TUF has taken their geotrail series digital with Forge 

Back in mid-2021, The Umvoto Foundation (TUF) team approached Forge to host a digital version of their first in a series of geotrails around southern Africa. The Table Mountain Dams Geotrail guides hikers through the history, construction, geology and climate of Cape Town framed against the story of the evolving water supply challenges that the city has faced since the 1660s. The companion field guide, which takes the form of an interactive trail map in the Forge app, will highlight key locations of interest in this story.  

But Who, or what, is Forge? 

Forge is a 100% South African start-up specialising in mapping and GIS data solutions. Their main feature is the Forge mobile app which was released in mid-2019. The initial app hosted several well-known hiking trails around the Cape Peninsula on detailed and accurate but simple map interfaces. Since then, the app has grown to feature trails from over 30 nature reserves across five provinces including some of South Africa’s most recognisable names in hiking and trail running circles; Royal Natal, Cederberg Wilderness and Jonkershoek.  

A group of people hiking along the jeep track, Orange Kloof
Hikers on the jeep track leading into protected Orange Kloof. Photo credit: Alex Weiss, Forge 

Other projects on the go from Forge’s side include a signed partnership with the Western Cape’s conservation authority CapeNature, whereby users can access maps for several CapeNature Reserve and report any trail issues or concerns directly to CapeNature through the Forge team. Forge is also really excited to have recently released the Geodyssey app, a simple digital geology map application, for the Geological Society of South Africa: Western Cape Branch

To keep up to date with Forge or get in touch, check out their website, Instagram page or Strava club

Broadening TUF’s collaborator network 

The collaboration between TUF and Forge was an obvious and symbiotic one, given Forge’s strong focus on trail recreation and the desire to build a cohesive outdoor community through its platform, and TUF’s mission to seek collaborations with individuals who promote the education and protection of environmental resources. The Table Mountain Dams Geotrail is being used as a prototype or showcase for TUF’s geotrail series initiative. TUF is looking to generate further funds to develop further geotrails (the Hermanus Water Walk is currently underway), get more geotrails onto the app with the possibility of even developing their own bespoke geotrails app for the entire network, and as an educational tool for local communities and guides. 

A body of water with a rock island in the distance and reflection on the water
Reflection of Celft Peak and Reserve Peak on Woodhead Dam. Photo credit: Joshua Weiss, Forge 

The Table Mountain Dams Geotrail: On the App 

No doubt this collaboration has been a successful one as the Table Mountain Dam Geotrail has recently gone live on the Forge App (under Speciality Maps > Events) and its might has been tested in the inaugural hike (more on this to come).  

The free-to-use Forge app is easy to navigate and allows you to explore the trace of the trail and the geosites curated by TUF. Each geosite includes titbits of interesting hydrogeological, historical and climatological information as well as linked photographs. Hikers can also access permit information (remember Orange Kloof requires a permit), alternate routes, information about the terrain/difficulty of the selected trail, mountain safety advice and emergency contacts through the app – another benefit of using Forge’s existing app interface.  

Download the Forge App or explore the web map today to immerse yourself in the history of engineered water supply to Cape Town. App tutorials and guides are available.  

TUF is set to release the full guidebook for the Table Mountain Dams Geotrail in the upcoming weeks, and hikers will be able to take their pocket guidebook and pull-out map with them or plan their trips from a digital copy. Follow TUF on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn to find out when the guidebook is available and how you can book your spot on the next guided tour. 

Used the app or walked the trail? Provide feedback to the Forge and TUF teams.