Are you planning your trip to South Africa and would like to discover the diverse flora and fauna of the Cape? You want to go hiking, but you are not a professional in this field and do not know which hiking trails you can do? From walks in the coastal forest to hikes on gigantic mountains, the diversity of the Western Cape can hardly be surpassed. Discover the most beautiful one-day hiking trails that make South Africa shine in all its splendour.
Olifantsbos Shipwreck Hiking Trail
Looking for raw beauty and rich history? Then the Olifantsbos hiking trail will hit the bull's eye. The trail's name is reminiscent of a shipwreck at Cape Point that the Dutch-born J. K. Van Der Luit suffered with his family in 1963. The wreck still lies on the side of the road, partly hidden under sand, and is now a rusty piece of family history. Another highlight are the Chacma baboons crossing the Olifantsbos Shipwreck Path. Avoid taking food with you as it may attract the baboons. If you are lucky, you will also discover a herd of bucks, the rarest antelopes in the world, which were threatened with extinction at the beginning of the 20th century. As soon as you arrive at Cape Point Nature Reserve, look for signs to Olifantsbos. If you then turn right, you will reach the beach, where there is a parking lot. Just look for the "Thomas T. Tucker" sign, from there all trails start and end again at Olifantsbos. There are three routes, two of which are perfect for beginners. Namely the 3 km long, 1.5 hour long "Thomas T. Tucker shipwreck trail" and the 5 km long, 2.5 hour long "Shipwreck circuit". After leaving a rocky section behind at the beginning, you come to the beach where the path continues. The Thomas T. Tucker Trail ends at the shipwreck, where you can take a rest before heading back. The Shipwreck circuit takes you inland. On this tour you should pass the sign for "Sirkelsvlei" and walk towards "Staavia Edge" until you arrive back at the starting point. A total ascent and descent of about 78 m is to be expected at this trail. An excursion that can hardly be surpassed in variety! Grab a map at the Buffelsfontein Visitor Centre and enjoy a relaxing walk through the Cape Point nature reserve. Family friendly, but children should be around 10 years old. For this hiking experience you should plan about 7 Euro per person. In summer (October-March) you have the possibility to search for wrecks between 6:00-18:00 o'clock and in winter (April-September) between 7:00-17:00 o'clock.
Leopard's Kloof Hiking Trail
Tucked away in the idyllic seaside town of Betty's Bay, one hour from Cape Town, are the Harold Porter Botanical Gardens. The entrance to the Leopard's Kloof Trail is also there. For a deposit of about 3 Euro you get a key with which you can pass. Thus, it goes through the botanical gardens where there are several trails, but the Leopard's Kloof is one of the most beautiful. The narrow gorge of the Leopard's Kloof is a three kilometres long and approximately 1-1.5 hour park walk. Although this is suitable for the whole family, it is not a walk, as one has to climb the rocks further and further with the help of ladders. The path leads through dense coastal forest surrounded by limestone Fynbos and Renosterveld. The large cliffs of Elephant Rock Mountain offer spectacular views during your trip. As the name suggests, with luck there is also a leopard to spot. Although no leopard is spotted on this day, the animals are very close and their scratches are clearly visible on the trees. The end of Leopard's Kloof is crowned by a beautiful waterfall that invites you to linger. The Leopard's Kloof hiking trail is also ideal for younger children under the age of 10.
La Motte hiking trail
Would you like to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a few hours and spend a romantic day together? Our partner winery La Motte offers you not only first-class wines, but also a wonderful excursion into nature. The circular route, which begins at the La Motte Tasting Room, stretches over 5 kilometres and offers you a perfect picnic spot right after the first half, promising peace and relaxation. During the walk you will have the opportunity to admire a rich bird life, a Protea garden, sustainably cultivated vineyards, a rich flora, native mammals and reptiles as well as a breathtaking view of the Franschhoek Valley. You should plan about 2-3 hours for this hiking experience. If you would like to bring children with you, this is only possible from an age of approx. 10 years, as the trail requires a certain degree of fitness. Guided hikes are offered every Monday morning at around 8 am. The cost is about 7 Euro per person and bookings can be made online at www.la-motte.com If you prefer a romantic excursion with only two people, you can simply put a map, a La Motte wine and picnic provisions in your hiking backpack and forget the time.
Olifantsbos Shipwreck (© Andy Harvie / www.shutterstock.com)/ Leopard's Kloof Waterfall (© Mark Booysen / www.shutterstock.com)/ La Motte Hiking Trail © La Motte
Tokai Lookout and Elephant's Eye
In Silvermine Nature Reserve, 20 minutes from Cape Town, is one of the most beautiful hiking trails to Elephant´s Eye, a cave with breathtaking views over Tokai and Constantia. To enjoy this view, you are welcome to bring a picnic basket. So you go to the Silvermine Nature Reserve, pay a small fee of about 1,50 Euro per person and after a few kilometres you can park your car on a parking lot. This is also where the hiking trail begins. After approximately half an hour, one reaches a small house, the "Fire Lookout Stone Hut". From here you have an incredible view to the beach of Muizenberg and the False Bay. If you follow the signs, you will reach the cave after another 30 minutes. The ceiling is covered with green fern and it is pleasantly cool. At the beginning and at the end, one passes the Silvermine Reservoir, in which one finds a nice cooling in the dam on hot days. Altogether, one has to plan two hours for the hike. By the way, the name Elephant´s Eye comes from the fact that the mountain supposedly looks like an elephant from a distance and the cave sits at the place of the eye! The way is feasible for everyone, no matter if young or old. This trip is also perfect for dogs. In summer you can walk this trail between 7:00-18:00 and in winter between 8:00-17:00.
Lion's Head hiking trail
A must for every Cape Town lover! The ascent takes about 1 - 2 hours and most of it is not a walk, but easy to do. In the last quarter it gets more challenging and rockier. You have to climb a bit and come to steps that have been carved into the rocks. Don´t worry, because the grab handles and chains help with the climbing. If you don't want to climb, your route will be extended by half an hour. After a total ascent of approx. 424 m you will be rewarded with a fantastic panorama at the end. To the west is Clifton, to the east the City Bowl with Table Mountain and Devil's Peak, to the south Camps Bay and to the north the Atlantic Seaboard with Robben Island in the background. To admire the sunset over the Atlantic and the moonrise over the Cape Flats, an ascent on full moon nights is worthwhile. But then you should have a torch with you. Further tips around a trip to Lion's Head can be found here.
Safety tip- What should I consider?
As tempting as all these paths sound, you should take certain precautions in advance, follow the rules and pack the following things in your hiking backpack:
- Familiarise yourself with the route. Buy a map to be on the safe side.
- Don't hike alone. If something happens, nobody is there to help you.
- Pack at least 2 litres of water and if it's hot, even more.
- In summer: start early and avoid the midday sun.
- Pack food.
- Don't forget the sunscreen.
- Have a windbreaker or raincoat ready.
- Wear suitable hiking boots and clothing.
- Avoid hiking when the weather is bad or shortly after it. Hypothermia can be fatal.
- Always carry a fully charged mobile phone with you.
- Avoid walking in the dark or pack a flashlight.
- Take a first aid kit with you.
- Make use of so-called Safety Tracking Services for off-trail hikes. The @SafetyMountain Tracking System is a WhatsApp-based service that tracks your every step of your hike and comes to your aid in an emergency.
© Text Tanja Tenbensel