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December 10, 2012

The best hiking routes in Cape Town

There’s no doubt that one of the nicest activities to indulge in is a good hike, and what better place to walking up a mountain, through great fynbos or along the coast than Cape Town?

Even if you’re just in the city for a few days, there are plenty of great hikes to do. Just remember to be safe and preferably take a guide.

The spectacular view of Cape town and Robben Island, once you reach the summit of Lion's Head. Images © Mallix 2010

We asked some Cape Town hikers about their favourite walks, and some advice on the best routes and what makes these routes so special.

Glenda Doller, from the Ramblers Hiking Club, started hiking three years ago.

“A friend of mine used to use me on hikes to gauge how difficult it was because if I could make it, anyone would. I decided to do it regularly and joined these wonderful Ramblers. On my first hike I met the most divine man, fringe benefit, and now we are hiking into retirement together.

“Nothing beats the camaraderie on the mountains, whether for a few hours or my favourite, a fiveday hike carrying my own backpack. The joy of putting it down to eat or swim is wonderful,” she says.

Glenda’s favourite hikes are:

  • Lion's Head: “This hike meanders around the mountain, providing wonderful views from all sides. Often, weather permitting, the hang-gliders use it to launch. It takes approximately three hours up and down, but we do it in four as we frequently stop to admire the view.  It is a fabulous route on full moon evenings, but don’t forget your torch.”
  • Table Mountain: “There are various routes up Table Mountain, but for a tourist I would recommend going up with the cable car and walking to Maclear’s Beacon.  It is very well marked and although it only takes an hour-and-a-half, it is quite spectacular.  When the flowers are out it is a joy to explore.”
  • Newlands Forest-Woodcutter Trail: “It is also a short walk and wonderful with children. It is a good shady walk in summer, with large parts of the walk running on the banks of the Newlands Stream. Enjoy the forest and its wonderful history of woodcutters and cottage ruins.”
  • Grootkop and Kleinplaas dam: “This is a great walk through fynbos with gentle climbing and a wonderful panoramic views over the whole southern peninsula and False Bay. It takes two hours, three if you descend to the dam and walk back from there. On a clear day you can see Table Mountain.”

“Oh dear, there are so many wonderful walks that it is difficult to decide which is better. There is also Silvermine or the Tokai forest, and the wonderful Cape Point …” she adds.

Dr Bryan Chute has been hiking for about 20 years, and has done most of the hikes in Cape Town.

“There are probably about 150 various hikes that can be done, with various degrees of difficulty. If you are a tourist, the best place to start is probably with one of Mike Lundy’s books or hiking maps www.slingbymaps.com. Lundy is considered the guru of hiking in Cape Town.

“He has put together about 20-30 hikes and his maps are superb. He has named every rock that can be named,” says Bryan.

Bryan’s favourite hike is up to Tranquility Cavern: “It starts along the Pipe Track along Camps Bay. Then you get this cavern of rocks. It is massive and filled with trees growing through the cracks, and from there you have a magnificent view of Camps Bay. Not many people know about it.”

Mike Lundy says: "At age 13 I regularly rock-climbed below Table Mountain's Upper Cableway Station. My mother is still turning in her grave! My favourite hikes are Orange Kloof including Hell’s Gate, Tranquility Cracks, Kalk Bay Caves and the Suikerbossie Circuit.

"All four are in the latest 8th Edition of Best Walks in the Cape Peninsula and according to the publisher (Struik) it’s been a bestseller for 21 years."

Hiking Lion's Head under a full moon. This photograph was taken from Lion’s Head by our Cape Town. Live it. Love it. group member MartyCam.

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