Hermanus’ Hidden Gem and the Mysterious Galpin Squad

In the scenic town of Hermanus, nestled along South Africa’s serene coast, a secret is whispered amongst the waves and the wind – the enigmatic Galpin Hut. Known only to a select few, this secret is akin to uncovering a treasure chest in a town already brimming with guest houses and holiday splendours.

Perched proudly at 525 meters above sea level, Galpin Hut offers a unique adventure for the outdoor enthusiast and avid hiker. The trek to Galpinkop, a modest peak at 596 meters, rewards with breathtaking views of the Hemel-en-Aarde Valley, the majestic Babylonstoren mountain range, and a panoramic vista of Hermanus and Walker Bay.

This hut, a brainchild of the Hermanus Botanical Society, was born in the early 1970s. It stands as a tribute to Ernest Galpin, a renowned South African botanist, and has weathered its share of storms, including a severe north-westerly in 1977. Rebuilt and reopened in 1978, today’s hut is a comfortable, if somewhat ‘eina’ (ouch!), two-hour hike from the Fernkloof Nature Reserve Visitors’ Centre.

The journey to Galpin Hut can begin either from the Visitor’s Centre or near Bosko. With two bunk beds and basic but clean facilities, it offers a rustic escape for four. While the amenities are humble – think enviro-loo with a view and rainwater on tap – the experience is unparalleled. Hikers are advised to pack their essentials, as the no-fire policy means bringing your own gas stove.

Nestled in the Kleinrivier Mountains, the Fernkloof Nature Reserve is a botanist and birdwatcher’s paradise, boasting over 1250 plants and 130 recorded bird species. With over 60 km of trails catering to various fitness levels, it offers spectacular views of Hermanus, Walker Bay, and beyond.

But here’s where the mystery deepens. Who keeps this popular hut so immaculately clean, especially during the bustling holiday season? Enter the ‘Galpin Squad’, a group as enigmatic as the hut itself. These dedicated individuals trek up the mountain daily, armed with brooms, buckets and mops, ensuring the hut is spotless for its next visitors.

Their fitness regime is a topic of much speculation. How do they maintain such stamina and strength to perform this uphill task every day? While the specifics of their training remain a mystery, some members have been spotted at the Gateway Centre, not laden with groceries but simply clutching a towel.

Could it be that the same secret buzz from our previous tale – the unnamed haven of rejuvenation above the Spar – is also the training ground for the Galpin Squad? It seems Hermanus hides not just one, but multiple mysteries in its folds.

As we salute the Galpin Squad for their dedication to preserving one of Hermanus’ best-kept secrets, we can’t help but wonder: what other mysteries does this charming town hold? And who else might be in on them? Hermanus continues to enchant and intrigue, with its secrets nestled between sea spray and mountain mist.


The current rental rate for the Hut is R300 per night. This rate covers the accommodation only. To make a booking, please contact Peter Coxall at +27 (0)82 570 3403 or pcoxall@mweb.co.za. You can collect the key from the Fernkloof Nursery and park near the Visitor’s Centre. For routes and elevations, the AllTrails app is a useful resource. The hut is equipped with two bunk beds and mattresses, comfortably accommodating up to four people. Please bring your own bedding or sleeping bag for comfort. Hikers are advised to bring all necessary cooking equipment, lighting, food, cutlery, and drinks. Open fires are not allowed, although a gas stove is permissible. Rainwater is usually available in a tank next to the hut for drinking purposes.