Cape Town Cave Exploring


Apr 16, 2018

Ryan MacDonnell


How the Photo was Taken

I took this photo using a Nikon D90, with an 18-55mm lens. The camera was set on a tripod and I triggered the shutter, set on a timer, using a remote control. I shot this image in RAW format, so in processing it I adjusted highlights, shadows, contrast, and saturation.


Photo Location

I took this photo from Diagonal Cave in Table Mountain National Park, Cape Town, South Africa on June 28th, 2017 around 11am. I had just spent eight weeks volunteering on a reptile research project in northern Limpopo province. The majority of this time was spent in a remote location, with no electricity, cellular reception, internet connection, or heated water (unless you start a fire!). My daily schedule consisted of hiking into the Soutpansberg mountains, and surveying for snakes, lizards, and scorpions. I decided to take a week at the end of my trip to explore Cape Town, and spent the majority of my time in and around Table Mountain National Park. On my first day out, I ventured into the park without a concrete plan, hoping to find a map of trails and decide from there... I chose to take a path called the Pipe Track, a fairly easy hike suited for families. I started my hike, and soon after came upon a fork in a trail; one branch leading up into the mountain titled "Diagonal Route". I didn't remember seeing this one on the map, so I did a quick google search. It was described as a moderately difficult trail, with a little bit of climbing necessary, and much less traffic than most other trails. I decided this was a more suitable trail for my adventurous style, and began my ascent. To put it briefly, I did not find the cave pictured on this day, but instead put in around 20km of hiking, with a good portion of it being bushwhacking... I wouldn't go so far as to say I was lost, just making my own trail. I had actually gone left early on, when I should have gone right. This took me up a slippery trail along a waterfall, before having to round a massive steep valley called Porcupine Buttress. The hike was difficult and slow-going, as the trail was grown-in to the point of barely being recognizable as a trail. This all made sense when I finally reached the top of this trail, turned around, and read the sign posted at the top. It said something along the lines of "Foot path closed for safety reasons". I all of a sudden realized why I hadn't encountered a soul during my 4 hours of hiking. I was not in fact on the Diagonal Route, but on an even lesser known path I am yet to find a name for. I finished my day by visiting the highest point on Table Mountain and hiking down the opposite side I had come up. Upon returning to my hostel and doing more research on Diagonal Route, I learned that I should have come across a large cave. After taking a day to let my legs rest, I ventured out once more. It had rained the night before, so I was hesitant to begin my ascent. I knew that if I take the exact same route I had taken two days earlier, I would have no choice but to finish it, as the slippery ground would make it too dangerous to turn around. Starting up the same trail, I eventually saw where I went wrong the first day and corrected my route. It turned out that Diagonal Cave was much closer to the starting point than I had imagined, only about a kilometer from where the trail branched off of the Pipe Track. I finally came across this spectacular cave with an even more spectacular view of Lion's Head and Camp's Bay!


About the Author

Ryan MacDonnell

I am a 19 year old Wildlife Biology and Conservation student at the University of Guelph. I'm passionate about all forms of wildlife, especially the underappreciated and unloved, and I love travelling and documenting all the adventures along the way!

Website : instagram: rmac9821



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