When I first visited Cape Town this April, I was amazed by how many fun activities there are to do. One of my favourites is definitely the endless possibilities to go hiking. Not that I’m normally much of a hiker but I do love a good view and a bit of a workout.
Cape Town is blessed with plenty of hike-able mountains and hiking up Lion’s Head should definitely be on your Cape Town to-do list. Here is your guide to Lion’s Head with tips for your hike including when to go and how to find Wally’s Cave.
View from Lion’s Head
What I loved about the Lion’s Head hike is that you really get the best views from up top. You can see in every direction: the Ocean, Table Mountain, the city bowl, the Twelve Apostles. Even on the way up, you’re always inclined to stop and be astonished by the views.
How much time to plan for the hike
The whole trip took us about 2 hours but we also took a little detour into Wally’s Cave which probably cost us about 30 minutes. The walk starts just a few hundred metres below the parking lot at the foot of Lion’s Head. You can reach this if you take the Lion’s head/Signal Hill turn-off (or take an Uber there). You are circling around the mountain to reach the top.
Difficulty of the Lion’s Head hike
The Lion’s Head hiking trail is about 5 kilometres long and climbs about 500 metres. It’s rather easy to manage and requires only a basic fitness level. It’s rated an A+ hike if you take the easy (normal) route which is smooth and flat for the most part. Close to the top you can opt either for the “recommended route” or “via the chains”. The climb via the chains can seem challenging for some as you will have to climb up a ladder and stones. But don’t worry, there are railings and grips everywhere so you are safe.
The best time to hike Lion’s Head
We initially planned to start the hike at 9 am to avoid the midday sun and heat. But then we had a very cloudy morning and were worried we won’t have any good views. So we waited until it started to clear up. We left around noon when it was still partly cloudy so it was fine. However, when all the clouds had cleared, we were exposed to the sun and heat. We didn’t mind it too much but just keep it in mind and aim to be back down by noon.
Also, sunrise and sunset views are amazing so you may want to start around 5 am to watch the sunrise from Lion’s Head or around 5 pm for the sunset.
How to find Wally’s Cave
Taking a little detour to find Wally’s Cave was a nice little extra adventure and I recommend you try to find it, too. It’s challenging at points so it’s probably best to avoid doing this with little kids or if you don’t feel fit at the moment.
Here are some pointers to help you so you won’t get lost.
Hike up the circular route past the paraglider launch point and up the stairs until you reach the first ladders. Instead of climbing the metal ladder, go around to the left. You will then follow that path until you reach an old bench on your right.
You should be able to see a path there which will take you onto a lower path. Don’t take the higher path because you will end up standing on top of the cave rather than inside it. Take the lower path!
From there on, stay to the right. You may encounter splits to take you down another path but don’t take those. Stay on your path and you will reach a rather smooth looking, steepish wall of rock on the right, stay on that path that hugs the rock wall. The cave is just around the corner from there!
- Always bring enough water, about 1L per person especially when it’s hot.
- Bring a snack in case you feel like you need to refuel.
- Always take your litter away with you – keep the environment clean and the scenery beautiful!
- Wear trainers or other closed shoes to avoid slipping.
- Take extra care when it is wet as the routes can become very slippery and thus more dangerous.
Enjoy your hike!