A trip to any country in Africa guarantees a diverse and cultural experience, and for the hiking enthusiast, a collection of exceptional mountain ranges and hiking trails to discover. Cape Town, known locally as the ‘Mother City’ has some of the best hiking trails in South Africa, the most famous of them being on Table Mountain, which is pretty hard to miss. But there are plenty of other mountain regions and diverse landscapes to explore in the city.
1. TABLE MOUNTAIN, SKELETON GORGE TRAIL
Table Mountain is by far the most famous mountain in Cape Town. Voted one of the 7 wonders of the world, the mountain towers above the city and can be enjoyed from endless vantage points.
The Skeleton Gorge hiking trail takes you up the Eastern side of Table Mountain. You’ll start in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and hike around 7kms for 4 hours depending on your level of fitness. The trail ends at Maclear’s Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain at 1086m above sea level. Here you will be rewarded with incredible panoramic views of the city and ocean. Sunsets do not get much better than from this vantage point.
The trail is not for the weak. You will need to be very fit to take it on and prepare for the hike in advance. There are slippery stone steps, steep rocky sections, and wooden ladders to overcome along the way.
2. CONSTANTIA NEK TO THE TABLETOP
If you’re looking for an easier hiking route to the top of Table Mountain than Skeleton Gorge, consider taking the trail from Constantia Nek to the Table Top. It’s the easiest hiking route to the top and from here you can take the cable car down the mountain. The trail is about 16kms long and mainly follows a jeep track which makes for easy walking. You’ll pass DeVilliers Dam and Woodhead Dam where you will cross the dam wall. Below the wall is the only area of Table Mountain that is restricted, don’t cross into it.
3. LIONS HEAD
If you have ever seen pictures of the remarkable Table Mountain, you will have noticed the mountain slope next to it. When looking at it from a certain angle, it resembles the head of a Lion, with the rump being Signal Hill. This hike up and down takes around 3 hours and some climbing is required, but there are handholds and chains to help you on steeper sections. If you aren’t feeling that adventurous, you can walk around these but it takes another 30mins and is also quite steep. This is totally an Instagram worthy location and you will notice all the locals posting their sunrise – and sunsets pics from the beacon on the top
The absolute best time to experience this hike is during a full moon. It’s an incredible experience sitting under the stars with your path lit by the moonlight. It is quite popular to do this so you will most likely find many fellow hikers with the same idea.
4. DEVILS PEAK
Devil’s Peak is next to Table Mountain in the Table Mountain National Park. It is connected to the mountain by the Saddle, which is where your trail begins. You can get to the Saddle in one of three ways; the Tafelberg route, which is best for beginners, the Mowbray route starting at Rhodes Memorial which is slightly more difficult or the Newlands Ravine which is the most challenging route, but the most shaded as well, making it ideal for Summer.
Each trail takes about 4 hours and brings you right to the top of Devil’s Peak. It gets very windy at the top and can be chilly – make sure to bring a warm jacket regardless of how warm it is during the day. You’ll get some of the best panoramic views of Cape Town and the Pacific Ocean.
5. CHAPMANS PEAK
Take a drive along Chapmans Peak, it is magnificent. Collect a day pass at the ticket booth near Hout Bay and park your car at the picnic site. From here you will start your hike to the top of Chapmans Peak. The trail is only about a 2 or 3-hour walk but offers the best 360-degree views of Hout Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, and even the Cape Winelands. It starts off quite steep, but the path is well maintained. It is a child-friendly trail and there are a lot of flat areas at the top where you can have a picnic.
Sunsets are incredible from the peak, but if you’re planning to go up early make sure you take a flashlight.
6. KALK BAY TO THE AMPHITHEATRE
You’ll begin this trail in Boyes Drive in Kalk Bay and head towards the Amphitheater. It will take you 3 or 4 hours to finish depending on your pace preference and fitness level. You’ll need to be reasonably fit. The trail takes you through stone-filled terrain and indigenous forest areas. You’ll be walking on boardwalks through the forests – be sure to watch your head. From the top, you can see the Hottentots Holland Mountain Range, well-known Seal Island as well as the town of Kalk Bay and Noordhoek Beach. This is another awesome place to have a picnic with the family.
7. CAPE OF GOOD HOPE TRAIL
This is another one for the whole family. A short yet unforgettable trail that takes you through spectacular landscapes and stunning cliff faces. It is a 3km and 2-hour hike that begins at Cape Point. You’ll make your way through fields of fynbos until you arrive at the cliffs of Dias Beach. Followed by a walk to the southernmost tip of the peninsula. Because it is so accessible the path is quite popular, and it is really well maintained. Reaching the southernmost tip of a continent is something for the books – so get your cameras out to capture this memorable moment.
The list could continue were I to bring you all the diverse hiking options Cape Town has to offer. Whether you are looking for short trails, multi-day hikes, coastline hikes or summits with the best views – you can most likely find it in Cape Town. So, next time you find yourself in the Mother City, check out these popular hiking trails for views you will never forget.
About my Guest Author
Mark created Mountain IQ with the goal to become the best online portal for information on the most popular mountain destinations in the world. He has trekked far and wide in Asia, Europe, South America, and Africa. If he isn’t writing for his blog, you’ll find him exploring the outdoors with his partner and wife Mila.
Read about ‘Hiking the Green Mountain Trail in the Overberg‘, a four-day slackpacking trail just outside Cape Town.