Hiking Table Mountain to the 5 dams is wonderful experience. Many people who live in Cape Town, don’t even know that that these dams exist and that Table Mountain is in fact home to 5 dams that were built long ago for water supply to the region.
There are several Table Mountain hiking routes that will lead to and around these dams and you can even take the cable car up and then hike across the mountain to get there. Depending on which dam you go to, hiking up Kasteelspoort, Skeleton Gorge or Constantia Nek will be the most direct routes. While you’re there, you can take advantage of the beautiful scenery and picturesque views. Hiking around the Table Mountain dams is a very peaceful and tranquil experience, the scenery here is incredible.
During earlier years of settlement in Cape Town, the citizens depended on a single mountain stream for all their water supplies. As time went by and the region becoming more populated to some extent, the stream was no longer adequate for supplying a large population with water. The demands for more water lead to the construction of a giant pipe to source water from the Disa River via the 12 Apostles. However, it wasn’t long before a better source of water was to be achieved and this resulted in the building of the first dam during the 1800’s.
After suffering water shortage during a drought that hit Cape Town, plans to better the water supply was put into action.
The Woodhead Reservoir (first dam on Table Mountain)
Hiking Table Mountain up Skeleton gorge will bring you straight to the Woodhead Reservior. You can’t miss it.
The Woodhead Reservoir was built to be 252m long and 44metres tall. This was a mammoth project, at the time laborers had to physically hike up Table Mountain and carry building materials to the top. Later the construction of a small cable car was built in order to help get workers and materials up and down the mountain. The journey would carry on from the cable station via a steam locomotive to the destination of the dam’s construction site. After the completion of the first dam in 1897, the upper station soon leads to the development of trading, and recreational facilities like a post office, bank and a general dealer. More or less a “sneak preview” of would be the thriving and well developed table top we know today.
Hely-Hutchinson (second dam)
Taking a 12 Apostles route up Table Mountain will bring you to this one. Kasteelspoort is the most popular route up and once you get to the top, the Hely-Hutcinson dam it is just a short walk across.
In a plot to get more water to the ever-growing demand of a thriving city, the Hely-Hutchinson dam was built. As a result of the drainage basin of the first dam, this water was enough to accommodate another dam; the Hely-Hutchinson was named after the governor Walter Hely-Hutchinson. The dam could hold a water capacity of 920 000 square meters of water and was completed in 1904.
The 3 dams that followed the first two
Between the years 1904 and 1907, another 3 dams were built, namely Victoria, Alexandra and De Villiers which would drive water supply toward the Southern Suburbs of Cape Town.
Hiking to these dams is a great Table Mountain hiking experience. You can also take advantage of stopping-over to visit the popular Waterworks Museum. Here you’ll learn even more about how these beautiful dams developed and the contributions of the people who helped make it a success.
There are rarely people around these parts of the mountain, so please do take all safety precautions and make sure you have supplies. Always hike Table Mountain in groups, remember help could be far away and phone signal around these parts of Table Mountain are often weak and sometimes nonexistent.
Despite the beauty and grand display of the Table Mountain dams, they only supply about 5% of Cape Town’s water; the rest comes from larger dams such as the Steenbras, Theewaterskloof and the Berg River.