Lions Head Closed Till 14th February

It is the most-hiked mountain in Cape Town. Lion’s Head is a popular spot for both novice and expert hikers. You can use the meandering spiral trail to the top, or challenge yourself with the chains guiding you straight up to the summit. It’s estimated that more than 200 000 people hike Lion’s Head every year.

Being such a popular mountain, it’s bound to take its toll on nature. If you are a regular climber of Lion’s Head, you’d better squeeze in as many visits as possible before the 7th of January 2019. The trail will be closed till the 15th of February 2019.

Lion’s Head Trail Improved for Your Benefit

The decision to close the trail for upgrades was made after a Trail Audit Report completed in 2017. SANParks (South African National Parks) took the findings into consideration and started on the upgrades.

These upgrades serve a few purposes. Firstly, both Lion’s Head and Signal Hill need to be protected environmentally. Together with this factor, the Lion’s Head route must be preserved for as long as possible. Lastly, hiker safety is of the utmost importance. The mountain has claimed many lives over the years, even though it’s a relatively easy hike (it’s rated A to A+) But because it’s so easily accessible, many people underestimate it and often don’t prepare properly for the hike.

After the Trail Audit Report submitted to the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) management, a phased upgrade implementation started. First off, minor upgrades included closing down unauthorised pathways and desire lines, and adding better directional signage for hikers to follow the official trails. TMNP also completed assessing the climbing infrastructure along the trail for certification.

Related: What You Need to Know About Hiking Up Lion’s Head For the Full Moon

But the next upgrade phase is more elaborate. It focuses on addressing issues identified by the Trail Audit Report as well as TMNP’s own assessments for trail certification. With the maintenance in progress, SANParks can’t guarantee that hikers will be safe on the trail. Because of this factor, they have decided to temporarily close the entire trail.

This means that hikers and runners will not be able to use the track entrance from Signal Hill Drive. The restriction applies to access before sunrise and after sunset. But Signal Hill will still be open as a public view point.

Upgrades to Lion’s Head Spiral Trail

SANParks feel that the next phase of the upgrade process is a much-needed intervention. The Trail Audit Report assessed the footpath network of both Lion’s Head and Signal Hill. These hiking routes are national treasures. We should conserve them for as long as possible.

After receiving the report, the TMNP management started planning the implementation of the upgrades, starting with the least disruptive upgrades before closing down the spiral trail for such a long period. These upgrades will be beneficial to everyone fond of the mountain, prolonging the enjoyment of it while increasing the safety.

For more information contact Table Mountain National SANPark:
Mathabatha Matjila 021 422 1601 | Mathabatha.Matjila@Sanparks.org

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Where To See The Wild Flowers In Cape Town West Coast

Each spring the Western Cape is transformed into a wildflower wonderland. For a few weeks from about mid-August till end-September the landscape is scattered with beautifully coloured blooms. They last until the deadly summer heat descends and turn the hills into plain brown fields.

On a clear, sunny day you can drive a short distance out of Cape Town to be mesmerized by nature’s own art gallery. The following are a few of the best spots around the city to go hunt the natural beauty. On an overcast day the flowers will hide their pretty faces, so best to travel when the sun is out.

#1 Kirstenbosch

Distance: about 20 minutes from the city centre

This is the easiest option to see the flowers. Nestled against the Eastern slopes of Table Mountain, this amazing botanical garden will take your breath away. The 36-hectare garden is the first in the world that is specifically dedicated to indigenous flora.

It is also ranked no. 6 on National Geographic’s list of Top 10 Picnic Spots in the world. Take in the splendour of pincushion proteas, Daisies, and of course the famous fynbos. Hike up to the Boomslang to view the spring display from a higher vantage point.

Entry fee: R65 (adults) | R35 (South African students with valid student card)

R15 (children, 6 – 17 years) | Free (children, 0 – 6 years; BotSoc members on presentation of membership card)

Free on Tuesdays (South African senior citizens with valid ID, except on public holidays)

#2 Postberg And West Coast National Park

Distance: about 1 hour and 50 minutes

The West Coast National Park is a popular destination every year for flower hunters. During the peak flower months of August and September, the Postberg area is open for the most amazing undisturbed floral display. You will be greeted by magriets, sporries, and Daisies.

While driving through the park, look out for tortoises and snakes crossing the road, plus zebra and buck lazily grazing. You can explore the area by car, on foot, or with a mountain bike.

Fun fact: walk in the footsteps of Eve, a young woman reported to have lived in the area 117 000 years ago. The Eve’s Trail is a special two-and-a-half-day hike meandering through the park.

Entry fee: During flower season, August – September.

R76 (SA citizens and residents with ID) | R38 (children)

#3 The Renosterveld Reserve

Distance: Around 1 hour

This area you can explore for free. It is located above the Darling Primary School. The 20-hectare flower reserve offers you endless fields of spring flowers including vygies, kapokbos, bellendini, and renosterbos. Keep an eye out for the cute little red-bellied tortoises. It’s also a great spot for bird-watching. There is a circular hiking route that you can follow around the reserve.

Fun fact: The Versveld family donated the land to the community in 1958.

#4 Tienie Versfeld Wildflower Reserve

Distance: about 1 hour and 10 minutes

You can also stop at this reserve for free. It’s located on the R315 on the way to Darling. The varying topography makes it perfect for a wide range of flowers. You can see about 10% of the Cape Floral Kingdom in one go here. Enjoy the beautiful chincherinchee, lachenalia, and Butterfly lilies. The area is also great for game-spotting, bird-watching, hiking, and picnics.

Fun fact: the reserve was named after Oom Tienie or Marthinus Versveld who donated a part of his farm to create the reserve.

#5 Harold Porter Botanical Garden

Distance: about 1 hour and 30 minutes

This one is located on the side of the Cape Town coastline, towards Hermanus. Travel on the N2 and take the R44 to find this mesmerizing garden. Tucked away between mountains and the beach, it has stunning little waterfalls and pools to explore. Perfect for a leisurely Saturday or Sunday outing!

Fun zigzag paths were created by the garden’s namesake, Harold Porter. The expansive garden has all things indigenous to marvel at including orchids, daisies, and stunning proteas. While you’re in the area, stop at the penguin colony close by. If you’re lucky you might also spot a whale.

Entry fee: R25 (adults) | R15 (seniors and students with a valid student card)

R10 (children, 7 – 17 years) | Free (children, 0 – 6 and BotSoc members)

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Top 5 Hiking Routes Up Table Mountain Sunrise

If you are a hiking enthusiast, a hike up Table Mountain is a must-do bucket list item. But don’t be fooled by the accessibility of the mountain, it is still a force to be reckoned with. Always tackle the mountain with a group of friends, and make sure you are prepared. Read our post Top Five Hiking Groups in Cape Town with hiking tips at the end.

Ascending the Mighty Mountain

Another great option to consider, is only hiking one way, and using the cableway to complement your experience. Hike up and take the cableway down. Alternatively, take the cableway up and hike down again. This is a safer option if you are still building up your hiking fitness.

Please note: all hiking times are calculated one way and dependent on fitness level, break times, and length of route.

#1 The Pipe Track

This route is perfect for beginners or if you want a more relaxed outing. It doesn’t go up all the way, but circles around the mountain. The easier hike offers you magnificent views of both Lion’s Head and the Atlantic Ocean.

The starting point is from the lowest parking lot on Tafelberg Road. There are concrete stairs located to the right of the parking lot, towards the Twelve Apostles on Camps Bay side. You can turn back whenever you want, the route meanders to the Corridor Ravine for roughly 6 km.

Hiking time: 1.5 – 3 hours

Map view

#2 Platteklip Gorge

Top 5 Hiking Routes Up Table Mountain Platteklip

It’s one of the most popular routes up the mountain. The route starts out zig-zagging, in a stair-like manner. Get ready to take lots of epic pictures on the beautiful trail. This route is a good option for both beginner and more advanced hikers.

The starting point is on Tafelberg Road at the top, past the Cableway station. Keep driving until you spot the Platteklip sign with parking close by. Once you start hiking, keep to the left until you see the sign pointing to the Platteklip turnoff. The zig-zag route will take you up to the ravine. At the top you can continue on the route towards the right to reach the top of the mountain.

Hiking time: 1.5 – 3 hours

Map view

Related: in-depth info about hiking Table Mountain

#3 Woodstock Caves

This large cave offers you a great view of Woodstock and the surrounding areas. It is a nice family-friendly hike, not too strenuous. Pack a nice picnic and stop to admire the view from the shady area next to the small waterfall.

The first starting point option is from Tafelberg Road. Continue driving past the Cableway station and look out for the Woodstock Cave route sign. There is parking close by, but sometimes this road is closed. The other starting point option is from the Rhodes Memorial, hiking up towards the King’s Blockhouse. As the Blockhouse road forks, keep to the left. The next fork to the right will take you towards the Cableway.

Hiking time: 1.5 – 2 hours starting from Tafelberg Road, 2 – 3 hours starting from Rhodes Memorial.

Map view

 

#4 Skeleton Gorge

This is another one of the most popular routes up the mountain. Start in a forest and end with epic panoramic views. Beware, even though it’s only 3km long, it’s a tough hike. But breaking a sweat will be worth it. Take snacks and stop at Breakfast Rock or chill on the “beach” at Hely-Hutchinson reservoir, with its reddish turf. Just resist the urge to swim in the reservoir.

The starting point is located in the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden (entrance fee required) You’ll be hiking over the back of Table Mountain. This route’s first part is shaded, for a moment you will feel like you’ve been transported to some distant jungle. Once you reach the top, breath-taking views will greet you. If your knees feel too wobbly for the climb down, follow the signs to Maclear’s Beacon towards the cableway. On your way you’ll past the highest point on Table Mountain, 1 086 metres above sea level. Circle back through Skeleton Gorge or Nursery Ravine to end in the botanical gardens again. Or alternatively take Platteklip Gorge down.

Hiking time: 2 – 4 hours

Map view

#5 Kasteelspoort

This is a great option if you want a calmer route, with less congestion. Take on the mighty mountain from the Camp’s Bay side. The route offers beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean. Admire the Twelve Apostles, Lion’s Head, and even on a clear day Robben Island. A morning climb is a great choice on a hot day, utilising the mountain shade. Look out for the “diving board”, on the summit to your right. Perfect spot for a memorable Cape Town Instagram pic. But don’t attempt it on a windy day.

top-5-hiking-trails-table-mountain-tim-johnson-unsplash

Interesting titbit: look out for old cableway remnants. The route was used to carry supplies up for construction of dams in the 1800s.

There are two starting point options. If you start from the Pipe Track, it will add about an extra hour to your hike. Or park in Theresa Road to walk up the Jeep track towards the Pipe Track. Turn left on the Pipe Track to reach the Kasteelspoort turn-off. On top of the mountain you can hike for about an hour on your way to the Cableway for an alternative option down.

Hiking time: 2 – 4 hours

Map view

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There are many hidden gems in Table Mountain. One of which is a series of interlinking deep and narrow slits and fractures between rocks called the Tranquility Cracks. The Tranquility Cracks are considered one of Cape Town’s best-kept secrets.

Cape Town, Western Cape

Photo Caption: Can you #guesswhere this photo was taken from? You need to know #capetown pretty well, but the clue is in the distinctive mountain peak….

Looking for people to go hiking with or trying to get outdoors more often? Read our latest post on the top 5 hiking groups in Cape Town.  📷 by Dibert Theron from @unsplash. #mountain #hiking #capetownhiking #12appostles #secretcapetown #guesswherecapetown #mountainview

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top 5 hiking groups in cape town Llandudno Tim Johnson

Some things are just more fun when you do it with a group of people. And when it comes to hiking, it is also much safer in a group. Joining a hiking group is also a great way to meet new people. Nature lovers in Cape Town unite almost every weekend to explore the many wonders found a mere stone’s throw away from central Cape Town.

Fun Hiking Groups in Cape Town

Whether you are looking for a challenging hike, or simply a leisurely stroll, one of these hiking groups in Cape Town will have the right partners that will want to explore with you. If none of the options below catch your fancy, there are some more niche hiking groups in Cape Town on meetup.com.

https://www.meetup.com/topics/hiking/za/cape_town/

#1 Meridian Hiking Group

meridian.org.za

This is a great option for a family-orientated hike. The Meridian Hiking Group was founded in 1989 and over the years it has remained an exclusive group of passionate hikers. At the moment, the group consists of just over 200 members. Although exclusive, they are always willing to welcome a new hiking enthusiast.

Based in Cape Town, they regularly arrange free hikes you can join, as well as scheduled weekends away and special conservation activities. Fill in the membership form to join and keep an eye on their calendar to stay in the loop with upcoming weekend trail hikes.

hiking-groups-12-apostels-cape-town

Photo by Christian Perner

#2 Cape Union Mart Hiking Club

cumhike.co.za

This group is great for all fitness levels. You can choose the hiking intensity level according to what you feel comfortable with. Joining the Cape Union Mart Hiking Club is a great way to systematically challenge yourself to attempt more advanced hikes. They schedule more than 120 hikes a year, each fascilitated by one of their 20 experienced hike leaders.

Founded in 1991 they have just over 300 dedicated members. They schedule both weekday and weekend hikes. From a simple stroll in the fresh air, to a challenging hike that will leave you huffing and puffing, you will find something to fit your mood. Bookings can be made via their website or a direct email.

hiking groups-cape-town-kloof-corner-steps-path-tim-johnson-unsplash

Photo by Tim Johnson

#3 Mountain Club of South Africa

mcsacapetown.co.za

This countrywide organisation caters for people passionate about all things outdoors. From hiking, to rock climbing and bouldering, to mountaineering. By joining the organisation, you will gain access to exclusive hiking opportunities. The Cape Town Section was founded in 1891. They host over 200 activities each year, ranging from basic to advance hiking trails.

The MCSA is a non-profit organisation, dedicated to offering nature lovers access to the best hiking opportunities across the country. The Cape Town Section is the oldest club. Visit their website for more information about the process to become a member.

#4 Table Mountain Treks and Tours

tablemountaintrekstours.com

Unfortunately, each year there are numerous hiking accidents on Table Mountain. With its convenient access, situated in the heart of the city, many people misjudge the intensity of the hikes. There are various trails leading up the mountain, ranging from beginner to advance routes.

If you are a hiking novice, it’s best to join a group of hikers with a professional guide. Table Mountain Treks and Tours offer tours up Table Mountain, as well as other nearby hiking spots. These include Hoerikwaggo Trail, Lion’s Head, Platteklip Gorge, India Venster, Maclear’s Beacon and Echo Valley, Kasteelspoort, Skeleton Gorge, Devil’s Peak, Chapman’s Peak, Shipwreck Trail, and Noordhoek Peak. You can also schedule a private tour with them to other Western Cape areas.

lionshead-dusy-hiking-cape-town

Photo by Crystal Mah

#5 Hiking Cape Town

Hiking Cape Town Facebook Group

This is by far one of the most popular hiking groups in Cape Town, with over 6 000 members. Hikers of all fitness levels are welcome to join. Explore the mountains and rivers of the amazing Mother City with fellow nature lovers.

Hiking Cape Town hosts regular planned hikes. But you can keep an eye on the Facebook group for more spontaneously organised hikes as well.

Tips for Hiking in Cape Town

Firstly, Cape Town is infamous for offering you four seasons in one day. So always make sure you are prepared for almost any type of weather. Even in high summer, there can suddenly be a chill in the air from the wind factor. Especially when you reach the top of Table Mountain, 1 085m above sea level.

  • Never hike alone. If possible, aim for at least a group of four people.
  • Make sure you pick a route that is suitable for the fitness level, experience, and ability of the whole group.
  • Inform someone of your hiking schedule for the day, including routes and the time you expect to return.
  • Be prepared for bad weather. Take weatherproof clothing along, torches, proper hiking shoes, enough water, flask with warm beverage, and a big rucksack to fit everything so that your hands and arms are free at all times.
  • It’s best if someone in the group is familiar with the route. Alternatively, take a paper map or guidebook along. Don’t assume you can rely on cell phone signal.
  • Stick to the straightforward and well-used paths. If possible, rather use the same route back down, especially on your first hike on a new route. Don’t ignore danger signs and resist the urge to take short cuts through unfamiliar ravines.
  • Before starting your hike, decide who is the leader for the day. This is crucial for bigger groups.
  • Stick together and strike a pace that everyone is comfortable with. Don’t split up, even if the pace is slower than you prefer.
  • Keep a close eye on the weather and the time. Rather turn back if the weather starts changing suddenly, or if the route becomes too tedious for someone in the group to complete.
  • When you safely arrive back home, remember to tell the person you informed of your hike.

 

hiking-table-mountain-groups-cape-town-dibert

Photo by Dibert Theron

 

Emergency Numbers:

Emergency Services: 021 480 7700

Table Mountain National Park Security: 0861 106 417

General Emergency Services Number: 10177.

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Photo taken at: Cape Town, Western Cape

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Between Table Mountain and Signal Hill is a mountain which resembles a proud lion overlooking the city of Cape Town. Lion’s Head is part of the Table Mountain National Park and considered one of the most popular hiking destinations in Cape Town. It offers stunning views of Camps Bay, the Atlantic ocean, Table Mountain, Twelve Apostles, Sea Point, Signal Hill and the City Bowl. The name was given to it by the Dutch in the 17th century, they called it Leeuwen Kop (Lion’s Head). Signal Hill used to be called Leeuwen Staart (Lion’s Tail) – the two together reminded the first Dutch settlers of a crouching lion.

Lion’s Head peaks at 669 meters above sea level and it’s about an hour and a half of relatively easy hiking to the top. The hike starts at the car park on Signal Hill Road. Follow the trail which circles around the mountain to get to the top. The hike is easy up until the point just before you reach the summit. To reach the summit, get ready for quite a bit of challenging climbing. Luckily a series of chains and steel ladders will assist you with the ascend and descend. Along the way you will also see epic paragliding launch sites.

Hike up in the morning for a breathtaking sunrise or in the afternoon  for a world famous Cape Town sunset. If you feel really brave, try the full moon hike. Witness the amazing view of the sun setting over the sea and the moon rising over the mountains. Lion’s Head is doubtlessly a big favourite of both locals and tourists who love a good hike and stunning views. Remember to bring your camera  for an unforgettable photo!

Take a Guided Lion’s Head Hike

Although Lion’s Head rates as a 2 on the hiking scale (out of 5), parts of the hike are very challenging. An experienced guide can create the ultimate hiking experience for your enjoyment. You can choose between the leisurely spiral route around the mountain, or the more adventurous option to the summit via the climbing chains installed.

Depending on your fitness level, you can hike up and down the mountain in about two to three hours. In total the hike is a 5.5 km round trip. The hike is extremely popular and can take longer simply due to the amount of people ascending and descending the mountain.

You can ask your guide to create a hike for you featuring two different hiking routes. The guide will make sure that you adhere to the Lion’s Head Mountain safety guidelines. If you have a fear of heights, rather stick to the Lion’s Head Spiral Route.

Why Use a Guide to Hike up Lion’s Head

A professional guide will provide you with a complete package that includes everything you need for a successful hike. This includes your transportation to the mountain; coffee, tea or hot chocolate; a snack and refresher drinks. Plus, your hiking guide will also take great photos of your Lion’s Head experience.

You will have to ensure that you wear appropriate clothes for the hike. Beforehand you can ask your guide for clothing tips. Proper hiking gear is recommended, which includes layering up against the unpredictable Cape Town weather. The wind can become very chilly at the top, even on a hot summer’s day. You should wear closed shoes that is suitable for running or hiking.

Book Your Guided Lion’s Head Hike Now

The Hike Lion’s Head guides have created an inclusive hiking package for R850. This includes the preparation for an unforgettable hike; transportation to the mountain; plus refreshments to make sure you stay hydrated and energized during your hike. And your guide will ensure that you travel up the mountain safely while informing you about interesting facts about the mountain.

Visit hikelionshead.co.za now for more information or to book your hike.

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Remember to share your epic Instagram pics with us! Tag @secretcapetown or use #secretcapetown to be featured with our #guesswhere.