Cape Town is a hiker’s dream city with a huge range of trails to explore. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a complete beginner, there will be a place for you to enjoy the great outdoors and get out of your comfort zone.
Lace up your boots and let’s go…
Let’s start with one of our personal favourites. Lion’s Head is one of the most popular hikes in the city, loved by locals and travellers alike, and even made Nat Geo’s list of the world’s most thrilling hikes. When you get to the top, you’ll see why – the magnificent views stretch across the whole of Cape Town, from Camp’s Bay all the way over the Atlantic Ocean to Robben Island. The hike has some slightly challenging parts but it is suitable for beginners and takes about 2 hours. We love to pack a head torch, get a group together and head to the summit for sunset. It’s the perfect place to share a cool beer with new found friends (and get some seriously Instagram-worthy travel snaps from the top).
Want to go chasing waterfalls? Then head to Crystal Pools, located just outside of Gordon’s Bay in the Kogelbay Biosphere. The hike takes you up to the impressive Steenbras River waterfall. Be sure to pack your swimming costume as this picturesque route is punctuated by pools where you can jump in and cool off. For adrenaline seekers, this is also a great spot for kloofing – that is, jumping off the rocks into the pools below. If that sounds like something that is up your street, then you should do the route with a guide – we offer kloofing as an activity so just let us know if you want to go kloofing on your trip to Cape Town!
CAPE POINT TO CAPE OF GOOD HOPE
See a stunning section of the South African coastline when you take the trail from Cape Point to the Cape of Good Hope. This unforgettable – and surprisingly easy – hike showcases the dramatic landscape surrounding the area with views over Diaz Beach and across the ocean. At the end of the trail, you will see the famous Cape of Good Hope sign to let you know that you have reached the most southern point of the Cape Peninsula.
Visiting Cape Point is a must-do on your Cape Town itinerary – check out our tours to plan your visit.
JONKERSHOEK NATURE RESERVE
Lying south of Stellenbosch in the rolling Winelands region, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to four main hiking trails. The Panorama trail is the longest and most strenuous of the four, offering hikers breathtaking views across the Jonkershoek valley. It’s a hugely diverse route that makes for a real adventure with rivers, forests and waterfalls to be found along the way, all framed by rugged mountain peaks and cliffs. The 17km circular route can be hiked in both directions and takes around 8 hours.
The third of Cape Town’s famous three peaks that form the outline of the city bowl, Devil’s Peak stands at 1000 metres above sea level and offers numerous vantage points from which to view the cityscape. Beginners should take the Tafelberg Road route while more experienced hikers can ascend via the Mowbray Ridge route which starts at the Rhodes Memorial.
All routes converge at the Saddle – the stretch of mountain which connects Devil’s Peak to Table Mountain – where the exhilarating ascent to the summit begins. The trail can be quite challenging and takes about 4 hours to complete. At the top, you’ll be rewarded with a 360° view of Cape Town from a perspective that most visitors don’t get to see.
In case you were wondering, the mountain earned its attention-grabbing name from a legend about a pipe smoking Dutch pirate named Jan Van Hunks. We won’t ruin the story for you – just ask any Cape Town local and you can bet they know the tale.
CHAPMAN’S PEAK TRAIL
If you take a trip out to Cape Point during your time in Cape Town, you will experience the famous Chapman’s Peak drive – one of the world’s most scenic roads and one of the city’s most popular landmarks. But if you want to do something a little different, you can go one further and hike the mountain itself. Known as ‘Chappies’ to the locals, this is a relatively easy hike that only takes 2 hours to the summit. Once you reach the top, you will be greeted by incredible views of the Atlantic Ocean and the villages of Hout Bay and Fish Hoek.
CONSTANTIA NEK TO KIRSTENBOSCH
For a more relaxed hiking experience, this two-hour trail is a great way to start the day. Beginning in Constantia Nek, you will pass through scenic Newlands Forest, see the slopes of Table Mountain and even gaze across the Cape Flats. The entire route is about six kilometres long, taking around 2 hours to complete, and ends in the tranquil Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Be sure to pack a picnic or plan to have breakfast at the onsite restaurant.
We couldn’t give a rundown of Cape Town’s best hiking spots without mentioning the mountain that defines our city.
Platteklip Gorge is the most direct route to the summit, taking about 3 hours to complete. It’s by far the most popular route but don’t be fooled – just because this is the fastest route doesn’t mean it’s the easiest. The steep ascent requires a moderate level of fitness but the views at the top are more than worth it (and you can take the cable car down – win!).
Another option is Skeleton Gorge which starts off in Kirstenbosch Gardens and takes you all the way to Maclear’s Beacon – the highest point on the mountain. This is a more challenging route with ladders and a rockfall to overcome, taking experienced hikers around 5 hours to complete.
Feeling inspired? If you’re still not sure which hike is right for you, come see us at reception or drop us an email before your stay and we can point you in the right direction! Check out our rooms to plan your trip.