AWOL hiking and cycling Tours on the Cape Peninsula had to grind to a halt for a week in March this year as fires raged over 6 days through 5500 hectares of mountains, forests and nature reserve.
The devastation of this fire was immense, over 300 people were evacuated from their homes, toll of Wildlife and our fire crews fought through a heat wave of long days and even longer nights to contain the blaze!
The community of Cape Town rallied together to provide donations, food parcels and water for the fire fighters. Volunteers assisted the SPCA who rescued injured animals such as tortoises, grysbok and baboons off the mountain.
On the second day of the fire SANPARKS informed AWOL Tours that that the beautiful Silvermine tented camp had been badly damaged in the fire and we acted quickly to cancel overnight hikes and evacuate hikers out of sensitive areas, and although our guests were offered full refunds, they requested that we rather donate their monies to the fire fighters.
Due to destruction of the fires, the iconic 38th Cape Town Cycle Tour race had to be rerouted and shortened to an only 47km. It was a huge pity for the many international guests but cyclists took the event in their stride and made the most of day by proudly wearing red colours in respect to the Cape Town firefighting community.
As the smoke slowly lifted to show the full scale of the damage, we realised that our hiking and mountain biking trails in Silvermine were very badly damaged and rehabilitation of the areas would be a long time coming. So it was to new single tracks further afield we ventured to ensure that our winter mountain biking adventures could continue. After many early morning recces we found splendid mountain biking terrain in the Winelands through the most beautiful scenery and we are looking very much forward to sharing this with our winter guests.
Table Mountains overnight Hoerikwaggo hiking trail has also been affected and its only possible to hike three of the five days. AWOL Tours has managed to amend the itinerary to do circular walks whilst we wait the Silvermine tented camp to be rebuilt.
On a more positive note many new trails are being opened up: – The mountain biking community is lobbying with the City of Cape Town to open up the Constantia greenbelt and Cecelia forest and a dedicated team of volunteers are building single track on Blackhill near Simonstown. With any luck by the time Tokai trails open again we will have a continuous stream of mountain biking from the city to Cape Point.
We dedicate thanks to all the volunteers and fire fighters who worked tirelessly to safeguard our beautiful mountain and surrounding properties and to the memories of helicopter pilot Willem Marais and firefighter Nazeem Davies who died in service.
Photo credit to Andy Nix http://pix.andynix.co.za/
The mountain is coming back to life, female baboons are pregnant and slowly the birds are returning to their habitat, the Cape fynbos is regenerating with gentle autumn rains and soon the single track rides will feel the AWOL Momsem bike tyres again but everywhere there is a renewed respect for our Cape Town fire fighting community and our beautiful Table Mountain.