You might think of hiking as a summer activity, but there are some magnificent winter hikes too. The landscape is lush and green after some good rain, and there are few things as magical as the waterfalls that spring up all around the city. Here are some of the winter hikes in and around Cape Town where you can see waterfalls.
Woodstock cave, Woodstock
After some good rainfall, the tiny waterfall at Woodstock Cave on the slopes of Table Mountain transforms to a curtain of water, with rainbows and all. The cave itself has an epic view of the area of Woodstock and surrounds. It’s a relatively easy and family-friendly hike, so be sure to pack a picnic and enjoy the view while you’re up there.
You have two starting point options. You can start via Tafelberg road: just drive past the Cableway station and park near the Woodstock Cave route start. The second option is starting at Rhodes Memorial and hiking to the King’s Blockhouse. Past the Blockhouse the road forks, and you’ll take the left fork. At the next fork, take a right towards the Cableway.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, Newlands
Kirstenbosch NAtional Botanical Garden is home to one of our favourite winter hikes. Follow the Yellowood Trail and you’ll come across a permanent waterfall that’s particularly spectacular after the winter rains. It will feel like you’re in the heart of a forest while you’re only fifteen minutes away from the centre of town. It’s a lovely spot to relax and reconnect with nature all throughout the year. While you’re there, explore the rest of the magnificent Kirstenbosch Garden and you’ll get to know the indigenous fynbos of the Cape.
Jonkershoek Nature Reserve, Stellenbosch
This nature reserve just outside Stellenbosch has multiple waterfalls to admire and enjoy. With towering mountains and lush valleys, this is easily one of the most magnificent winter hikes that isn’t connected to Table Mountain. It’s an even walk along the Eerste Rivier (‘First River’) to the Eerste Waterfal (‘First Waterfall’). A steeper climb takes you to the Tweede Waterfal (‘Second Waterfall’) where you can enjoy a break in the shade. Getting to the second waterfall involves walking up the river, so be sure to get a map and directions at the ticket office. Climbing to the top of the waterfall is currently not allowed due to safety concerns.
Cecilia Forest, Constantia Nek
Just south of Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden you’ll find the beautiful Cecilia Forest in the Constantia area. Walk the slopes of Table Mountain with beautiful views of the southern suburbs stretching all the way to Muizenberg and discover an enchanting waterfall on the way. Start and finish this pleasant hike at the Cecilia Forest parking lot, off Rhodes Drive in Constantia. Follow the contour path and the signs to Cecilia Ravine via Rooikat Ravine. The hike entails some climbing so be sure to wear good shoes and pack enough water.
Krom River, Du Toitskloof
If you’re keen for a day trip, and a fairly challenging winter hike, head on over to the Krom River Hiking trail at Du Toitskloof just outside Paarl. The trail starts right after the Worcester exit of the Huguenot Tunnel, where you’ll walk back towards the tunnel, looking out for the sign beneath the two bridges marking the direction to the Krom River Trail. The hike crosses the Krom and Molenaars rivers. It’s in the Limietberg Nature Reserve, so you ‘ll need to pay for your permits at the reserve office or book ahead through CapeNature Central Reservations. It’s a gratifying 7km hike that should take about five hours to complete there-and-back.
Silvermine Nature Reserve
If you’re looking for an easy walk or hiking with kids and/or dogs then the waterfall walk in Silvermine Nature Reserve is perfect for you. It’s about an hour of walking there-and-back. Park and pay an entry fee at Gate 2 and take the marked path to the waterfall. The trail starts off nice and easy but narrows closer to the 30m waterfall. While you’re there you can also stop off for a swim, picnic or braai at the Silvermine Dam.
Crystal Pools, Gordon’s Bay
Crystal Pools is unfortunately closed during mid-winter (the hike is only open from November until the end of April annually), but it deserves a mention for the waterfalls. The rock pools at Steenbras Nature Reserve near Gordon’s Bay are connected by a number of beautiful waterfalls. A hike to Crystal Pools is certainly a Cape Town bucket list item and if you love swimming (in very chilly water) then this one is perfect for you. The first pool is about 45 minutes from the start of the trail and you can stop here for a snack or break in the shade. For some serious swimming and kloofing opportunities, it’s best to hold out for the second pool, which is another ten to fifteen minutes up. Here’s where you’ll find the glorious waterfall where you can have an outdoor shower. Don’t jump off the rocks into the pool unless you have a guide or experienced hiker with you who has done it before.
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