It’s a new year and all over the world, people are promising themselves “New Year, New Me.” Whether it’s because they may have over-indulged a little bit over the holidays or there’s a fitness goal they want to achieve in 2020, gyms are packed at this time of year.
As any fitness fanatic will tell you, very few of these “new you” resolutions make it beyond February. But if you’re really serious about a “New Year, New You”, how about something a little different and a whole lot cheaper than a gym membership?
Cape Town is known for its magnificent hiking trails. The city is hugged by mountains all around, with ravines, rugged cliffs, forests, waterfalls, and of course the spectacular ocean views. What’s not to love? While the steep climbs, scary heights, and strenuous exercise may not be that appealing for those who aren’t super fit, there are easier alternatives.
Luckily, Briony Brookes, Communications and PR manager for Cape Town Tourism, explains that there are a number of really easy hikes to try out. So if you’re just getting started on your fitness journey or just want to take it easy, here are five beginner hikes to try out.
But before any hike, Brookes says, make sure you read up about hiking safety tips. Most importantly, never hike alone (groups of four or more are recommended). Make sure you have a charged phone with you, tell someone where you’re going and what time you expect to be back, and avoid hiking in foggy or wet weather.
1. The Pipe Track, Table Mountain
The Pipe Track is one of the easiest Table Mountain hikes. It’s a fair distance, at 6km (3.7m), but it’s fairly level apart from a few stone steps. The walk starts at the corner of Tafelberg Road and Kloof Nek. Park at Kloof Nek, and then head up the stairs with the fence on your left. After a short climb, you’ll reach the signpost at the base of Kasteelspoort. Here, you’ll find a map of the trails. Follow the Pipe Track and you’ll be treated to some stunning views of Camps Bay, Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll also pass through some beautiful ravines. There are plenty of great places to stop for a water break and to admire the views.
Time: About two hours each way (four hours total).
Distance: About 6km
Difficulty: At 6km, it’s a fairly long walk, but most of the terrain is flat. It may be a bit tough for younger kids, but is a good introductory hike for novices.
Best time of day: Mornings, when there are other hikers around and the path is shady.
2. Kloof Corner, Table Mountain
Kloof Corner is by far the easiest hike on Table Mountain. It’s short, simple, and offers amazing views, especially considering how little climbing you have to do! It’s fantastic for sunsets, overlooking Lion’s Head and the whole of Table Bay. Drive toward the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway but park at the bottom of Tafelberg Road. From here, you can take the signposted path to the Kloof Corner. It’s under a kilometre (0.6m) up, so it’s suitable for people of any level and age. The path is quite steep, but it’s only 20 minutes to the top.
Time: About 20 minutes each way (under an hour total) .
Difficulty: It’s quite steep but short, and is a good hike for kids and beginners alike.
Best time of day: Sunset, when there are more people around.
3. Newlands Forest, Newlands
Newlands Forest is a great option for beginners and kids because the trails are shady and you can choose how far you go. There are loads of trails and the magical pine forest atmosphere appeals to kids. You’ll find plenty of runners, families, and dog-walkers here throughout the day. The map below shows the hike up to the Breakfast Rock at the Saddle, which can be pretty tough-going but is rewarding for the views. Alternately, take the contour path, or just walk as far as you feel comfortable going. Choose your own adventure through the shady forest and have fun exploring! Just pay attention to the paths you choose, as forest hikes can get a little disorienting.
Time: About 2-3 hours to Breakfast Rock, if you choose that route.
Distance: About 7km to Breakfast Rock.
Difficulty: Entirely up to you! Go as far or as high as you feel you can; it’s a satisfying walk/hike either way.
Best time of day: Any time is good, but stick to peak times for safety (mornings and after work or weekends).
4. Cape of Good Hope Trail, Cape Point Nature Reserve
The Cape of Good Hope trail at Cape Point Nature Reserve takes you along a well-maintained and marked boardwalk towards the famous Cape of Good Hope sign, located on the rocky shoreline far below. The trail is popular for its accessibility and unsurpassed views over the pristine Diaz Beach and rugged western shoreline. Make your way all the 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.
Time: Two to three hours return.
Distance: About 3.5km
Best time of day: Mornings and late afternoons during cooler temperatures.