So I don’t know about you, but since the arrival of our very first little one more than four years ago, I pretty much said goodbye to a lot of my hobbies. Not to say that one can’t have kids AND your hobbies, in fact it is highly recommended for one’s sanity that you do. It’s just, I guess, I’m not the poster child for it – ‘cause well,I’m still very much trying to find the room and space in my life to be the kind of mother that I want to be, invest in our marriage, pay the bills AND still fit in time for Kenpo, dancing and hiking.(I suppose this also explains my current “sanity” levels.)
However, of that hat trick of hobbies I mentioned above there, we, as a family, found that hiking is probably the most do-able for us, because it can be done as a team sport, and because of the wide choice of trails we have here in Cape Town, we can do it with the kids – so no need for babysitters.
I suppose the most vital facet of it all that you would depend on with small kids in tow, is good weather. And since this year Cape Town’s winter is spoiling us with good days, I think we’re in for the win to start making a proper go of it with the kids.
Since all the trails that Mike and I know are farrrr too challenging for little legs, not to mention faaarrr too challenging for mommy’s when-last-have-I-squatted legs to carry herself AND her 11kg beasty on her back, we’ve started doing some research on kiddy-friendly trails out here.
So please join us as we discover some of the kid-friendly trails, build up our kids ability to hike, so that one day we can get back into the hiking swing of things WITH the kids in tow, and continue the traditions of breakfast in the mountains, that my dad and mom made for us as a family when we were little kids.
The very first hike we did as our little family of four was actually not so much on a mountain, as it is more of a hill. Tygerburg Hill to be exact. Yip, that’s right, in the Tygerburg Nature Reserve.
I think this was the perfect choice to introduce the kids to the hiking concept. It had a slight incline so Morgy could get the feel of a slight climb, and lots and lots of bush and little animals, so the girls could get the feeling of being surround by nature. Also, and most importantly to me, it was nothing too strenuous and nothing too committed. And that bodes well not only for the kids’ tiny little legs but also for us as parents who’ve never ventured into hiking with little kids territory before. We as parents need to know that we won’t have a taxing “exit stage left” should things go pear shaped up on the mountains. As previously well-seasoned hikers we deem ourselves as, that’s the last thing we would want to deal with up on the mountains with a 1 and 4 year old. I mean, geez, parenting can be challenging on its own, never mind on top of a mountain!
There are about 13 different trails in the reserve, each at vaying lengths and inclines, and all kind of interlink, so you can make you own trail as well to suit your needs. We chose the shortened version of the Tortoise Trail going up purely because of incline and time it took to ascend. (The longer one was longer than we wouldve liked for our first time.)
It took us about 45 minutes, but that included photo ops and two water stops we forced on them. It might not seem much to you as an adult, but as an intro for both them and us, this was a good start. A particularly good indicator was the fact that Mike and I had to carry Morgy a bit over two of the bit steeper inclines. (to her defence though, it was only 2×100 meter distances, otherwise that little trooper pushed on. In fact, I may have pushed her a bit too hard that day.)
Parx, however, pretty much had the best seat in the house- right on her Daddy’s back. All she worried about was “where’s my blankie”, “where’s my molkies” and “hook(look), there’s a mousie!”. We still have to find a sweet spot with the config of that carrier, though, as Mike’s back was a bit bust from it. Either that, or its time for us to upgrade her current baby wrap to more weight appropriate carrier.
But I digress, so it took us about 45 minutes to get to the top of the hill with beautiful views below – not exactly Table Mountain and Lions Head type views, but beautiful nonetheless. The girls did some exploring and reluctant posing for the camera while I set out brekkie and hot chocolate. (ps. Anyone know where I can get caffeine free hot chocolate for the kids??)
After brekkie, chit chat and hubby and me getting all streamy eyed as we watched our girls play with each other..our hearts overflowing with the blessings we have in them, we packed it up and headed down. Naptime was dangerously close, so it was best we ended it on a good note before their good-behaviour-airtime ran up.
Since I knew Morgan-Lee’s legs were a bit tired, and with a few parts of the trail a bit steep, we decided to take the paved path down to avoid any trips and slips. (Sidenote: so yes, this is a wheelchair friendly spot as well, just used the paved path up and down – still steep and thus need assistance though) On our way down we spotted another picnic spot that had more tables and chairs, and actually had even better views (not pictured). Which actually to be honest would have suited me much better because, all those wires and satellites on the top of the hill where we sat didn’t make me all too comfortable. At all. So that’s now our new preferred brekkie area, instead.
It took us about 30 min or less to get down- so a great exit-stage-left plan IF you ever need to. Fortunately we didn’t need to, and the girls absolutely loved it! Or as Morgy likes to refer to it as “the bush.” So planning for the future hikes have been done with great excitement only.
“I love the bush, momma. “ and “When can we go to the bush again, dad?!” is all we heard for a very long time after that. However, what we also heard a lot of on that day, and for 3 days later was “my legs are sore, I cant walk mom”. “Morgy, why don’t you sit next to sissy for the photo?”…”I cant bend mamma. Put your phone down,mom. Mom! Go away!” …yeahhhh, lactic acid has the same effect on me, my child. #lacticAcidMakesMeHateTheWorld So maybe we did push a bit too hard for her first hike, but she still loved it, so mission of endearing the hiking life to our children’s hearts: accomplished!
What you need to know:
There are two entrance gates: One in Plattekloof, the other in Welgemoed.
Cost:R13 for 18 yrs or older
R6,50 for 3 yrs upto 17 yrs and seniors. (Season
tickets are also available)
- Tel: 021 4448971
- Website: Friends of Tygerberg Hills
Even if hiking never becomes a hobby for you, I hope that you do at least one day go out and just do it with your kids.(or even without them at first) Spend the morning with your kids, not worrying about ever getting to the top, but just enjoying being out in nature. Filling your lungs with crisp fresh air, your blood pumping vigourously through your veins as you move, the laughter and the wonderment of kids out in nature filling your soul. Sudden space to reflect upon what your heart really yearns for.(even if sometimes that’s just some shade and water)
Doing hikes again reminded Mike and I why we enjoyed it so. And with the kids along, there’s an even greater satisfaction now in sharing that joy with them and endearing them to a life in nature.
Hope to see you and your munchkins out on the trails too. Happy hiking! x