I joined a local hiking club – Friends of Lion’s Head and Signal Hill. The club works with the Table Mountain National Park Authorities and other local organizations to help people enjoy activities on Signal Hill and Lion’s Head. At the same time they help maintain the mountain as a natural area containing indigenous vegetation.
In the winter the club hikes on Saturday and Sunday, weather and wind permitting. The members vary in age and hiking ability. It’s a good place to begin learning the hiking trails on Table Mountain. Yesterday we met at Kloof Nek and took the Contour Path up Signal Hill. One of the hikers invited me on another hike in Newlands Forest.
One interesting sight on Signal Hill was a kramat. Kramats (Mazaars) are holy shrines of Islam. They mark the graves of holy men of the Muslim faith who died at the Cape. There are more than 20 recognized kramats in the Cape Peninsula. The kramat at the ridge on Signal Hill marks the grave of Sheikh Mohamed Hassen Ghaibie Shah. On the grounds near the mosque there are also graves of other Muslims considered less holy.
“The history of the Mazaars starts with the Dutch invasion of India, Ceylon, and Java. Local communities resisted the tyranny of their invaders but the Dutch banished their leaders to the Cape. They sold citizens of Malay, Indian, Javanese, Bengalese, and Arabian origins into slavery. These slaves and sultans started the first Muslim communities in the Cape. During their occupation, the British were the first to permit Muslims to build Mosques.”
There were fields of wild flowers along the Contour Path. It’s not spring yet but many of the flowers have already started blooming. I saw several flowering cape aloe plants with large orange plums and there were many fields of white and yellow daisies. One of the hikers knew most of the names – which I can’t remember. I will be here during part of the spring and am really looking forward to wildflower hikes!
Since it’s a long weekend I may take day trips to some of the west coast nature reserves. I received an invitation to a comedy club performance at Artscape next week. Comedy and jazz clubs are very popular in Cape Town.