As a first-time dog owner and passionate traveller to South Africa’s wild places, I recently wondered where I could walk my energetic schnauzer. With Table Mountain National Park on my doorstep, there are quite a few options to enjoy the great outdoors with my pooch. By Arnold Ras

Raising a dog in a city can be challenging. Like us humans, they also enjoy escaping the hustle and bustle for a more peaceful and natural setting. I was over the moon to discover that Table Mountain National Park is one of our few national parks that permits dog walks. Why leave man’s best friend at home when they can also experience the thrills of sandy beaches, mountain streams and forests?

First things first: familiarise yourself with the authorised areas and the park’s dog walking rules and regulations. Don’t forget to purchase a SANParks My Activity Permit. Each permit grants one dog owner and no more than two canines access to explore Table Mountain National Park for one whole year.

Good to know

A dog walking permit costs R270 per person and can be purchased at the Tokai Tourism Office, open Mondays to Fridays, 08:00-15:45. Or give SANParks a call on +27 (0)21 712 7471 for more information.

Where’s my dog welcome?

Newlands Forest

Here you’ll find several popular dog walk routes. Enter at Forest Station for a shorter circular route, or venture past Newlands Reservoir through Groote Schuur Estate all the way to Rhodes Memorial. Known for its leafy canopy and cool mountain spring water, this is any canine’s ultimate playground.

Pipe Track

This moderately easy walk starts at the Kloof Nek parking lot and ends at Slangolie Ravine. Dog owners, take note that no dogs are permitted beyond this point. There’s nothing bad about this hike: splendid views of Camps Bay, Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, beautiful fynbos and air as fresh as a daisy. As portions of the trail may sometimes be closed due to maintenance work on the old pipeline, do contact the Tokai Tourism Office (+27 (0)21 712 7471) prior to your hike.

Constantia Nek/Cecilia Plantation

What’s lovely about Constantia Nek is that you can choose how far you want to venture out. If time’s on your side, make your way from just above Constantia Nek to Spilhaus Ravine, pass De Villiers Dam, Alexandra Dam, Victoria Dam, and call it a day with a picnic next to Woodhead Dam. Take note that swimming is strictly prohibited for dogs and humans.

Lower Tokai Plantation

Start at one of the parking areas in Dennendal Ave or Orpen Road to explore the area’s critically endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos. For flora lovers, 16 of the plantation’s Cape Flats Sand Fynbos plant species are found nowhere else on earth. And take a break at Soetvlei Wetlands – a soul replenisher to say the least.

Special Management Areas

These areas are a bit more tricky in the sense that dogs are only allowed at certain spots or pathways. Make sure you know which is which before you set out.

  • Silvermine Dam: If splashing is part of the excursion, my Pico is up for anything and everything. Dogs are allowed only on the far side of the reservoir.
  • Noordhoek Beach: When arriving at the parking area, make use of Beach Road to access the beach. Most of the beach is dog friendly, but steer clear of the adjacent strip of greenery. Take note that the Kakapo Shipwreck, also open to dogs, is seasonally closed not to disturb ground-breeding birds.
  • Scarborough Beach: Mostly accessible to dogs, but remember to pick up all number twos and don’t hassle other picnickers.
  • Boulders Beach: As dogs pose a substantial threat to the endangered African penguin (hundreds of them come here to breed), dogs are permitted only on Willis Walk parallel to the area.

After the rain

A post shared by Hetty Zantman (@hettela) on

Good to know

  • Dogs should be leashed when passing through designated parking areas, picnic areas and braai sites.
  • Make sure that your furry friend does not interfere with others also wanting to experience this national park.
  • Don’t forget to carry poo bags and clean up after your dog by using provided bins.
  • Remember that wildlife is priority – ensure that your dog does not chase or harm any.
  • Dog handlers should stick to approved paths and tracks at all times.

Table Mountain and crime?

Merle Collins, SANParks regional communications manager, says all parties, internally and externally, agreed that a unified approach is key to tackling the issue of increased crime in Table Mountain National Park. “After several meetings with members of the security cluster, as well as internal workshops, the current operational plan for safety and security was reviewed and upgraded in order to deal with the ongoing safety challenge that is besetting the park.”

She urges all visitors to report criminal incidents to the nearest police station and open a case file to generate an active docket for any incidents that occur. “SANParks is deeply concerned about any incidents taking place in the park and requests hikers to save the emergency number on their phones. These include 086 110 6417, or 107/021 480 7700 for the park to be contacted immediately via radio.”

Banner picture by Leon Kriel