The lush mountains surrounding Capetwon on the coast has some great hiking spots.
1. Lions Head Table Mountain, CapeTown
After reading about the local tradition of hiking Lions Head on a full moon, I was keen to give it a go. As we had planned our trip to South Africa over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, I was super excited to be able to take part in the first full-moon hike of the decade!
We followed google maps to the starting point at Signal Hill and met lots of cars and walkers heading up the mountain. After a few cloudy days, this day was thankfully clear. Being a shameless sunset lover, I was absolutely buzzing as I knew I could expect a good one!
We were welcomed with the sight of lots of tiny lights trailing up the mountain and initially assumed the path was lit with lanterns. The lights were actually from hiker’s torches as they climbed the trail in the evening light- it was really beautiful.
We took the first trail we came upon after parking the car and followed it up the mountain. The well-worn path is an easy walk at first but becomes steep as you get nearer the top. To get to the top, you will need to scramble up rocks and boulders but will have the help of ladders.
After choosing a spot to sit with a great view over the bay, we set up a picnic, poured a local wine and watched the colours in the sky change as the sun set. Lions head was a perfect place to watch the gorgeous South African sunset and the rise of the gigantic full moon.
There was such a good feeling in the air with everybody in good form, enjoying themselves. I normally don’t like crowded hikes and tend to choose the less travelled path, but on this occasion it was wonderful experience.
The crowds descend the mountain in the moonlight, so make sure to bring a good torch and a sweater as temperatures can drop.
Near the top of Lions Head, we were stunned to see a paraglider take off right beside us and steer expertly between two steep ridges and descend towards the beaches of Camps Bay. You can try tandem paragliding from Lions Head by booking with Cape Town Tandem Paragliding.
2. Skeleton Gorge Table Mountain, CapeTown
Skeleton Gorge is one of my favourite hikes. You could guess from its name that it is not for the faint-hearted. The stunning route passes through a lush mountain forest but the ascent is steep and requires a decent level of fitness.
The trail begins in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens at the East side of Table Mountain.
It costs about 5 USD to enter the Botanical Gardens which has plenty of parking. Follow the signposts to Skelton Gorge and be sure to enjoy the magnificent scents along the way.
We followed the trail though a forest of native trees which gave good shade from the sun. This easy path became more difficult with a scramble up rocks and wooden ladders, passing streams and waterfalls.
Due to the Eastern slope of the mountain receiving the most rainfall in the Cape Peninsula, this stunning path can feel like a hike through a jungle, which is what makes the route so appealing for nature lovers who can relish the scenery. It is full of mountain fynbos, rock formations and you can enjoy the constant sound of wildlife and running water.
The difficult hike is worth it for the spectacular panoramic views from the top. As you reach the top you will find a map at the top showing your location and your route options. You will have the opportunity to follow Smuts Track up to Maclear’s Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain and continue a short distance to take the Ariel Cableway car down to Tafelberg Road on the other side of Table Mountain.
We chose to return down Skelton gorge and returned to the Botanical Gardens where we finished our hike with a meal and delicious cocktails full of fresh strawberries. It’s a beautiful place to rest and enjoy all the amazing smells from the different plants and flowers.
Remember to take plenty of water, snacks, sunscreen as the sun can get hot. Also bring extra layers to prepare for the very possible change in weather.
3. Cape of Good Hope Trail, Cape town
Went to Cape Point lighthouse and walked over to cape of good hope. Met some baboons, scary fuckers. Grey dreary day but warm. Looked like the burren. Loads of tourists landed,
Drove in the entrance of Cape Point Park? And paid the entry fee of ?rand. Drove up the path to the lighthouse walked up passed the short tram route. There is a wooden boardwalk joining the two points. The rugged coastline has tall cliffs 200 metres above sea level. Cape Point is part of Table Mountain National Park.
Don’t miss: Went for dinner in a Cuban restaurant in Kalk bay looking over the Harbour. Thought we’d see a sunset or a moonrise but we didn’t, we were too tired to have any craic or be there any longer than we had to so left and went to bed.
Start: Cape Point main parking area. Follow signs towards Cape of Good Hope.
Distance: +-3.5km, 2-3 hours.
This trail is fairly easy and great to do with friends and family. The well-maintained boardwalk takes you to the famous Cape of Good Hope sign, a spot for selfies.
The path is popular for its killer views over Diaz Beach and its natural western shoreline. Make your way to the very end of the trail, and you’ll have reached the most southern point of the Cape Peninsula, a perfect photo opportunity to prove that you’ve visited the most South Western corner of Africa.
4. Chapmans Peak Hike
Duration: 3 Hours, Difficulty: Easy, Route Type: Out and Back Distance: 5km
Hiking to the top of Chapmans Peak from the Hout Bay side is nothing but rewarding. All-in-all this is quite an easy hike, and with it being tucked away in the corner of Hout Bay it doesn’t get as many visitors as some of the more popular hikes in Cape Town. The Chapmans Peak hiking trail shouldn’t take you more than 3 hours to complete and if it does, it’s probably because you just can’t stop admiring the views!
To get going on this trail you will need to head through Hout Bay and up Chapmans Peak drive past the toll gates. Don’t be alarmed, you won’t need to pay any fees as you won’t be going all the way through. When you reach the toll gate simply ask for a picnic / day pass.
Once you’re in through the toll you’ll need to head all the way to the final corner where the day pass turn-around point is, just before the main view point. This is where you’ll start your walk.
The trails starts off with a steady incline, heading up a small open river valley. This stretch is especially fun on the way down if you want to test your eye-foot co-ordination! Once at the top you’ll find yourself at a bit of a cross roads which can cause a bit of confusion to some. The path to Chapmans Peak heads to the right and almost completely back tracks on the valley you’ve just come up. From here on out the trail is fairly flat with minor inclines along the way.
It’s strongly advised that you bring a hat along as there is almost no shade for the length of the trail and can be quite de-hydrating in the summer. Navigating around the shoulder of lower Chapmans Peak you will eventually come to the saddle allowing you to see over into the Noordhoek valley for the first time.
From this point on you have about a 10 – 20 minute climb until you reach the summit. Reaching the top of Chapmans Peak is simply breath-taking. The views extend right over to Fish Hoek on one side and all of Hout Bay on the other. Find yourself a nice perch and soak up the panoramic views!
See four stunning hikes on the Garden Route