring a quicker pace: it’s possible to get to the top in just over an hour.)
Having arrived at the top, the weather turned a bit and we realized that we were in for a cloud cover in the night. After some hotdogs (prepared on a gas stove – fire isn’t allowed), bubbly, beautiful sights and a really good time, we turned in for the night. This proved to be a bit of challenge for a group of our size. I doubt that anyone slept comfortable that night, but at least the lack of space ensured that everyone was kept warm.
The next morning, we had some coffee, admired the morning views and then slowly set out for the descent. As can be expected, we got down much quicker than we went up. We were picked up again at the spot where we started and headed home for a decent breakfast and a good shower.
We had a really great time and I’d love to do it again sometime. Perhaps the only thing I’d do different would be to take smaller group, for practical reasons. However, it is a lot of fun going up as a big group, and if you’re willing to sacrifice one night’s sleep for that, it’s all worth it.
- Take along warm clothes (including a rain jacket) as the weather can change rapidly.
- Take a compact mattress along; the rock floor is a bit uneven and very hard.
- Organise someone to drop you off and pick you up.
Directions to starting point:
Click here for an interactive map and directions
- Pin B is at the turn-off from the Helshoogte pass.
Location & Hiking route:
Experienced on 6 February 2010