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Posted on: Tuesday, 26 February 2013
South African Hiking Trails

A Morning Hike Up Lions Head

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Hiking up Lions Head

Hiking up Lions Head

My alarm went off at 06h00, completely unusual for a Saturday morning. But this morning there would be no lie in, I was off to meet friends for a morning hike up Lions Head. We’d been worried about the weather because for the past few days Cape Town had been blustering and windy and quite unpleasant. This morning we were in luck, not a breath of wind and such a gorgeous day – it is days such as these that really make me appreciate living in the Mother City.

I’m not an experienced hiker by any means and am definitely not at my desired fitness level, but I had the spirit and determination to get myself up to the top. We all had plenty of water and Sean was the experienced man who brought along a bag of jelly sweets, which were a welcome sugar relief halfway up.It seemed that half of Cape Town had the same idea as we did for doing a hike up Lions Head as there were cars lined for miles at the bottom of the mountain. We parked our car at the first open spot we found and made a fairly long walk to the start of the hike. How to make yourself feel bad is when you see the number of people already making their way down the mountain and to top it off many of them were jogging!


Lions Head

Photographs: Left – Look at the gorgeous fynos / Right – The spot where you can tandem-paraglide from

It was before 08h00 and already swelteringly hot, thank goodness the first half of the hike is relatively shady. I have not hiked up Lions Head in years and I’d forgotten what a gorgeous hike it is. Because you’re walking round and round almost as if you’re heading to the top of a twirly-whirly soft serve ice cream you have the most magnificent views of the city and sea from every turn. It really shows you just how beautiful Cape Town is and it allows you to take a breathe of air if you’re not as fit as you’d like to be.

When you get closer to the top there are two options to get up there. The more popular and quicker route is known as the “chains”, this has improved since the last time I made the hike up. They used to just be chains that you would pull your pull up with, or that is what I can remember. They now have very useful foot and hand holds that make this route an easy option – if you’re not a scardey cat like I am. The other option is a slightly longer route but you carry on walking round and round and avoid the direct route up.


Lions Head

Photographs: Left – Doesn’t the sea look inviting? / Right – Can you spot the cable car station?

When asked which route we’d like to go on, I think my friends saw through my brave face and nochelant response of “um, yeah we can go up the chains if you want”. So glad they saw through me and realised I was slightly terrified of this option! We made the walk round and I was so glad we did, the views were incredible and we found a little spot in the shade to enjoy the view.

It was then a final push up to the top with words of encourgement coming from those who had made the top and were making their way down. What was wonderful to hear were the variety of voices from all over the globe, but the majority coming from South Africa. Love it when we enjoy our own country!

The views from the top of stunning, but it can be pretty crowded up there. We didn’t stay up top for too long and it was cooking up there without any shade so we made our descent. With slightly shaky legs we made it down in record time.


Lions Head

Photographs: Left – Views of the city / Right – We made it to the top!

If you haven’t been up Lions Head you really should make an effort, it’s a great hike out and you can celebrate with a delicious breakfast afterwards. Don’t forget to take plenty of water, suncream and hats are a must and a few snacks for when your energy levels have dropped.

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Tania Stephenson


Tania loves to cook and create magic in the kitchen for family and friends (or even just herself). Be it finding a new recipe or making a tried and tested dish from her recipe folder - the kitchen is her sanctuary. Find her hanging out with friends round the braai or curled up on the couch reading the latest crime drama. With a spring in her step and a song in her heart you’ll find her supporting local artists in theatre, music and dance – from a hip hop competition or the latest musical on stage at Artscape in Cape Town. Enjoying all things culture she likes to share her experiences and delights with those around her.

You are reading Popular Hiking Trails and Walks in South Africa Series Read more from this series of articles.