Sugar Loaf

TIME: 4 hours.
TERRAIN: Undulating path with a few steep slopes and fairly easy scrambles.

Top Gate is the starting point. Take the path right, leading past the football field. In spring, particularly after a burn, clumps of Barleria monticola, a lovely mauve flower, erupt out of the blackness. Keep left, going uphill, where the path forks. Do not turn left to the dams and the aerial, but keep straight on towards the cliff face, with the fence on your left. This path leads to Sugar Loaf Gap. Once on top of the plateau take note of any marker that identifies the route back; many a walker has had difficulty in finding the exact spot on the return. Now go left, path not well marked, to the Sugar Loaf summit. Water may be difficult to locate, so make sure to carry some. Return the same way.

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Vultures often soar over Sugar Loaf. Two species occur here. The Cape vulture is endemic – found only in southern Africa, with its main stronghold in the Berg. It is gregarious, so although foraging birds are widely spread, to survey the most ground, each can see the next, and all will arrive at a carcase within a few minutes.

The bearded vulture (lammergeyer) is solitary, preferring old kills, even dry bones, that other scavengers cannot tackle. If the bone is too big to swallow, the lammergeyer carries it high in the air and drops it on a big rock. Its rusty colour is a form of make-up, derived from iron-rich rocks, and must be renewed after every moult to impress the opposite sex.

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