As I reflect on my recent adventure hiking up Table Mountain via Skeleton Gorge with AWOL Tours, one word comes to mind: unforgettable. Our journey began amidst the awe-inspiring beauty of Kirstenbosch Gardens, led by the knowledgeable and passionate guide, Andy whose insightful commentary on the flora and fauna set the tone for the day ahead.

The gardens were established in 1913, and was designed to be a living testament to the diverse flora of the Cape region, and it certainly lived up to its reputation. As we marvelled at the vibrant displays of indigenous plants and learned about their unique adaptations, it became clear that Kirstenbosch was more than just a stop along our journey—it was an integral part of our experience. The garden’s rich history and stunning beauty set the stage for the adventure that awaited us.

Our hike through Skeleton Gorge was steeped in history, with each step offering a glimpse into the past. Named for the skeletal animal remains that once dotted its path, Skeleton Gorge has long been a favourite among hikers seeking adventure and exploration.

As we made our way through the ancient forests and moss-covered rocks of Skeleton Gorge, it was easy to imagine the indigenous Khoi people who first traversed these trails centuries ago.

The ascent through Skeleton Gorge was both exhilarating and challenging, but Andy’s guidance and expertise made every step feel like a triumph. His intimate knowledge of the terrain and local ecosystem enhanced the experience, as he pointed out rare plant species and shared fascinating facts and stories about the mountain’s geological history.

But it wasn’t just Andy’s expertise that made the journey memorable—it was his genuine passion for the outdoors and genuine care for our group’s well-being. His encouragement and support kept us motivated, even during the toughest stretches of the hike.

Although our ascent to the top of Table Mountain was thwarted by unexpected rain, our journey with AWOL Tours became a testament to the idea that sometimes the adventure lies not in reaching the destination, but in the experiences along the way. The camaraderie shared among our group, the laughter in the face of adversity, and the sheer joy of immersing ourselves in nature made for an unforgettable experience.

As we descended back to Kirstenbosch Gardens, Andy continued to enrich our experience with his wealth of knowledge and infectious enthusiasm. The day may have come to an end, but the memories of our adventure will stay with me for a lifetime.

In the end, hiking up Table Mountain via Skeleton Gorge with AWOL Tours wasn’t just about reaching the summit—it was about the journey itself, and the incredible guide who made it all possible. Thank you, Andy, for an experience I’ll never forget.

Written by Jesse Gourlay who did a guided hike with AWOL Tours on the 14th of February 2023