Spring has finally sprung and it is time to dust off your walking shoes. If you are an outdoor nerd (like myself) these hikes around Cape Town is definitely for you.
As a resident of the Western Cape, I am very fortunate to have nature as my playground. Our backyard is filled to the brim with adventure and breathtaking places to explore.
Before we get to the good stuff (now I am going to sound like my mother, #sorrynotsorry) – remember these hiking basics:
A hat for your noggin’, sunglasses, a water bottle, a bathing suit (for refreshing dips – I prefer to wear mine underneath my hiking wear), good walking shoes are a must, SPF is your friend and lip balm (especially for a windy day).
1. Keeping it close to home: Stellenbosch Nature Reserve
Situated near the historic town of Stellenbosch, the reserve offers four hiking trails.
The most popular one (and one of my favourites) is probably the hike to the Tweede Waterval that takes approximately 2 hours to complete. It is quite a drive into the reserve before the big climb starts, so drive slowly and appreciate the scenery and fantastic fynbos on your way in.
Some of the paths are very steep and can be slippery when wet, so tread carefully and don’t be fooled. When you finally reach the second waterfall, you will want to high-five yourself – if the beautiful pool surrounded by indigenous trees or the narrow gorge leading up to the waterfall lined with green moss and ferns doesn’t lure you in, then I don’t know!
Remember to keep an eye out for little animal friends like frogs, lizards and sunbirds along the way.
The other hikes you can choose from at the reserve are the Swartboskloof Trail, which ascends to the top of Kurktrekkernek and then back down past a waterfall (where you can take a revitalizing dip). There’s also the Swartboskloof to Sosyskloof hike, which is a bit more easygoing, and then the Panorama Circuit hike.
You need a permit before you can access any of the trails.
Acquire your permit at the reserve’s office (right at the entrance) or send them an email.
COST: R40 Adults | R20 Children
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org | 021 483 0190
LOCATION: Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Jonkershoek Road, Stellenbosch
2. Steenbras Nature Reserve: Crystal Pools
This half-day hike takes up most of your day – so make sure you have plenty of snacks, water and energy to sustain yourself throughout your hike.
You will tread on mostly wobbly and rocky terrain; however, the hike is not too difficult and mostly on a flat area. It is highly recommended to cool down in the rock pools that are dotted along the way, and right at the top you’ll be rewarded by a beautiful waterfall that feeds into the Steenbras River.
This hike is only open from 1 November to 30 April every year. Remember to save their emergency number on your phone before you go: 021 957 4725.
COST: R65 Per Person
CONTACT: email@example.com | 021 444 6927
Bookings must be done via email, at least two working days before your visit.
LOCATION: Faure Marine Drive R44, Steenbras Nature Reserve
3. Tafelberg Mountain National Park: The Historical Pipe Track
If you like walking, but you’re not up for a big hike, The Pipe Track is your answer.
The track is named after the pipeline that runs next to the track and was built in 1887 for the purpose to supply a 19th-century Cape Town with water – carrying water from the Table Mountain reservoirs to the City of Cape Town.
The route takes you along the Atlantic Ocean with beautiful views of Camps Bay and Lion’s Head. When you reach Slangolie Ravine, you’ll have to start retracing your steps back along the way that you came. Or you can end the hike via the Camps Bay Pipe Track entrance.
It is advised that you do not take any of the trails that lead off the track, unless you’re with a knowledgeable guide.
This hike takes approximately four hours and starts at the junction of Tafelberg and Kloof Nek.
Save the following emergency numbers before you go: 086 110 6417/ 107 and 021 480 7700.
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org | 021 712 0527
LOCATION: Table Mountain National Park
4. Full Moon Hike: Lions Head at night
One of the city’s most popular hiking trails is undeniably the Full Moon Lions Head hike, where the Mother City sparkles like a dancing queen under the moonlight.
If we are not that familiar with the city, Lions Head is the distinctive-shaped mountain you find to one side of Table Mountain – the one that looks like a delighted Lion overlooking the city, the ocean at his feet. So come along, pack your picnic basket (and that bottle of wine) and enjoy life with some of your favourite people.
The trail begins at Signal Hill Road and follows up to a section just below the summit where you can climb to the top with the help of the famous chains and ladder section. There is also a longer alternative path to reach the summit – if you don’t feel as adventurous.
Top tip: Start the hike early so that you can reach the top well ahead of sunset (I’d say roundabout 16:00).
This way you will experience the best of both worlds with the sun setting over the sea and the moon rising over the mountains. Remember to also look out for the highest concentration of Silver Trees along the route, which are endemic to the Cape Peninsula.
This hike will take you approximately three hours.
CONTACT: email@example.com | 021 712 0527
LOCATION: Lion’s Head, Table Mountain National Park
5. Tygerberg Nature Reserve
The best escape from the northern suburbs’ hustle and bustle is most definitely a hike through Tygerberg Nature Reserve. The hike does not only offer spectacular views of the city, mountains and sea, but is also pleasantly packed with a rich diversity of plants and birds.
One of the things I really appreciate about the reserve is that the network of walking routes also include a wheelchair-friendly trail – situated close to the picnic area.
The trails on this hike are marked very well and offers the opportunity to climb up hills for panoramic views of Cape Town. You will also be able to spot Table Mountain and Robben Island from this viewpoint – and on a clear, sunny day you’ll even be able to see the False Bay coastline.
COST: R15 Adults | R8 Under 18’s, Senior Citizens & Students
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org | 021 444 8971
LOCATION: Tygerberg Nature Reserve, Totius Road, Welgemoed
6. Hidden Gem: Woodstock Cave
Have you ever spotted the crack in the mountain from De Waal drive?
This cave is basically an open invitation for exploration and can be reached from Tafelberg Road and Rhodes Memorial. Not only will you have expansive views of the city, but also plant life in abundance. For this one you need to take your camera (or phone) – because have you ever noticed how super photogenic fynbos is?
There have been muggings in the area, (and here is that mother of mine’s voice one last time) so never hike alone and be responsible.
LOCATION: Woodstock Cave (You can park in the last parking area, past the cable station, on Tafelberg road on Table Mountain and approach the cave this way)
Life surely is a climb – but it is totally worth the view!
Do you have any favourite outdoor spots in or around the Mother City? Please tell us about them.
You know what they say – sharing is caring 😉