The best hikes in & around Cape Town
South Africa has some of the most amazing hikes in the world and the best of it all, most of them are on Cape Town’s doorstep. You can hike after or before work or take a weekend off to explore all the beautiful and wonderful routes. It’s a real hiker’s paradise!
This is the first hike I got to do whilst in SA and I loved it. You’ll get to hike up Table Mountain whilst enjoying picturesque views of Cape Town. It’s called India Venster as you’ll reach a point, about mid-way through, where an assemblage of rocks with a hole in the middle resembles a window, letting through beautiful light and mountain views. It’s recommended to do this hike with a guide as it requires a bit of climbing as well. I found Martin on Airbnb experiences and couldn’t be happier, he’s a knowledgeable and passionate guide. I was the only on the tour too which made the experience a lot more enjoyable too as I could go at my own pace all along.
Fitness level: Moderate
Duration: I did it in 2 hours one way. The guide said on average people can take up to 3-3.5 hours to go up. You can decide to go down by foot or simply take the cable car down. If you’ve got weak knees, the latter is recommended and the cable car is a cool experience too.
Starting point: The bottom of the cable cars office.
Ideal starting time: In the summer month, it’s recommended to start the hike as early as possible, we headed off at 6:30am. If you’re not afraid of the heat you can start later and enjoy a magnificent sunset at the top too.
This is a great little hike and boasts some of the best coastal views. It only takes about 1hour to complete and at the top you’ll get to enjoy a 360 picturesque view of the ocean. There’s an option to do the hike up and down the same way or to start from Chapman’s peak and end on Noordhoek beach or vice versa. The issue is that you’ll need a car on both ends or pre-arrange for a taxi to pick you up. It was fine for us to get a taxi there but we got stuck at the end of the hike as no Uber would come pick us up. We literally had to hitchhike our way back.
Fitness level: Easy/Moderate
Duration: 2-3hours with breaks round trip.
Starting point: Chapman’s peak hiking trail start point.
Ideal starting time: We started at midday which could sound like a bad idea but it was quite windy so the heat wasn’t bad. Also, the cloud tend to clear out in the afternoon so it’s probably best to start the hike later in the PM and wait for sunset. Beware, it’s quite windy at the top so take some extra layers too.
This other route through Table mountain is probably one of the most magical, literally. You’ll start the hike in the beautiful Kirstenbosh Botanical garden, hike up a steep hill and end at the Healy-Hutchison reservoir, a beach nesting on top of a mountain. It’s unreal to find a beach up there, it really is quite a unique experience! It’s also a much needed cold dip after the sweaty climb up! Don’t forget your swimsuit.
Going down, you’ll have a few options, go down the where you came (boring) ; walk an extra 45min to the cable cars and hop on one of these (lazy) OR take this sumptuous route called the nursery ravine. It’s the longest way down but has the most amazing views, also a lot of the route can be done in the shade which is a plus!
Starting point: Kirstenbosh Gardens
Fitness level: Moderate-high level
(the first climb is quite tenuous and requires a little climbing too)
Duration: 5hours+ (round trip)
Ideal starting time: Starting as early as possible is always the recommendation, about 6-7 hours
This is probably the most popular hike in Cape Town as it’s quick and easy to complete, nevertheless the views and the sunset/sunrise there are more than spectacular. I even did this hike as an after work activity which really helped decompress. There are two routes you can take, one is longer & doesn’t require any climbing, the other is quicker but you’ll have to use a ladder going up so not for the heights sceptics.
Starting point: Lion’s head hiking trail (signal hill)
Fitness level: Easy
Duration: 1.5 - 2hours (round trip)
Ideal starting time: Best time would be to start just before sunset and/or sunrise so depending on the season this can vary. The hike is also very popular during the full moon as it makes the way down in the dark most visible, you’ll also get to enjoy full moon and sunset views all at once. I think the sunset probably has the nicest view as the sun goes down on the ocean VS sunrise where it does down on the city.
Cape Town has got 3 summits to climb, Lion’s Head, Table Mountain and Devil’s peak. If you’ve completed the three of these you’re a legend… or just a hiking enthusiast like myself. Devil can be a little challenging as there’s a steep hill up and absolutely no shade so it’s best to climb this one early doors. Although we went later in the day and had the viewpoint all to ourselves. The best thing about Devil’s peak hike is you get to admire views of Cape Town city, Table Mountain and Lion’s head. I’ts a must-do for sure!
Starting point: Tafelberg road parking lot
Fitness level: Moderate-High
Duration: 2 to 3hours
Ideal starting time: Early doors, 6-7am
Steenbras River Gorge
This one is a bit further out of town but totally worth the detour, especially if you’re into Waterfalls. It’s a hike with lots and lots of these. You can also climb above one of them and check the water falling from the top. You will need permit for this, the weekend ones usually get sold out quickly so prepare your trip in advance or opt for a weekday slots instead as they are much easier to come about.
Starting Point: It’s a little tricky to find, just follow the R44 and keep an eye out for a little bridge with signs for the hike.
Fitness level: Easy
Duration: 2 to 6hours+
This one really depends how long you want to chill by the waterfalls. We met a bunch of Germans who just took acid and probably stayed there overnight.
Ideal starting point: Anytime although the entrance closes at 5pm (I think).