The Western Cape is a wonderland for hikers. From those who’ll gladly spend a Saturday trekking through vast stretches of the Cape wilderness to those who prefer a nice stroll with friends and a lovely view, all are spoilt for choice when it comes to the Mother City’s variety of hiking spots. Check out our top recommendations below then sign up for one of these hiking groups for meet-ups and hiking adventures every week.
1. Lion’s Head
No one in Cape Town can call themselves a hiker if they haven’t been up Lion’s Head. It is, after all, a landmark that offers a 360-degree view from its summit. At almost 700 meters high, you can see the City Bowl, the Atlantic Seaboard, Robben Island and more of Table Mountain National Park. And while this might make it seem like the perfect place to hike during the day, the regular full moon hikes held here are just as spectacular. Hikes up Lion’s Head are usually one hour to 90 minutes long. Children are permitted but may encounter difficulties in some areas.
2. Silvermine Nature Reserve
The Silvermine Nature Reserve features numerous hiking trails but its most popular is the Elephant’s Eye Cave Hike, a beginner-friendly trail in the Constantiaberg mountain range whose destination offers tremendous views of False Bay and the Cape Flats. There’s also the Silvermine River Walk, which takes you to the Silvermine Reservoir where you can reward yourself with a swim, and the three-hour Noordhoek Circuit with views of Noordhoek Valley and Long Beach along the way. You can also try conquering Steenberg Peak if you’re up for a challenge.
WhenSilvermine Gate 1: Daily 7 am – 6 pm during summer; Silvermine Gate 2: Daily 8 am – 6 pm throughout the year
Where Off Ou Kaapse Weg, between Fish Hoek and the Southern Suburbs
Cost Adults R50, Children R25
Contact +27 21 780 9002/+27 21 712 7471, sanparks.org
3. Jonkershoek Nature Reserve
If you’re staying anywhere in or near Stellenbosch, Jonkershoek Nature Reserve offers two easy and two challenging hikes. The two short trails are the Swartboskloof to Sosyskloof hike (5.3 km or 6.9 km, depending on the route you take) and the Tweede Waterval hike (6.4 km), which takes you along the Eeerste River. The Panorama Circuit and Swartboskloof Trail are a whopping 17 and 18 km respectively! Both involve some steep climbing up mountainous areas located in the reserve but you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with incredible panoramic views of the Cape.
4. Delvera Farm
Also held in Stellenbosch is the Falke Full Moon Hike. This regular event is offered by Dirtopia, an outdoor event and trail construction company, and is sponsored by footwear specialists Falke South Africa. Taking place at Delvera Farm, the 9.75 km hike allows you to gaze over the Cape Peninsula as you trek through vineyards and a yellowwood forest to reach the top of Klapmutskop, part of the Simonsberg Conservancy. Here you can enjoy snacks while gazing at the full moon. The hike is for people of all ages, with children and elderly hikers given transport to the start of the shorter 4.5 km route.
5. The Pipe Track Trail
The Pipe Track is probably one of Cape Town’s most popular hiking trails. Starting at the Kloof Nek end of Tafelberg Road, it takes you along the Twelve Apostles section of Table Mountain. The Pipe Track is a moderately easy hike, with several points at which you can stop for a while and catch some beautiful views. Perhaps the most rewarding vistas are those of Lion’s Head, Camps Bay and Bakoven at the end of the hike. Note that the trail is quite secluded so it’s best not to hike alone.
When Various times
Where Table Mountain National Park, Off Tafelberg Road, CBD
Contact +27 21 712 0527, sanparks.org
6. Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden
The Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden is a perfectly serene location for a hike – and there are so many trails to choose from! The 15-minute Braille Trail and 30-minute Boekenhout Trail are perfect for those who’d like just a brief stroll. The Stinkwood Forest Trail is longer but equally easy on the intensity scale, while the Yellowwood and Silvertree Trails are moderately difficult, taking two hours and three to four hours respectively. Last, but certainly not least, are the two most challenging trails: the four-hour Nursery Ravine hike which takes you straight up Table Mountain; and the Smuts Track up Skeleton Gorge, dangerous in wet weather, and made slightly easier with a few ropes and ladders. It’s recommended that you take a map of Table Mountain along with you.
When Monday to Sunday 8 am– 7 pm (September to March), 8 am – 6 pm (April to August)
Where Rhodes Drive, Newlands
Cost R15 – R60 for visitors aged six and upwards, free for visitors under six
Contact +27 21 799 8783, [email protected], sanbi.org
7. Constantia Green Belt
You can find a variety of simple hiking spots in the Constantia Green Belt, many of them family- and dog-friendly. One of the most popular is the Alphen Trail, part of which takes you along the Diep River (which has its own hiking trail) to the Constantiaberg Mountain. There’s also the Doordrift Walk that starts in the same place (Alphen Drive) but leads in the other direction. Alternatively, you can mosey in and around the De Hel Nature Area; go on the tree-lined Brommersvlei Walk; or hike along the Grootboschkloof, Klaasenbosch, Silverhurst and Spaanschemat River Trails.
When Various Times
Where Constantia Greenbelt and Forest, Le Sueur Ave, Constantia Heights
Contact +27 76 742 5366, [email protected]/[email protected], constantiavalley.com
Photography Gareth van Nelson/HMimages.co.za, Alexandra Dunsford-White, Archives