The Cape’s hiking trails are sometimes steep and sometimes challenging but always packed with splendour, wildlife, and adventure.
The Cape bears a lofty and well-deserved reputation as a prime destination for outdoor lovers. The undulating farmlands and vineyards of the city’s outskirts taper into a rocky and rugged peninsula that strikes out towards the divide between the mighty Indian and Atlantic Oceans. With such diverse landscapes, scenic views so beautiful they’ll just about bring you to tears, and rich pockets of nature to explore, our city is indeed an outdoor enthusiast’s Eden and hiking, a favourite pastime.
Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain, and Lion’s Head
Standing sentry over the city bowl is a rocky trifecta of limitless potential for exploration: Devil’s Peak, Table Mountain, and Lion’s Head. The city-facing slopes of these three megaliths offer hikers of all fitness levels a vast network of nature trails. All three are popular and yield spectacular views, but Lion’s Head has got to be the most heavily populated, with her ascension route becoming congested in the early morning and around sunset.
Other popular hiking trails in this area include Platteklip gorge, a 3-hour, quad-bustingly steep hike that leads to the summit of Table Mountain; Pipe track, an easy-going 4-hour walk that follows the contour path around the northwest-facing slopes of Table Mountain Nature Reserve; and Devil’s Peak, an exhilarating 4-hour hike along the saddle of Table Mountain and then a steep ascent to the summit.
Forest Walks and Trails
On the other side of the peninsula range, where visiting cold fronts originating from the Southern Ocean drop their heaviest rainfall, the landscape changes from one of boulder-strewn, Fynbos clad mountain slopes and rocky cliffs to thick forest. In places like Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Skeleton Gorge, and Constantia Nek, and Cecilia, Orangekloof, and Newlands forest, a thick overhead canopy shields hikers from the sun and perfumes the air with pine, while waterfalls, running streams, and forest birds provide an enchanting soundtrack. Trails through these forested regions are mostly well-defined, and some even have picnic spots where visitors can stop for a breather.
Wine Farm Hiking Trails
The Cape is home to close to 20 wine routes and estates that can be counted in their hundreds. A great assortment of these pay homage to their spectacular natural surroundings by dedicating a percentage of their acreage to wilderness and Fynbos preservation, which, in many cases, guests can explore by foot. La Motte (Franschhoek), Thelema (Stellenbosch), Zevenwacht (Kuils River), Lourensford (Helderberg), and Meerendal (Durbanville) are just a handful of such wine farms. And what better way could there be to conclude a hike than with a wine tasting and lunch at a beautiful wine estate?
Our natural heritage is a gift
We have, on our literal doorstep, vast acres of preserved wilderness with yawning views of craggy mountains, quilted farmlands, shimmering azure ocean, and often all three at once. Our mountains are carpeted with a unique vegetation biome that is found nowhere else on Earth and anywhere you might wander is likely inhabited by rich, colourful birdlife and animals, such as baboons, dassie, mongoose, eland, zebra, genets, porcupines, and even caracals. Is it no wonder that the Cape has become such a popular hiking destination.
The only question remaining is when next do you plan to tread the Cape’s trails?