Hiking in Cape Town is a popular activity and provides some of the best opportunities for getting the best views without the crowds. The Southern coastline of the Cape Peninsula is a perfect place to take advantage of these sunshine-filled winter days. Plenty of hikes and leisurely walks dot the Peninsula between Smitswinkel Bay and Kommetjie – in the mountainous area of the Table Mountain National Park. With accommodation facilities perfect for unprecedented star gazing – walks can be enjoyed in a single afternoon, or over two, three, even four days!
Premium hiking sites abound in the area and the range of trails takes you through a botanical treasure trove of unspoilt views. Set out on coastal walks, beach strolls, wetland wanderings, boulder scrambles, river rambles, bumpy mountains, lofty peaks and even steep cliffside ascents- there is a trail for everyone and for every fitness level.
Hiking or walking can be done independently or with a qualified guide. Hiking with a guide will give you the opportunity to learn more about the diversity, density of the fynbos vegetation, birdlife, ecosphere and natural history of the region. The Cape Floral Region is a UNESCO World Heritage site due to its status as one of the richest areas for plants in the world. Despite representing less than 0.5% of the area of Africa, it is home to nearly 20% of the continent’s flora. This world heritage site displays outstanding ecological and biological processes associated with the Fynbos vegetation, which is unique to the Cape Floral Region.
Table Mountain National Park has established a unique set of eco-friendly Tented Camps along the route of the Hoerikwaggo Trail, an epic 5-day trail starting at Cape Point in the south ending at the foot of Table Mountain in the north. The Hoerikwaggo Tented Camps are positioned at Smitswinkel, Slangkop, Silvermine and Orangekloof. These rest stops offer well-deserved relaxation time for tired feet and weary bodies – they can be booked as part of the Hoerikwaggo Trail, or as stand-alone accommodation.
There are also a number of other walks in around the southern section of Table Mountain National Park, including scheduled free guided walks inside the Cape of Good Hope, run by the park’s voluntary Honorary Rangers. From the Tented Camp at Slangkop there are again a number of day walks, perfectly suitable for all ages and fitness levels too. Many of these walks will also train your eye at spotting Oyster Catchers, Cape Clawless Otters, dolphins and whales!
Take advantage of the “champagne days” in the Cape with the SANParks Cape Region Winter Special – offering a 20% off camping and accommodation in all Cape Region national parks during June and July. Terms and Conditions apply. For more information on these fantastic discounts, click here.
Here is a sample of some of the most popular hikes on the Cape Point Route. Please note there are many more hikes and walks available.
Silvermine Nature Reserve
This enjoyable, all-seasons hike takes you through rare indigenous forest to the most splendid viewing positions surveying the Peninsula. The route along the central stream takes you to a mountain reservoir which has its own sense of peace and tranquillity. You can follow these amazing views towards the Constantiaberg with a retreat into a well-known cave known as the Elephants Eye.
Silvermine River Waterfall.
Opposite the entrance to the Silvermine nature reserve is the entrance to the Waterfall route. During winter this route is a must as the volume of water that pours over the waterfall is impressive. The route is really a circular jeep track that touches the mountain edges above Muizenberg, Kalk Bay and Fish Hoek. There is no strenuous effort required and the area is very tranquil. A pleasant light walk of 75 mins round trip.
Kalk Bay Caves
This is one of the best hikes in the peninsula and features a short step hike of about 4km. You start directly above Kalk Bay harbour, on the scenic Boyes Drive and look for the Echo Valley sign which will lead you up to six caves. The caves are safe and well ventilated but take torches, old clothes and some string as they are sandstone caves with sandy floors. An unusual diversion is to go into Boomslang cave which is a short distance of about 100 metres but literally goes completely through the mountain, with most adults having to crawl the last 10 metres. There are a couple of routes and actually 67 caves!
Peers Cave, Fish Hoek
This short, easy stretch above the dunes in Fish Hoek will take you to Peers Cave, one of Fish Hoek’s most important sites. Walking up takes about 20 minutes. This was the site of the 15 000 year old human remains of “Fish Hoek Man” found in 1927 by Victor and Bertram Peers. The cave is now a national monument and affords wonderful views across the valley and a peep in to stone-age history. Parking can be found on 21st Avenue, Fish Hoek.
Cape of Good Hope
The Cape of Good Hope is the south-westernmost point of Africa in the Table Mountain National Park. Enjoy a short walk along the hiking trail from the car park in front of the sign to the top of the mountain. The walk is less than 1km but fairly steep with phenomenal views and the bonus of arriving at the original lighthouse.
Cape Point Nature Reserve
For those with more stamina, hiking in the Cape Point Nature Reserve involves a good six hours of rambling through unspoiled flora and fauna, juxtaposed by beautiful beaches and a welcome sense of remoteness. There are many trails in the park, beautiful beaches and cliff areas to explore as well as spotting antelope, over 1200 species of vegetation and birds such as the Cape Siskin and Cape Sugarbird.
A Sandy Walk to the Kom
Starting along Noordhoek Beach, this scenic beach walk takes you past the wreck of the Kakapo, an unfortunate ship that steamed onto the beach in the early 1900’s. Meandering around the next corner reveals Bokram beach, a surfers hideaway close to the quiet resort village of Kommetjie. Further still is a tall lighthouse marking a rocky outcrop known as Slangkoppunt. A superb place to see the sunset.
This is a great walk if you are looking for something moderate and not too strenuous. Climb up the steps adjacent to the carpark on Kommetjie road onto the open mountain. The walk is steep in places but well defined with great views of Fish Hoek. The view over False Bay gets better as you reach the summit with panoramic vistas of Simon’s Town and Glencairn. Approximately 2 hour hike.
This walk is easier than it looks and takes about 2 and half hours round trip. The carpark just before the top of Chapman’s Peak Drive is your starting point. There is a short steep start that deposits you on a flat plateau with lots of proteas and birds. Fabulous views of Hout Bay as you round the first peak, then suddenly Chapman’s Peak pops into view and a final assault up the saddle gives you views across to Fish Hoek and even Gordon’s bay on a clear day.
Regardless of which route you choose please be sure to be sure to hike safely. Take enough water with you, remember your sunscreen and pack your rain gear as Cape Town is known to have four seasons in one day. If possible try not to hike alone. And of course, follow the age-old hiking tradition – take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints.
IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR HIKERS: Useful emergency contact details to take with you.
Emergency SAPS (South African Police Services): 10111 (02110111 on cell)
Cape Town emergency Services: 021 480 7700
Emergency Cape Town Central OPS centre: 021 467 8002
Fish Hoek Emergency Control Centre: 021 782 0333
Sea Rescue (NSRI): 082 911
Emergency Table Mountain Cable Car Company: 021 424 0015
Mountain Rescue – Metro EMS: 021937 0300
Metro Ambulance Service: 10177
Cape Medical Response: 082 782 4444 (24 hour emergencies)
Cape Town Weather: 082 231 1640
Like us or follow us for the latest news, events and happenings in the south peninsula of Cape Town or join our mailing list to receive our monthly newsletter.