We all know that Cape Town is jam-packed with beautiful views, beautiful people and delicious food. But, forget the sandy white beaches and popular restaurants because taking to the trails is where you will get a chance to experience Cape Town at its finest.
1. Run Table Mountain Trail Tour
Time: 2 and a half to 3 hours
Table Mountain is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World and we couldn’t agree more. With breathtaking panoramic views, you are spoilt for choice.
This challenging trail run starts with a gentle incline up a contour path that runs along the mountainside and up the face of the mountain. Once you reach Platteklip Gorge the pace will pick up a bit as you gain speed towards Devil’s Peak.
You have some time to catch your breath and take in the views in between climbing where you will be able to see the famous city bowl. On the way, down you have two options – you can go back along the tarred road (a distance of 8km) or the more adventurous route along the undulating trails through Deer Park (11km).
#FUNFACT: The flat top of Table Mountain gets a covering of clouds, often referred to as the Table Cloth. These clouds are formed when a south-easterly wind is directed up the mountain’s slopes into colder air. The moisture condenses to form the ‘table cloth’ of the cloud. Legend attributes this phenomenon to a smoking contest between the Devil and Van Hunks, a local pirate who resides on Devil’s Peak.
2. Chapmans Peak
Time: 4 hours
This hike will take you through an enchanting nature reserve and give you the opportunity to experience one of the world’s most beautiful coastal views. Starting halfway up the famous Chapmans Peak Drive, the hike takes you on an ascent to the summit, which offers a unique 360-degree view of the Cape Peninsula. After a hard climb, spend some time at the top refuelling whilst taking in the beauty that surrounds you.
3. Constantia Nek
Level: Easy (depending on the route you take)
Time: 2 or more hours
This hike is picturesque and enjoyable for anyone. The Constantia Nek hike up to the reservoirs has views from up high that are breathtaking. You can choose to walk up the winding dirt road, which is the easier option and will take a little longer, but the road is less steep and perfectly manageable for any amateur hiker. If you’re up for something a little more challenging, skip the winding road and take the steeper wooden stairs that will deliver you to the start of the Jeep track in no time. Depending on your fitness level, the stairs can tire you out, so choose wisely! From here on it’s an easy route with only a few uphill climbs.
4. Silvermine Elephant’s Eye
Time: 2 or more hours (you can stop and have a picnic)
This easy, but beautiful hike starts off at the Silvermine Nature Reserve car park where signposts will direct you to the starting point. The walk through the nature reserve offers beautifully refreshing pools along the way, so don’t miss the opportunity to jump in and cool off. Once you get to the famous Elephant’s Eye cave, the view is spectacular – perfect for a little picnic or shady rest before heading back.
#FUNFACT: This hike gets its name from the shape of the mountain and the placement of the cave. From afar, the mountain looks like an elephant’s head and the cave is in the exact spot where an eye should be.
5. Newlands Forest
Level: You choose how far you want to go
Time: It’s all up to you
One of the best features about going for a hike or a walk in Newlands Forest is that you get to decide where you want to go and how you want to get there with multiple interconnecting trails. There are marked paths in the forest for you to follow, or you can tap into your inner explorer and find your way through the forest.
The trails are shaded by overhanging trees so you are always sheltered from the sun, and to some degree, the rain. A picturesque river runs through the forest and the gentle babble of a stream can be heard as you explore the forest trails. If you want to make a day of your trip to Newlands Forest, there is a section where you can have a picnic.
6. Woodstock Cave
Time: 3-4 hours
This moderate hike starts at the Rhodes Memorial above the University of Cape Town. This heritage site is of huge historical importance and the perfect vantage point for beautiful city views. There is also a restaurant and tea garden to enjoy at the site, so stop for a light snack and plenty of photo opportunities.
The hike kicks off with an ascent to the King Block House, which provides a watchman’s view of the glimmering water of Table Bay below. It continues with an easy contour path that hugs the slopes of Devil’s Peak towering above. The final stretch is an easy climb up to a sheltered stretch of the cave where you can rest, refuel and take in the panoramic views of Cape Town from beneath the shady rocks of the cave.
7. A run-up Lion’s Head
Time: 1 hour
Lion’s Head may be one of Cape Town’s most popular hikes with locals and foreigners alike. Head off the beaten track and onto a trail to enjoy an easy run around the base of Lion’s Head and Signal Hill. The trail is only 8.5km and it will take your breath away with the stunning views of Cape Town and the Atlantic Seaboard.
On your way up you will have the chance to learn about Robben Island, which you will be able to see from a distance. You will also see the Kramat, which forms an important part of the Cape’s Islamic history. Embrace the tranquillity of the run, but if you head up around noon keep an ear open for the firing of the Noon Day Gun at Lion Battery.