Feature image courtesy of @snowreportsa

Snow in South Africa remains a fascinating weather phenomenon. Maybe it’s because we’re used to mostly sunny skies and warm days. It’s a great adventure to go snow hunting in winter, and in Cape Town we’re lucky enough to have snow almost on our doorstep.

A quick road trip within a three-hour drive, and you can pretend for a moment that you’re driving somewhere in Europe. We’ve sourced the best places for you to see the exciting little white fluffy stuff.

Snow season differs every year but late June to late July you’re mostly guaranteed to see some good downfall. Good thing this period falls over the school holidays! Perfect excuse to stare in amazement at the snow-capped peaks. And there’s nothing more romantic than a weekend getaway to the snowy hills. The best way to stay in the loop with snow in South Africa, is Snow Report SA. They are also active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you plan a trip over the weekend, there are great farm stays in the surrounding areas.

Best Places to See Snow in The Western Cape

There are four main areas in the Western Cape that consistently receive snow: Tulbagh, Ceres, Cederberg, and Worcester.

Tulbagh is the closest to Cape Town, an hour and bit drive away. The quaint little town has beautiful Cape Dutch homesteads, tucked away between the mountains. On its outskirts lies many farms. These scenic mountains and open fields are often transformed into a white wonderland in the winter season.

Ceres is a little bit further away, just over two-hours drive. The fruitful valley produces an array of fruits. The second highest peak in the province is found here and the South African Ski Club calls it home. The reserve located outside the picturesque town is perfect for snowman building, snowball fights, skiing, and snowboarding. But if you want to truly enjoy the snow, you need a 4×4 to access it.

Also about a two-hour drive away, you can hunt the snow in the Cederberg. In the summer time the region is infamously hot and dry. But in winter it boasts with beautiful bright-blue skies and snow-capped mountains. The region’s highest peak, Sneeuberg, always has a sprinkle of snow adorning it in the winter months.

Two and a half hours away, you can enter the wine valley to view snow and lush green pastures. The wine growing region stretching from Worcester to Robertson often boasts with snowy mountains in the winter time, even if it’s only on the higher peaks. You can keep yourself busy here for hours with wine tasting, trout fishing, and historical winter walks hosted in the town.

Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve

Where: Farm Erfdeel, Matroosberg, Breede River, Ceres

www.matroosberg.com

Most of the time during snow season, this is your best bet to see snow. The Matroosberg mountain range boasts with the highest peaks in the Western Cape. In a good winter season, you can access the snow with a regular car on the lower slopes. With a 4×4 you can make your way to the higher peaks to explore the deeper snow.

The reserve has its own official ski slope and hut. There’s a wide range of accommodation options available in the area, something for every budget.

Klondyke Cherry Farm

Where: Breede River, Ceres

www.cherryfarm.co.za

Situated on the other side of Ceres, this cherry farm is often powered white during winter. Sometimes it’s just the tips of the Matroosberg surrounding it, but in a good season the snow lies thick on the farm. The farm offers both camping and self-catering accommodation options.

Guinevere Guest Farm

Where: R46, Tulbagh Road, Tulbagh

www.guinevereguestfarm.com

This beautiful farm is ideal for an overnight stay on your way to the snow hunting. During high snowfall seasons you might wake up to a white wonderland, with the magnificent mountains as a backdrop. If not, you will be close enough to the other snow-rich areas a short drive from the town.

Mont Rouge

Where: Strekstroom Road, Tulbagh

www. montrouge.co.za

Another great overnight option in the Tulbagh area. It’s centrally located to offer you the best chance of driving to see the snow in the surrounding areas. Often formidable peaks surrounding the farm is snow-capped in the heart of winter.

De Wilge

Where: Robertson

www.dewilge.co.za

This guesthouse in the Nuy Valley used to be an 19th century wine cellar. It was revamped into two stunningly luxurious apartments. Looking out onto the magnificent Langeberg Mountains, it’s a great spot to celebrate your successful snowhunting endeavours.

De Pakhuys

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Pakhuis pass.

A post shared by Matthys Kruger (@depakhuys) on

Where: Clanwilliam

www.depakhuys.com

This spot is popular with hikers and rock climbers.  Situated 26km from Clanwilliam on the way to Wupperthal village, it’s ideal for camping or glamping.

Tucked away in the beautiful Agter-Pakhuis valley, it will give you the opportunity to savour the moment of your glorious snow hunting.

Goatherds House

Where: Matroosberg

www.matroosberg.com

It’s not every day that you get to stay in a hundred-year-old farm house. This immaculately restored humble abode is located at the foot of the Matroosberg Mountain, and it’s fitted with a few cosy comforts to heat you up during an icy winter moment.

Fairfield

Where: Ceres

www.fairfieldcottages.co.za

Easily accessible from Ceres, this lovely mountain retreat is only 6km from the town. It is nestled between orchids, at the foot of the Skurweberg Mountains. Perfect spot to stay after you’ve visited the Matroosberg Private Nature Reserve.

Seven Oaks Vineyard Cottages

Where: Worcester

www.sevenoaksvineyardcottages.co.za

These self-catering cottages are situated on a 63-hectare active wine farm. Located in the Breede River Valley, the little cosy cottages offer you glorious mountain views.

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The Mother City offers you endless exploration opportunities. There’s enough things to keep you busy 24/7! We’ve decided to offer you small chunks of exploration options, the top 5 of everything that you have to see when visiting Cape Town.

Whether you are a hardcore outdoor junkie, or more of a cityslicker who wants only a small dose of nature, Cape Town will not disappoint you either way!

The Big 5 Nature Activities in Cape Town

Without further ado, here’s our suggestions of the must-do outdoor activities.

#1 Table Mountain

The formidable mountain has been included in the new list of 7 Wonders of Nature. And we fully agree with the inclusion! It’s almost as if the mountain creates a special energy, which draws you in. You can either hike your way to the top, or take the fun rotating cable way. Read more about the hiking routes in our post about the Top 5 Hiking Routes Up Table Mountain. Or take a guided Table Mountain hike.

#2 Lion’s Head

It’s the most-climbed mountain in the city. You can meander your way around the mountain in a circular route to the top. Or if your fitness level allows it, you can tackle the chain ladders and scurry your way to the top like a monkey.

The view from the top is priceless. A 360° vantage point of the city will offer you a great picture of how the urban and the natural jungle intermingle in Cape Town. Read our post about what you need to know about hiking up Lion’s Head for the full moon. Or take a guided Lion’s Head hike.

#3 Kirstenbosch Gardens

It is the most famous of South Africa’s botanical gardens, there are nine in total. The popular garden was founded in 1913 and covers five of South Africa’s six biomes. You can view plants from the Karoo, savanna, the indigenous fynbos, and more.

Kirstenbosch has a strong focus on the native Cape region plants, such as a formidable collection of Proteas alongside the fynbos. The “Kirsten” refers to the original manager of the area, J.F. Kirsten. He was in charge of caring for the land in the 18th century. And the “bosch” refers to a bush. The gardens also include a Provincial Heritage Site. You can still view parts of the Wild Almond and brambles hedge ordered by Jan van Riebeek in 1660. Van Riebeek’s Hedge protected the boundaries of the original Dutch colony. In 2013 a special tree canopy walkway was built to celebrate the garden’s 100th birthday. A visit to Kirstenbosch is not complete without a photo from the Boomslang.

Visit the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens website for more information.

#4 Constantia

Grapes are part of nature, right? So sipping wine definitely counts as a nature outing! The Constantia Valley is a vineyard nestled in between the Southern suburbs. It is the oldest wine-making region of the southern hemisphere.

It lies at the foot of the Table Mountain National Park and the Constantiaberg. Select a VoiceMap Constantia tour to guide you more constructively through the beautiful landscapes. You can also book a Constantia Wine Tour if you are in the mood for wine tasting after meandering through the vineyards.

Visit constantiavalley.com for more information.

#5 Cape Point

Two oceans meet at this rugged outcrop, the Indian and the Atlantic. The area is part of the Table Mountain National Park and boasts with a formidable array of fynbos. The Cape of Good Hope nature reserve and Cape Point was declared a World Heritage Site. Bartolomeu Dias dubbed the area the ‘Cape of Storms’ in 1488. In the daytime sailors could use the prominent point as a handy navigational guide. But at night the waters around it became treacherous, fog masking the dangerous rocky outline.

By 1859 a lighthouse was built to steer ships clear of the danger zones. Till this day it keeps watch over the area, at 238 metres above sea-level. The area features wide pathways leading up and down the side of the rocky point. If your legs feel too tired for the climb back up, you can take the Flying Dutchman Funicular. After visiting the lighthouse, stop at one of the beaches inside the reserve for a leisurely picnic lunch.

Visit capepoint.co.za for more information.

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Alternative Hiking Routes While Lionshead is Closed

Lion’s Head is closed for trail maintenance and repair from the 7th of January until the 14th of February. To read more about the closure click here.

If you are like us you are probably looking for some other hikes to do in Cape Town while Lion’s Head is inaccessible. Here are some alternative hiking ideas for you, from laidback strolling to challenging rock scrambling.

Easy Hike: Pipe Track

Distance: approximately 6km | Hiking Time: 3 hours | Difficulty Level: Easy
Terrain: Level – a rocky single jeep track, with few stone stairs.

It is one of the most enjoyable tranquil and easy hikes in the city, with amazing views similar to Lion’s Head, along the pipe track above Camps Bay. You won’t be aiming for the summit, so no need to worry about steep and strenuous inclines. But it is a hefty distance, so come prepared with enough water and snacks. The hike starts on a single rocky path which leads into a jeep track. You will be hiking up a few little hills, but nothing too challenging.

The route dates back to 1887 and as the name hints at, the track was created to lay pipelines. These important pipes transfer the precious liquid from the mountain’s reservoirs to the City of Cape Town. You can’t go wrong with this hike, even though it is not challenging, the magnificent views of the 12 Apostles mountain range will make up for the simplistic route.

Did you know? Mountaineers have been conquering the mountain since 1503

The route meanders along the Atlantic coast, looking down upon Camps Bay, with Lion’s Head and the ocean in the distance. Enjoy the rich fauna and flora along the way, you’ll be surrounded by the famous fynbos, with proteas scattered along the way. The track hugs the side of the formidable Table Mountain sandstone cliffs and travels through the western slope ravines as well. The route is in the shade during the early morning and sunny the rest of the day. Best time to hike it in the hot summer months, is during the early morning or late afternoon.

Get to the Top: Platteklip Gorge

Distance: approximately 2.5km | Time: 2 to 3 hours | Difficulty Level: Moderate
Terrain: stone steps with steep sections on a single rocky track

This is the oldest and most direct route to Table Mountain’s summit. It is also one of the easiest routes, making it very popular (aka expect a few hiker friends to pass you on the way) It’s a well-constructed trail that follows a deep ravine on the front face of the mountain. Look up at the majestic cliffs as you hike, traversing them before reaching the summit.

You can also extend the hike from the ravine head, meandering along the whole length of the famous mountain before reaching the highest point on the summit. Epic views guaranteed! If you are not a big fan of scary heights, this is the best route for you.

Related: Top 5 Hiking Routes up Table Mountain

The hike features big rock steps, requiring some scrambling during the lower part the route. It still a tedious hike, although it’s less strenuous compared to other Table Mountain hiking options. It’s a good route option if your fitness level is low and you prefer a less technical hike, and perfect if you have a fear of heights. But beware, hiking down will take its toll on your body, as it is quite steep with joint-jarring steps to contend with. You can also opt for the option of climbing up Table Mountain and taking the cable car back down, or the other way around. Read our post Hiking up Table Mountain or Lion’s Head at Night if you want to spice up your hike.

More Challenging: Skeleton Gorge

Distance: approximately 6.5km | Time: about 5 hours | Difficulty Level: Challenging
Terrain: stone steps with steep sections and ladders on a single rocky track, includes minor scrambles

This one is another classic route up the mountain, but more challenging than Platteklip Gorge. It starts in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. So the first part of the route traverses through an indigenous jungle before you reach the shrub-covered slopes on the way to the highest point on the mountain.

You can also consider a little detour to the secret “beach” at the Table Mountain reservoirs. As you ascend the mountain, take in the epic views of the Cape Peninsula before enjoying the views of the city on the other side.

Related: Top Five Hiking Groups in Cape Town

The route scampers across slippery rocks in one section, so get ready for the challenge. But it doesn’t include any excessive exposure to heights, except for a short section of wooden ladders. These are very challenging during wet conditions. If you hike it during the winter months of June to August you will be treated to little waterfalls and cascades along the way.

What is scrambling?

It’s an in-between level, not just hiking and not quite climbing. This adds a nice challenge to a hike without making it too technical. After a hike that includes a bit of scrambling, you will feel like you have truly climbed a mountain.

India Venter

Distance: approximately 3km | Time: 3 hours | Difficulty Level: Challenging
Terrain: steep sections with staples and stone steps on a single rocky track, includes scrambling.

This one is by far one of the most challenging routes up the mountain. And not for the faint of heart, 15% of the way you will be navigating narrow ledges while exposed to heights. Ideal for adventurous hikers, with a great variation in the topography.

You will explore a very dramatic part of the mountain, climbing just-just below the cable car while meandering through the formidable cliffs. Although the hike is not as strenuous as Skeleton Gorge, it is more technical. If you are not an experienced hiker, it is advisable to do this route with a professional guide. Read our post Hiking up Table Mountain to learn more about the benefits of a guided hike.

Climbing Table Mountain should be taken very serious, and with a challenging route such as the India Venster you should make sure you are properly prepared and a competent hiker, if you want tackle it on your own. Plus, make sure that you climb with a group of friends. If you can stomach the heights, the magnificent views and imposing topography are spectacular. Any adventure junkie’s dream come true!

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Lions Head Closed Till 14th February

UPDATE: The reopening of Lion’s Head has been postponed to the 1st of March. After the extensive fire on 27 January 2019, SANparks have been unable to complete the planned maintenance. An investigation was conducted by JP Smith, member of the City of Cape Town’s Safety and Security. It was determined that the fire was started by someone attempting to cook on the mountain. The cooking utensils were found at the starting point of the fire, above Quarry Hill Road, Tamboerskloof. Arson has been ruled out as the cause.

Because of strong south easterly winds fanning the fire, it soon spread towards Sea Point. A few residents evacuated prematurely, but the warning was not issued by the city. According to some sources, a private security company urged people to leave.

The Spiral Trail was affected heavily, with the already-strained paths needing extra recovery time. The fire ravished approximately 160 hectares between Lion’s Head and Signal Hill. Only one man was injured. He was sleeping on the mountain, and sustained burns to 45% of his body.

The City’s Beloved Mountain

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. And the Lion’s Head route must be preserved for as long as possible. Lastly, hiker safety is of the utmost importance. The mountain 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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Jonkershoek Panorama Circuit Trail Route Near Stellenbosch With Chelsea Kauai Taken By Jacques Crafford

Photo Caption: #guesswhere this amazing valley is? Tag someone who would like to go hike here with you.

Photo by @jacques_crafford

View in Instagram ⇒

Situated near the wine region in the southeast of Stellenbosch, the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve covers about 9,800 hectares of mainly mountain fynbos. It boasts more than 1 100 plant species, several of which are endemic. The reserve is also home to the imposing Jonkershoek Mountains and portions of the upper Jonkershoek valley.  It incorporates the smaller Assegaaibosch Nature Reserve in its borders. Jonkershoek is known for its rugged terrain, challenging hiking trails and stunning views, making it an ideal hiking destination.

Just 6 kilometers from the center of the reserve is one of the Jonkershoek valley’s classic day trails – the Jonkershoek Panorama Hiking Circuit Trail. It is a circular 17-kilometer route filled with protea-covered slopes, grassy ridges, craggy cliffs, stony inclines, gushing waterfalls, and rocky river paths. The trail can be hiked in both clockwise and counter-clockwise directions and takes between 6 – 8 hours to traverse.

Note: Some reports and GPS readings show that the trail is only 14.5 km.

After paying an entry fee at the gate of the Jonkershoek Nature Reserve ( R40 or remember your Wild Card ), you can drive to the trailhead at White Bridge on the hairpin bend of the Circular Drive. You can then start climbing immediately if hiking in a clock-wise direction. The path is a well-maintained singletrack hiking trail. The trail is in great condition in the early stages. Then there is a steep climb to a contour path just below Third Ridge and Banghoek peaks. The path then zigzags steeply up the Bergriviernek which has amazing views of Assegaaiboskloof.

Jonkershoek Panorama Circuit Trail Map

If you start in an anti-clockwise direction you can enjoy a slower start as you walk down the Eerste River valley heading towards Tweede Waterval. The Tweede Waterfal ( Waterfall ) route is an ease hike that can be done on its own. Click here for a pic from the waterfall and to learn more about it.

After the waterfall the path will cross the river heading up towards Guardian Peak and Kurktrekker. The path will get a lot steeper and you will enter a spree section near the top.

If you are looking for the same spot as Chelsea Kauai to replicate her photo of the valley you need to go this way. About halfway up the climb right at the water point there is a path that goes off left through some Proteas and fynbos. Along this route you will find the rock Chelsea is standing on. To continue the route you will need to double back to the water point.

To hike from Guardian Peak to the Bergriviernek follow the windy path along the Dwarsberg Plateau.

To download the full Jonkershoek brochure click here.

As Far As The Eye Can See

Jonkershoek Panarama Circuit Trail Views

Take note that at higher altitudes, the weather conditions in Jonkershoek may be quite different from lower in the valley and can change rapidly. The route then winds across the panoramic views of the Jonkershoek valley as you traverse the edge of the Dwarsberg plateau. The higher you climb, the panoramic views over Jonkershoek Valley get better and better. You can then take a short detour up Guardian Peak, elevated at 1 227 meters. It overlooks the Cape Peninsula, all the way from Table Mountain to Cape Point, Robben Island, False Bay, Cape Hangklip, and the peaks of the Hottentots Holland range.

If you hiked in a clockwise direction, from Kurktrekker, the path descends in a steep, rocky scramble past Tweede and Eerste Waterval, with swimming opportunities. The trail winds along the Eerste River and then back to the starting point.

The Jonkershoek Panorama Trail is moderate to strenuous, suitable only for fit and competent hikers. Wear proper hiking boots or shoes and bring along your full hiking kit, extra layers, swimming clothes, food, and water. This exquisitely diverse and popular trail is rather challenging. But the stunning panoramas, spectacular mountain vistas, magnificent waterfalls, and crystal clear streams make this trail a must-try.

Summary:

Distance: 17km ( 14.5 on GPS )

Time: 6 – 8 Hours

Parking: At the harpoon bend of the circular driving route right by the white bridge.

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.

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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

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

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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