The legendary Camino de Santiago in Spain, which attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims each year, is famous not only for the natural beauty of its well-trodden route, but also for the spiritual nature of the journey, as those who have walked it will attest. Among those who’ve heeded its call is Capetonian Gabrielle Andrew, who decided to bring the concept to Cape Town after she and her daughter, Peggy Coetzee-Andrew, walked the Spanish route in 2011. Cape Camino was launched in 2013!
A Long Distance Urban Walking Route
Just as the Camino de Santiago’s Catholic heritage offers a glimpse into the old world, so too does the Cape Camino celebrate our region’s multiculturalism and depth of history. And, like the Spanish path, which offers both suburban and rural walking, the setting of the Cape Camino is peri-urban, and the route wends its way through winelands, along beaches, through suburbs and neighbourhoods. This diversity, coupled with the Cape’s natural beauty, has a spiritual appeal of all its own.
The Cape Camino’s founders have plotted a route that circles the Cape Peninsula, starting in Constantia and winding its way along beaches, through forests and over mountains. The seven-day journey takes you to Noordhoek via False Bay and onto Hout Bay, climbing over Kloof Nek into the City Bowl before heading back to Constantia via Rhodes Memorial.
Along the way, you’ll visit historical monuments, natural wonders and sacred religious grounds, such as the living grounds of the Khoisan, the kramat of Sheikh Noorul Mubeen, and Schoenstatt’s Catholic shrine.
The Cape Camino’s (take-out tour) guides are available to assist with navigation, safety from natural elements, and sharing their knowledge of the region’s history and geography (if required).
And, in addition to the physical journey, an important part of the camino is meeting new people and hearing their stories.
Walk This Way: The Options
You have the option of making your own way along the route, or you can join a scheduled Group Camino, which consists of around 15 to 22 other pilgrims. The next one takes place from 7 to 13 September 2018.
Alternatively, you can purchase one of the available Walking Packages, where accommodation and activities are organised on your behalf. These packages include the standard seven-day journey, as well as customised packages for those who prefer a shorter route.
There’s also the Big 7 Camino, a six-day journey that includes a visit to the Big 7 sites around Cape Town (including Robben Island, Table Mountain and Kirstenbosch Gardens), and a drive along the Atlantic Seaboard coastline.
Once you’ve completed the route, you can get a special certificate sent to you, identifying you as one of the lucky few to have embarked on this unique pilgrimage.
Safety first Concerns over the recent spate of crimes around Cape Town’s hiking trails have been taken into account. As such, Cape Camino employs the services guides and community escorts to accompany pilgrims along the route and ensure their safety.
Have Passport, Will Walk
To embark on the walk, you’ll need a Cape Camino passport (R380), which comes with a map of the route, and a list of useful contacts (including emergency numbers). It also identifies you as a pilgrim, so you can receive discounts and value adds from service providers located along the trail. These include entry into cultural sites, activities, restaurants and accommodation providers. Pilgrims need to get their passports stamped at Cape Camino official service providers along the route. Once you have all your stamps, you receive your certificate of completion.
Cape Camino is a source of enormous opportunity for businesses and residents located along the route; an increasing number of which have pledged to provide goods and services to pilgrims bearing the Cape Camino passport.
Good to know The organisers of Cape Camino are in the process of developing a second route, one that will run along the Berg River towards the sea. The Bergrivier Camino is expected to launch near the end of 2018.
Important note Although the Cape is rich in natural beauty, tourists and locals alike are urged to take necessary precautions when exploring secluded areas, as crimes and accidents do happen.
Those venturing into the Table Mountain National Park should have the following emergency numbers on hand: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700. Criminal incidents should be reported to the nearest police station as soon as able.
We also recommend @safetymountain as a useful resource for hikers. This free safety tracking service allows you to notify local trackers of your contact details, intended route and travel time via whatsapp. You are then able to provide hourly updates on your progress, and to notify trackers when you are safely off the mountain.