With an abudance of geological formations left as a testament to role that nature played in the creation of the coastal city of Cape Town, the city is a sight for sore eyes. Cape Town is a city blessed with a scenic landscape, rugged and inviting natural formations, all of this overlooking one of the world’s six floral kingdoms (despite being the smallest) and the Atlantic Ocean. You can definitely say that Capetonians are quite the lucky bunch and that also means hiking Table Mountain and Lion’s Head is a must when visiting South Africa!
I was told that the typical pre-work workout for locals involve solo hiking South Africa’s Lion’s Head, which standing at 669m is considered a “child’s play” by the superfit population of Cape Town. Those that are new to hiking may take 2-3 hours to climb to the peak, but most Capetonians take less than that (about an hour up and down), so they have time to go hiking, run home to shower and get ready for work.
On the weekends, or for those who want a little bit more challenge, the Table Mountain is there to hike. At 1085m above sea-level, it takes just a bit longer (3-4 hours average) but still doable. If you get tired on the way down, you can use the cable car on the way down. Whichever one of the two you pick, it is highly advisable that you go with someone who knows the route, bring a fully-charged phone, and hike in groups of 4 or more as recommended by the SANParks website.
Despite how scary it sounds, both hikes are fairly doable even for beginners (me!) and even if you don’t workout regularly. These are great for day hikes when visiting Cape Town for a short time. If you have knee issues though, you might want to consider the funicular as the hike involves some very steep sections!
Hiking Table Mountain & Lion’s Head in South Africa
This is my second year hiking with Binny at Ridgeway Rumblers in Cape Town. I rarely do things twice unless it’s good. And Binny is an excellent guide! Read the reviews on TripAdvisor (nothing less than a 4 star!) I opted to join a hiking group rather than go hiking myself as it is recommended and I wasn’t too confident navigating the paths myself.
Please note that I was not compensated to write this review nor did I receive a free trip in exchange. I paid the full R650 for the hike this year and last year and only hope that this review helps you in your research and to promote small/family-owned businesses in Cape Town!
The first time I hiked with her was in a group of 6, visiting the famous Table Mountain National Park (1085m) and I loved the experience so much that I chose to go with her again the following year. The first time we hiked Table Mountain, I was part of a group of 6 and had a varying physical level/condition so she brought along her husband who made sure that anyone falling behind is always with someone watching their back.
Hiking Table Mountain and Lion’s Head As a Group
Both Binny and her husband pay close attention to all the hikers, and always prioritizes everyone’s safety ahead of speed. I recalled that we stopped more often last year to give everyone a chance to break and drink a bit of water. She is all about “slow and steady” so I never felt unsafe, or felt like I was falling behind significantly.
Binny and her husband were really easy to talk to and have an amazing knowledge of the flora/fauna in the area. It’s something that is a great conversation if you’re into the environment! They’re also great to talk to so you can keep your mind off of the hike! She really focuses on ensuring that everyone is having a good time despite the physical challenge of hiking a mountain and a hill especially if you spent too much time sitting in the office like myself!
Aside from the fact that it is very easy to get lost on the hiking trail, and some reported theft/crimes (though I haven’t come across anything like it) Binny is an excellent friend to have on the hiking trail. Some of the areas are not as well-marked as others. Plus when you’re doing a bit of scrambling and coming down, Binny helps point out which areas are slippery and not stable.
Hiking both Table Mountain and Lion’s Head with a guide or a local is a much richer experience – trust me! Beyong the safety aspect, there’s so much history and flora/fauna knowledge you can pickup during this 3-4 hour trek (Table Mountain) or 1-2 hour hike. She is very helpful in pointing out interesting facts about the city, and the Capetonian life, and willing to play photographer for you.
I’ve had 2 really lucky hikes with Binny, both on a very clear, sunny and cloudless day. For Table Mountain, I hiked up Plattekip Gorge, and on Lion’s Head, we made our way to Wally’s Cave. She brought along banana bread as a snack (it’s become quite legendary on TripAdvisor) and even suggested a customized itinerary when I asked about combining the hikes, without exorbitant fees. On the most recent hike on Lion’s Head, I ended up being the only person booking a hike that day, so it was like having a private tour guide!
Where to Stay in Cape Town
Budget // Cape Town
A centrally-located boutique hostel with bunk bed to single-bed options near Greenmarket SquareBook Here
Budget // Cape Town
Another popular hostel located in Green Point with their in-house adventure tours/trips a short distance from V&A WaterfrontBook Here
Budget // Cape Town
Located on the vibrant Kloof Street, with the Table Mountain in your backyard and its own bar and bunk/twin/double bed options
Comfort // Cape Town
Spacious, stylish and modern with a panoramic view of the Table Mountain, this is comfortable hotel for the familyBook Here
Luxury // Cape Town
For an ultra-luxurious stay, consider this island resort-inspired hotel which features its own infinity pool and is walking distance from main tourist sitesBook Here
Luxury // Camps Bay
The ocean-front hotel based in Camps Bay offers stunning views of the Twelve Apostles and its very own rock pools. There is free transfers to V&A Waterfront
If you decide to go with Binny for your next trip, please let her know that Stephanie from Canada sent you 😉 I promise you that I won’t receive anything in return (there’s probably tons of Stephanie’s that take her tour anyhow!) It’s easy to connect with Binny over her website/contact form. She has always responded to my emails within 24 hours. Don’t forget to check out her blog as well!
Where to Next
- Kruger National Park is the premiere spot for safari in South Africa and here’s how you can do an African safari on a budget!
- If you’re looking to explore all of South Africa, consider taking the BazBus – a hop-on-hop-off cross country bus!
- Here’s how much it costs to go to South Africa as a solo traveller
- Stay connected and get a SIM Card and consider taking rideshare like Uber/Bolt to get around
- Make time to in surf in Muizenberg; here are spots closer to Cape Town