Lion’s Head – A Classic Cape Town Walk

The city of Cape Town is situated in a natural amphitheater, formed by three mountains that embrace it. Of course Table Mountain on its southern side is the best known. However it is the mountain on the western edge of the city that is the darling of Capetonians. This is the mountain known as “The Lion”. It has been known by this name since the days of the Dutch settlement, and got its name from its resemblance to a lion lying on its belly. The tallest rocky section represents the head of the lion and the furthest and lowest part of the hill is the rump of the lion. Welcome to the Lion’s Head.

Lion’s Head is Part of Culture and Tradition

This mountain is steeped in history and tradition. Low down on the rump of “The Lion” is signal hill, from where a cannon is fired at noon everyday except on Sundays and public holidays. Many first-time visitors to Cape Town are shocked and frightened by the loud boom of the noon-day gun, only to relax when they notice that the locals do not react to the noise! There are in fact two canons. Both of them are loaded but only one is fired. The second is a back-up in case the first one fails to fire. These ships guns were manufactured in London in 1794 and brought to The Cape for the first British invasion in 1795. They are the oldest muzzle loaded guns in the world that are still in use.

It’s a Burial Place

Also situated on the lion is the tomb of one of Cape Town’s early Moslem spiritual leaders. This is the burial place of Sheikh Muhammed Hassan Ghabi Shah al Qadri and it is still visited by devout moslems seeking spiritual inspiration.

lion's head

In the early days of European settlement this area teemed with wild animals and in 1959 the journal of the first commander of The Dutch East India Company, Jan van Riebeeck, relates how the clothing, skull and bones of a missing soldier were discovered at base of The Lion mountain, presumably killed and devoured by a lion.

The Popularity of Lion’s Head

Lion’s Head is a favourite hike for Cape Town residents and has become a popular hike for visitors to the city too. The hike is relatively quick, taking less than 3 hours to ascend and descend. It is also considered easy, although it involves a fair amount of rock scrambling and people who are easily scared of heights do struggle.

When the the Table Mountain cable car is not operating, Lion’s Head is an excellent alternative hike for visitors wanting a good walk. The views from the top as well as during the ascent are spectacular, offering some of the best perspectives of Table Mountain and the 12 apostles, as well as great views on the city bowl, the waterfront, Camps Bay and Seapoint.

It has become very popular to hike up Lion’s Head in the late afternoon in order to watch the sun set over the Atlantic Ocean and then to descend by torchlight. In the summer months this expedition can be timed to coincide with the full moon, which rises close to sunset, and makes the descent more visible and navigable.

The Route

The route up is unmistakable and starts as a wide dirt track, which later narrows to a footpath. This path spirals around and up the mountain until it reaches the knife-edge and then goes straight-up the spine to the summit. Along the route there is an option to take a short-cut via a climb with chains provided for added security and assistance.

The walk also provides some geological, zoological and botanical treats. The route passes through three of the major geological formations of the Cape Peninsula Mountains and these very different rock types are clearly visible. In fact it is like walking through millions of years of history.

The lower slopes are covered in the beautiful but endangered protea known as the Silver Tree (Leucodendron argenteum) and on a breezy day these are magnificent to behold as they flash their silky silver leaves in the wind. At the top one regularly sees Rock Hyraxes (Procavia capensis), which never fail to delight. I have even seen a particularly beautiful Striped Harlequin Snake (Homoroselaps dorsalis)on this route.

What to bring:

Comfortable and sturdy walking shoes or boots are necessary. On the rock scrambling section you will be grateful for suitable footwear. It is very exposed on this route and can either be baking hot on a still day or very cold on a windy day or evening. So sun-screen and a hat are strongly advised, as is a warm layer of clothing. And in spite of its apparent ease never venture onto this route without sufficient water. The Lion’s Head trail is a deceptive walk. Treat it with respect and it will certainly be a highlight of your visit to Cape Town.

Cape Town Nature Reserves – Central and Southern Regions

cape town

We continue to keep you informed with the second part of our Cape Town Nature Reserves list. And just like before, some interesting information and pictures have been added. At Walk in Africa Hiking Trails, we like to be thorough and up to date with everything. If you want to check out the north and eastern regions, just click here.

Cape Town Nature Reserves – Southern Region

  • Rondevlei Nature Reserve

The Rondevlei Nature Reserve is primarily a bird sanctuary, being home to about 230 species. It spans over 290 HA of land and serves as a critical breeding ground for these birds. Other mammals also call the reserve home, such as porcupines and hippopotamus. In terms of facilities, there are observation towers and a hiking trail, among many other things.

cape town nature reserve

  • Zandvlei Estuary Nature Reserve

It’s the only functioning estuary on Cape Town’s False Bay coast, and it’s a wetland sanctuary for 166 bird species. There are 20 different type of reptile species that join the birds on this 300 HA of land, in addition to other endangered plantation.

zandvlei cape town nature reserve

Smaller Southern Nature Reserves

  • De Hel Nature Area

You’ll find 21 HA of indigenous forest and a protected river valley at the De Hel Nature Area. However, several endangered wildlife species are safe here as well, such as the Western Leopard Toad and the Knysa warbler. In terms of plant species, there are several hundreds, including Silvertree.

de hel cape town nature reserve

  • Die Oog Conservation Area

This is the smallest conservation on our list, stretching only 1.2 HA, but it’s also very convenient. Die Oog Conservation Area can be found in the Bergvliet suburb of Cape Town, and it attractions include an artificial island.

  • Glencairn Wetland

The Glencairn Wetland reserve protects the indigenous Cape wetland of the lower Else River. It’s only 20 HA big, bit it hosts an amazing and diverse plant and animal life. It’s the perfect spot for school excursions and for finding a good fishing area. And better yet, there are several hiking trails you can choose from.

glencairn cape town nature reserve

  • Edith Stephens Wetland Park

This is a large and seasonal wetland, covering 39 HA of land. The initial area of the park was smaller, and donated by the botanist Edith Stephens. She wanted to preserve the Isoetes capensis plants, which don’t grow anywhere else on earth. Now it protects much more than just endangered plants. There are picnic areas, boardwalks and an education center among other things.

Edith_Stephens Cape town nature reserve

Cape Town Nature Reserves – Central Region

  • Durbanville Nature Reserve

Situated next to the Durbanville Racecourse, the Durbanville Nature reserve only stretches 6 HA, but it’s a crucial area. It’s triangular in shape and was established to protect two specific vegetation types. These are the Swartland Shale Renosterveld and the Cape Flats Sand Fynbos. But it’s also a sanctuary for a variety of bird species and animals, such as the Angulate Tortoise.

Durbanville_Nature_Reserve cape town

  • Tygerberg Nature Reserve

Within the 300 HA of vast plant and wildlife species, the Tygerberg Nature Reserve promises the Cape Town hiking trail of a lifetime. It’s got more than 500 plant species, along with hundreds of birds and mammals. These include the roaming leopard, the honey badger and even wall snakes.

Tygerberg_Nature_Reserve cape town hiking trail

  • Bracken Nature Reserve

The Bracken Nature Reserve can be found in the suburb of Brackenfell, and it’s 36 HA wide. It aims to protect several plant species that are close to extinction, such as Antimima aristulata. About 160 different species of plant can be appreciated and the footpaths are great for bird watching. Smaller mammals and reptiles join the variety of birds in the area.

Bracken_Nature_Reserve_Cape_Town_South_Africa

  • Uitkamp Wetlands

Situated in the northern suburbs, this is another Cape Town hiking trail must. It spreads across 32 HA of land and protects 140 different plant species. Among those that stand out are the Arum Lilies, Pink Watsonias, along with Restios and orchirds.

Uitkamp_wetlands_Cape_Town_-_Watsonias_and_Arum_lilies

Choose the Cape Town Hiking Trail of a Lifetime

There you have the most popular Cape Town Nature reserves in the central and southern regions. And before you start making any plans, always remember that a great guide makes for a great trip. You want professionals with knowledge and skill leading you down the breathtaking pathways. More importantly, you want a guide who is truly passionate about nature.

Go ahead and look at our Cape Town hiking trail packages. We cater to everyone, whether you are close-by or visiting from abroad. Plus, we are motivated to make the trip memorable.

A List of Nature Reserves in Cape Town – East & Northern Regions

Cape Town is home to some of the most beautiful natures reserves in South Africa. From north to south, and from the central region to the east, many adventures are waiting. As a professional Cape Town hiking tour service, we pride ourselves in keeping people informed. Hence, we’ve compiled this list of nature reserves in Cape Town. In addition to the names of these reserves, there is some information on what makes the reserve special. We hope you find what you are looking for, and if you feel like experiencing all the beauty the Mother City has to offer, don’t hesitate to look at our packages.

Nature Reserves in Cape Town – Eastern Region

  • Wolfgat Nature Reserve

Named after the strandwolf that inhabited the area up until the 19th century, Wolfgat is 248 HA of endangered dune vegetation. It’s a coastal reserve with magnificent cliffs and more than 150 species of plant life. It’s also home to a wide variety of birds.
nature reserves in cape town

  • Macassar Dunes Conservation Area

The Cape Flats Dune Strandveld vegetation is the focus point of this conservation. While it boasts with an incredibly versatile wildlife scene, the endangered White Milkwood Tree also draws a lot of attention. It’s also known for the highest dune in the Cape peninsula.

nature reserve cape town

  • Helderberg Nature Reserve

You can find the Helderberg Nature Reserve on the southern slopes of the Helderberg Mountains, and it’s one of the nature reserves in Cape Town that really stand out. With more than 600 plant species growing wild, and about 170 bird species, you are sure to have the Cape Town hike of a lifetime. The animals you can expect to see include tamed leopards, mongoose and the Cape grysbok.

helderberg cape town hiking trail

  • Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary

If you appreciate a magnificent bird-life scene, then the Dick Dent Bird Sanctuary is a must see reserve. It’s a sanctuary for birds and managed by the Helderberg Nature Reserve.

  • Kogelberg Nature Reserve

The Kogelberg Nature reserve in Cape Town has no less than 1600 species of plant life that spreads across 3000 HA of land. There’s a wide range of Proteas and fynbos, but that’s only the beginning of it. Indigenous trees, like the Wild Almond and Yellowwood, can also be found here.

Nature Reserves in Cape Town – Northern Region

    • Mamre Nature Garden

Mamre Nature Garden may not be the biggest reserve, but it does protect a valuable vegetation type, namely the Atlantis Sand fynbos. Of course this isn’t the only thing that’s safe within the 254 Ha of diverse animal and plant life. Then there’s also the rich cultural history attached to the land.

    • Witzands Aquifer Conservation Area

For those who are into whale watching, sand-boarding and camping, then the Witzands Aquifer Conservation Area is a must Cape Town hike. It spans across 3000 HA of land and preserves two endangered vegetation types – Atlantis Sand Fynbos and Cape Flats Dune Strandveld. Of course there are lots of animals to see as well, such as the globally threatened black harrier.

    • Blaauwberg Conservation Area

A hiking trail South African style is to view two proclaimed world heritage sites from one spot. It’s one of those experiences you just can’t buy. The Blaauwberg Conservation Area offers you one of the rarest opportunities in the world, which is to see Table Mountain and Robin Island from one place.

    • Rietvlei Wetland Reserve

Last but not least on our list of nature reserves in Cape Town, the Rietvlei Wetland Reserve it’s all about protecting the waterbirds. It’s also one of the most important conservation areas in South Africa. In terms of tourist attractions, there are water sports available, picnic areas, bird watching, sport recreational activities, and much more.

Hiking Up Table Mountain

What better way to experience a nature reserve than by hiking? Or what about hiking up Table Mountain after spending a night at the Silvermine Nature Reserve? It’s one of the most popular Cape Town hiking trails, and we’d love to guide you all the way to the summit. If you feel you don’t have the energy to walk down, you descend with a comfortable ride in the cable car.

We have a passionate team of guides who love every second of the outdoors, especially when it’s exploring some part of Africa. Let us make your Cape Town hiking trip the most memorable you’ll ever have.

Top Tips For Table Mountain Hikes

As amazing as climbing up Table Mountain can be, it shouldn’t be taken too lightly. There are challenges involved you want to be prepared for. And in light of enjoying the trip to its fullest, we’ve put together some top tips for Table Mountain hikes. These include tips on what to bring along, the typical safety precautions. So get out your Table Mountain trail map and start making some notes.

top tips for table mountain hikes

General Top Tips for Table Mountain Hikes

  • Don’t underestimate the challenging aspects

Always assume that it’s going to require some manner of strain, even the easiest known route, Platteklip Gorge. Given that everyone’s opinion is subjective, thanks to different levels of fitness, you have to be open-minded. For example, starting the hike late on a warm day is going to be more challenging than early in the morning. There’s also a chance of the weather changing.

  • Hike as soon as possible

If you’re planning on spending a few days in Cape Town and hiking Table Mountain is part of that plan, then do it first. The weather conditions on the mountain are different than within the city, especially where clouds and wind are concerned. This isn’t something you’re going to see on a Table Mountain trail map, so prepare for wind and clouds, even in the middle of summer. If you go early on and the weather isn’t playing along, you can come back the next day. If you wait till the last day you could lose out completely.

  • Remember you’re hiking a mountain

This isn’t a relaxing stroll in a large garden. Instead, it’s a walk where you have to pace yourself and the sight seeing is much more exciting. In other words, bring enough water, a rain-jacket, sunscreen and warm layers. It can’t be stressed enough that the weather conditions can, and probably will, change quickly.

  • Hire a good guide

Nothing is stopping you from attempting the Table Mountain hike alone, but do you really want to spend the whole time worrying about what comes next? A guide knows how to read the weather, they know the path and they know what to look for.

  • Wear the right shoes

Wear sport or running shoes that are comfortable. Don’t go with sandals, because you will regret it.

  • Get some exercise beforehand

If at all possible, take a few days to get into shape. Just walking a few kilometers to get the blood flowing will help to prepare you for the hike.

table mountain hike
 

 

Some Quick Safety Tips

  • Don’t hike alone
  • Plan the route well and stay on it
  • In case the group gets lost, stay together and retrace your steps
  • Make sure you bring water-proof clothing and backpacks
  • Don’t take shortcuts and stick to well-used paths as indicated by the Table Mountain trail map
  • Make sure your cellphone is fully charged, because there are areas on the mountain with reception
  • Skeleton gorge

    Alternative to Climbing up Table Mountain

    There are many people who prefer either climbing up Table Mountain and coming back with the cableway, or the other way round. This requires a Table Mountain entrance fee, but it gives you the experience of both hiking and relaxing. There are other sections that require a Table Mountain entrance fee as well, such as the Silvermine Reserve, so get price updates before leaving.

    Table Mountain Animals

    Even though it doesn’t fall under our top tips for Table Mountain hikes, you’re probably wondering what type of animals you’ll get to see. You already know about the diverse fynbos species, but will there be snakes? Yes, there are several snake and lizard species, but they form only a small fraction of animal life on Table Mountain. Birds, dassies, mongooses, these are just some of creatures you’ll come into contact with.

    A Hiking Trail for Every Fitness Level

    There are many hiking trails to choose from, and each comes with its own fitness requirements. Speak to a guide and get a better understanding of what you’ll be getting into. Unlike most subjective opinions, a guide has a good idea of how people in general experience a certain trail.

    We hope you found our top tips for Table Mountain hikes helpful and useful.

    The Silvermine Nature Reserve and Hike – Have an Adventure

    silvermine

    If you visit the Silvermine Nature Reserve in the summer, you’ll be greeted with amazing hiking trails and picnic areas. But if you opt for the winter months, a blanket of mist is going to decorate the green wilderness. Whatever time you choose to visit, a Silvermine hike is not something you’ll quickly forget.

    The name of the reserve comes from the mining that took place during the 1960’s. It was thought that the mountains contained silver, which is why shafts were sunk into the mountains. However, nobody found any silver and the name stuck. Years later (1898) a reservoir was built, which would then serve as a water supply. But from 1912 until now, it’s a haven for people and animals alike.

    The Silvermine Nature Reserve was officially declared part of the Table Mountain National Park in 1998. This meant the area would be preserved, and it’s beauty maintained from there on out. Today, it’s the source of a regenerating getaway, whether you live in Cape Town or visit from abroad. Just a little time between the rich fynbos and wildlife is enough to make you feel like a new person.

    silvermine nature reserve

    The Silvermine Nature Reserve Map

    A look on a different Silvermine Nature Reserve map will show that its divided by the Ou Kaapse Weg. If you’re coming from the city side, you’ll get the pleasure of seeing a very large part of Cape Town as you move up the mountain. But this is just one of many incredible views waiting for those who dare to experience nature at it’s best.

    silvermine nature reserve map

    There are two main entrances to the reserve, namely Gate 1 and Gate 2. Just as the Ou Kaapse Weg splits the reserve, the gates lead in opposite directions. Gate 1 (turn right off the Ou Kaapse Weg) offers a range of mountain biking tracks in addition to great Silvermine Nature Reserve hiking trails. One of the hikes include going all the way to the top of Constantaiburg Mountain, where the view of Hout Bay is priceless. Alternatively, you can relax on the boardwalk, where you can make use of the great Silvermine Natural Reserve braai areas.

    At Gate 2, which follows just a few hundred meters from Gate 1, you turn left into the parking area. It’s up to you if you want to hike to Kalk Bay, or alternatively, follow a circuit route. Some things to look out for on this side of the reserve include Afromontane Forests and waterfalls.

    The Silvermine Dam

    For many the Silvermine Dam is the main attraction. As mentioned earlier, you can make your way around the dam on the boardwalk, have a picnic, test the Silvermine Nature Reserve braai area, or simply enjoy watching the fauna and flora. And if not the main attraction, the Silvermine Dam is definitely where everything comes together. You can even arrange to camp there for the night if you really want to enjoy the reserve at it’s full potential.

    Silvermine

    Other Attractions

    What a Silvermine Nature Reserve map won’t show is the magnificent range of fynbos species. Within the reserve there are more than 900 of them, just waiting for you to study and explore. In fact, at the second gate there’s a display of flowers blooming within the reserve.

    Not all the Silvermine Nature Reserve hike options are suitable for the family, but there are many trails that won’t require a high fitness level. At Walk in Africa we have all the information about the best hiking trails. Or if you prefer a mountain bike experience, there are several trails for these as well.

    Who Will Like It?

    Every single person in the family will probably love the experience. Thanks to the fact that the boardwalk has wheelchair friendly areas, people of all ages can visit the reserve and unwind together. Enjoy the great views of the Mother City and the surrounding ocean while standing between some of the most notorious plants in the world.

    Experience Elephant’s Eye Cape Town

    The name for Elephant’s Eye in Cape Town was given based on the shape of the mountain side, which resembles the side of an elephant’s head. As you may have guessed, the eye section is the cave, which is the main destination of the hike. In terms of history, the cave used to belong to a Hottentot Chiefteness, who held great power according to the legend. Now, it’s one of the many beautiful hiking trails Table Mountain has to offer.

    Elephant’s Eye Cape Town

    What to Expect from the Elephant’s Eye Cape Town Hike

    There are two starting points for the Elephant’s Eye hike, the Silvermine Nature Reserve and the Tokai Forest. From the start the trail (Silvermine Nature Reserve) is fairly easy to pace, and the amazing view of Cape Town as you move up the ridge is already a great reward so early on the hike. Even If you start the hike from the Tokai Forest, a clear day should provide a breath taking view over the Hottentot Holland Mountains. After you reach the top of the ridge you’ll find the trail descending into a patch of pine with a river running through it. Consider this a cool-off station if you’re hiking on a hot summer’s day.

    From there it should be about thirty minutes until you reach the cave itself, where the view is spectacular. The cave has a high ceiling that’s covered with moss and fern, which will most likely make you feel like you’re upside down. The lighting inside the cave is great and there is plenty of space to just sit and relax.

    Of course you can expect to see the fynbos plant species that Table Mountain is so famous for, along with the animal life, such as lizards and an extensive range of birds. All the way up to the cave you can expect a well-walked path the whole family should be able to clear. However, nearing the top, it might get a little steep. So we suggest choosing shoes with enough grip for the hike.

    Level of Difficulty

    The Elephant’s Eye Cape Town hike is popular with good reason. It doesn’t require a high level of fitness, the trail is fairly straightforward, and just about anybody can make it. In fact, this is the type of hike the whole family can enjoy, regardless of age. Even the kids should be able to keep up.

    The Length of the Hike

    The overall hike distance is just under 8km, so you can look at a timeframe of anything between 4 to 5 hours. This takes into account the hike to and from the cave, giving about an hour to enjoy the cave itself and the view.

    Who will Enjoy it?

    If you can appreciate nature, especially the beautiful sights Cape Town has to offer and the whole other life on Table Mountain, you’ll enjoy this hike. It’s easy enough so that you can invite several friends and family of all fitness levels, and what better way to spend the morning or afternoon?

    Over the summer weekends the Elephant’s Eye hiking trail is very busy, so if you want to see the cave when it’s not too crowded, we suggest booking a hiking tour during the week. But whether you live in Cape Town or you’re just visiting, this is a trip you have to take.

    Table Top Mountain Hike – How You can Spend the Day

    Are you considering a Table Top Mountain Hike? Do you wonder why so many people can’t wait to reach the top of this majestic mountain? Well, it’s the type of experience you can’t really put into words, because it’s just too magnificent. For everyone who hasn’t had the liberty of visiting Table Mountain yet, here is what you can expect to see and experience.

    Table Top Mountain Hike

    Table Mountain

    The Table Mountain Cable Car

    That infamous cable car that takes visitors up and down the mountain has been operational since 1929.

    And since it started travelling back and forth, more than 25 million people have taken the trip. It takes about 5 minutes to reach the summit of Table Mountain and you’ll be ascending about 1089 meters. As the cable car makes it way up the mountain, you can look at the hikers down below and all the beauty Cape Town has to offer.

    Food and Drinks

    One of the first places people like to go once they reach the summit is the Table Mountain Café. This is where you can enjoy some of the best South African foods, in addition to fresh salads and desserts. It’s a self-serving café, meaning you can walk around and look at all the delicious meals and snacks on display.

    Table Mountain Café has a set time for breakfast and lunch, just like other restaurants, and the interior design is stylish and comfortable.

    The Wi-Fi Lounge and Table Mountain Gift Shop

    If you have some emails to check or social media pictures you want to post, make a turn at the Wi-Fi lounge. You’ll also find some light meals and snacks there. It’s a great place to just relax and take everything in.

    In addition to the lounge and the café, there’s a gift shop. Here you can do a little shopping and buy things to remind you of your trip. Or, you can buy gifts for the friends and family who couldn’t join you.

     Table Top Mountain Hike and Guided Walks on the Summit

    For all the explorers, there are three hiking trails you can choose from. They will allow you to get to know the summit even better, in addition to giving you more views. You’ll also be at liberty to witness more of the incredible fauna and flora Table Mountain is renowned for. Or, you might opt for the guided walks that are family friendly and very informative. On these walks you’ll learn all about the mountain and interesting facts about the cable car.

    Enjoy the View, Abseil and Watch the Sun Set

    Once you’re on top of the summit, you’ll have a 360 degree of Cape Town. Now, imagine standing a thousand meters above the Mother City and looking down at it. Use the telescope to get a closer look if you want to, but the bird’s eye view is still incredible. Some people will tell you watching the sun set on Table Mountain is probably the highlight of the whole trip. For those who want some adventure before descending, there’s some abseiling thrills available.

    Fauna and Flora

    If you haven’t heard by now, Table Mountain is the home to some of the most beautiful and exclusive plant species in the world. More specifically, it’s home to the Fynbos species, which are threatened by erosion and fire. It’s also an endangered species. All in all there are almost 1500 different plant species to be seen on Table Mountain, and the National Park is the single floristic area on the planet.

    Table Top Mountain Hike

    As for the animal life, there’s an extraordinary range of birds, but it’s definitely not the only animal you’ll see. Do yourself a favor and find a quiet and secluded spot, then just sit for a few minutes. Among the animals you’ll definitely spot are dassies and lizards. There are also some rare frogs, such as the Table Mountain ghost frog. In terms of snakes, there are more than 20 different species, as well as South Africa’s largest rodent, namely the porcupine. Add to this the mongoose, tahr and eland, and you’ve got some amazing wildlife scenes waiting.

    From the moment you step into the cable car, you’ll see how time flies. There is so much to see, do and explore when going on a Table Top Mountain Hike, you won’t want to come down.

    Skeleton Gorge Table Mountain Hike

    There are more than 50 ways you can reach the top of Table Mountain. And as you might expect, each route holds a different magic. Some are more challenging, while others are more forgiving, making them more popular for friends, families and groups. The Skeleton Gorge Table Mountain hiking route falls more to the latter. However, there are some challenges involved and it’s best to find out what they are from your guide. Some of them are discussed later in the article, along with the scenery, the route and length of the trip.

    The Skeleton Gorge Table Mountain Setting

    The Skeleton Gorge Table Mountain hike starts off at the well-known Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. This is the side of the mountain that enjoys the most rainfall, which means there is a beautiful forest atmosphere. The type of vegetation you’re going to see is incredibly rare, because only 0.5% of the African continent is covered by it.  In fact, a big part of the trail is forest related, so get those jungle boots ready.

    Skeleton Gorge Table Mountain
    The route will take you to all the main floral zones, something flower and plant lovers are going to enjoy a great deal. But at the same time you’ll see sections that aren’t visited very much. At the end of the trail you’ll notice that you had the opportunity to look in all directions and view Table Mountain in ways you couldn’t imagine.

    What to Expect

    As mentioned earlier, the hike starts at Kirstenbosch and the overall trip is somewhat steep. To put this into perspective, we’ll be climbing from the 200 meter mark and reach for 800 meters. And while the first part of the hike only includes stepping, there is a ladder section around the halfway mark. At the rocky water stream we’ll have to start using our hands if we want to navigate the rocks, and after that we’ll link into the Smuts Track.
    The incline between the Smuts Track and the highest point on Table Mountain is about 280 meters, and it’s not steep at all. In fact, you can consider the last section of the trip as the easiest part. During this section you should be able to see all the Mother City has to offer in terms of visual beauty. However, the weather needs to play along here. Summer is usually the best time for this hike, but we have to be somewhat cautious due to heavy rainfalls.
    At the end of the hike you’ll descend the mountain via the cable car, so you can relax and enjoy the scenery on the way down.

    Level of Difficulty

    Full disclosure, it’s not the easiest route you can take to the top of the mountain. If you want a hiking trail that will be the least physically challenging, then we suggest the Platteklip Gorge route. However, you don’t have to be a house of fitness to enjoy the Skeleton Gorge trail. Given the length of the trip, just get ready to push yourself at certain sections. What really makes it worth the while is the less traveled sections you’ll get to see, along with the amazing nature scenes.

    Length of the Hike

    The average time it takes to reach the top of the mountain is about 4 hours, and the distance we’ll cover is about 6km. In terms of elevation, we’ll be climbing 900 meters in total.

    Who will enjoy it?

    If a dense forest is something that tickles your fancy, in addition to all kinds of rare plant species and lizards, then you can’t go wrong with the Skeleton Gorge Table Mountain hike. Apart from experiencing the exceptional nature that can only be associated with Table Mountain, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of Cape Town. This is the type of trail that will really get you into the spirit of hiking, but won’t leave you heaving halfway through.

    Table Mountain – Platteklip Gorge Hike

    Table Mountain – Platteklip Gorge Hike

    Table Mountain is the majestic icon of Cape Town. It’s one of the biggest reasons why the Mother City gets so much exposure, and it’s a magnet for people in search of memorable sights. Instead of taking the cable car, why don’t you scale that ever elusive mountain with a hiking route? More specifically, why not try a Platteklip Gorge hike with Walk in Africa?

    Some History and Interesting Facts Regarding the Platteklip Gorge Hike

    Once you set out on the Platteklip Gorge hike route you will be walking in the footsteps of people like António de Saldanha. The first time a European was recorded ascending the trail in 1503, it was this guy who did it. He’s also the first European who docked in what is now known as Table Bay.

    Platteklip Gorge is the most direct route to the top of the mountain, because it splits the cliffs of the main plateau. It doesn’t come without its challenges, but it’s very safe and it doesn’t take the whole day to reach the top. In fact, it’s one of the most popular hiking routes in Cape Town.

    Table Mountain – Platteklip Gorge Hike

    What to Expect from the Hike

    As mentioned earlier, the Platteklip Gorge hiking route is the alternative to the cable car rides. For the people in the cable car the picture of Table Mountain is completed by the hikers at the bottom, wrapping their minds around how amazing the experience is. Provided that there are more plant species on Table Mountain than you’ll find in the entire UK, it’s only natural to expect a lot of inspirational sights. The diverse birdlife alone is worth the trip, but it’s definitely not the only reason why the hike is so incredible.

    It all starts with a somewhat steep ascend, which is considered a good warm-up for the rest of the trip. For the most part it’s as effortless as you’ll get, which is a rare element where scaling large mountains is concerned. And the first thing you’ll notice on this trip is the refreshing air, along with a renewed lust for life.

    The weather conditions will influence what you’ll be able to see. For example, if it’s a clear day then prepare to see Cape Town in all its glory. From the coastline to the city centers, you’ll have a view that no amount of money can ever buy. On days when mist dominates the air you can rest assured the atmosphere will substitute for the lack of visuals. It’s hard to put into words what it’s like to make your way up Table Mountain while the mist lightly decorates the cliffs, because it’s simply that amazing.

    At the top of the mountain there is a restaurant where you can rest and regain your energy. There’s also a telescope from which you can look out on the Atlantic seaboard. If you don’t feel like taking the hike back, you can simply descend with the cable car.

    We could try to paint a picture with as many creative words as possible, but there is simply no way to justify how wonderful this experience is going to be. We can tell you that it keeps getting more beautiful the higher you go, or that you’ll see things you never thought you would see in your life. But it’s something you have to live through in order to appreciate it.

    Level of Difficulty

    The requirements for hiking the Platteklip Gorge route are simple. Firstly, you need the right gear. Secondly, you don’t have to be a fitness junky to make the trip. It’s a straight-up walk without any scampering or climbing. Anybody with a modicum of fitness can manage this steep ascent, and it’s an experience the family can enjoy together. Nobody has to be excluded from the trip.

    How Long will it Take

    The average time it takes to ascend Table Mountain following the Platteklip Gorge hike route is about 2 hours and 30 minutes. This can vary with 30 minutes give or take, depending on the size of the group.

    Who Will Enjoy it?

    This is the type of hiking trail that everyone can appreciate, because it doesn’t require a high level of fitness and it can be done in under 3 hours. At the same time it provides an amazing sense of accomplishment. In other words, people with little time on their hands and big expectations in their hearts can easily fit this hiking trip into their holiday schedule.

    What elephant problem?

    Our choice of words and the way in which we use them, strongly influence the understanding and perception of those who hear them.

    I recently completed an extraordinary safari with wonderful people from Belgium. On this safari we had special times with elephants, approaching them on foot and having them enter our camp.

    We saw magnificent elephants in magnificent settings

    We saw the agile elephants of Mana Pools

    We saw very many elephants

    Sadly there were also areas where we saw very few elephants but where in previous years I had seen hundreds of elephants. We heard about National Parks losing 3 elephants per day!

    I regularly hear “conservationists” talking about the “elephant problem” and the need to “cull” elephants. Well there is no “elephant problem”. There is a human problem that is decimating elephant populations and forcing the remaining elephants into smaller and smaller areas. For as long as we continue referring to this issue as “The elephant problem” we will fail to recognise the real problem. And the so called “elephant problem” will never go away for as long as the human population continues to grow at its current rate and continues to devour land and resources.

    I have a similar problem with the term “elephant cull”, which is just a euphemism for KILLING elephants. It is a way of sanitising the wholesale slaughter of sentient beings that possess just as strong a value on family as humans have. It would be more honest to say that we need to slaughter elephant families because we have a human problem!