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My Best Western Cape Day Hikes to Enjoy

Anyone who knows me well can tell you that, if I go on an adventure, chances are it will involve a hike or nature walk. And, over the past few years, I have been fortunate enough to tackle some of the best Western Cape day hikes.

Growing up, I loved exploring the fynbos-covered hills and rocky, barren terrain outside Montagu – it’s probably where my love for hiking began. ๐Ÿ™‚

Upon moving to Cape Town as an adult, I made it my mission to check off as many beautiful day hikes around the Cape as possible.

In this post, I share my top ten day hikes in the Western Cape… so far!

Top Tips for My Best Western Cape Day Hikes

stadsaal-caves

While all the hikes included in this post are reasonably safe – it goes without saying that hiking in nature always has its risks.

There is also sadly crime – even in the most beautiful, natural spaces of the world – so I ask that you please do not hike alone.

Also, please do not assume that all hiking trails are created equal… Some are easy, some moderate and others are definitely difficult! And remember, not all hiking trails are pet- or even child-friendly.

hiking-gear

Here are some practical tips and rules I follow before embarking on any hike:

1) Always hike in groups of at least 2-4 people.

A bigger group is even better. Please just never hike alone. If you get hurt or attacked, it’s much better to be with others. Remember, there is safety in numbers.

2) Pack in plenty of water and energy-replenishing snacks, like health bars, mixed nuts or sandwiches.

3) Always tell someone (staying home) where you are hiking and roughly how long the hike should take.

If you get lost or trapped on the mountain, at least someone knows where you went and can call for help if you haven’t let them know you are safe by the end of the day.

4) Plan your hike in advance.

Do you need a permit? Is it a popular, frequented trail or more isolated (meaning you need to be more cautious)?

Do your research too. What do recent online reviews/other hikers say about the route and general safety? Has the trail deteriorated in some way or become unsafe?

Lastly, check the forecast and find out what the weather/temperature will be on the day of your planned hike. It’s very different hiking most trails in sunny weather versus gale-force winds or rain.

5) Wear comfortable clothing that can be both cool or warm as needed.

hiking-apparel

Exercise/fitness gear is always best – but whatever you wear, ensure you can move freely in it. Don’t wear tight fitting clothing that makes movement and breathing trying.

I normally hike in stretchy, yet insulated fitness gear and I always pack a thick fleece hoodie in. This ensures I can be cool enough when it’s hot – and cosy when it isn’t…

6) Check your shoes are in good shape before your hike.

hiking-takkies

Wear closed-in shoes, like hiking boots or takkies (trainers), with socks and take note of their grip/soles.

If your shoes are not up to the task during a hike, rather turn back (worst case scenario – but better than slipping) or try find an easier path.

7) Take it slowly.

There is no need to break world records when you hike. Rather be safe, aware of your surroundings and don’t push yourself too hard.

If you need to go slowly, stop often or walk carefully, do it.

8) Always be aware of possible danger.

This includes from wild animals, like baboons, and criminals/muggers.

If you are hiking with valuables, keep them well hidden. I normally take a backpack or drawstring bag along for this reason. Bonus: It also protects your camera/phones from falls when you need to hike hands-free.

9) Scan the ground for snakes when you walk.

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There are plenty of dangerous snakes, including Cape cobras, tree snakes and puffadders, in the Western Cape.

Our snakes are most active during summer and spring – but I have even seen snakes out on our farm during autumn or early/late winter.

In general though, tread carefully when you walk. Please avoid stepping on small plants, flowers, insects or even creatures in your path.

10) Don’t attempt a hike that is too far above your hiking fitness level.

If you are unfit or simply new to hiking, it’s unwise to hike a “difficult” route and hope for the best.

Hike difficulty ratings are there for a reason – stick to what you can safely handle.

11) Be courteous to other hikers on the trail.

Stand aside to let others pass on the trail, when needed. Don’t push past people. Offer a hello, nod or smile as you pass.

You don’t have to greet every single person you pass – but be polite and considerate of others.

The same applies if you need to go slowly but are inadvertently causing others to wait – rather ask them if they wish to pass you and step aside.

12) Be aware of the weather.

The Western Cape is known for its weather extremes – from scorching temperatures to gusty gales and freezing, driving rain or dense fog. Especially up in the mountains.

If the weather is taking a turn for the worse, rather call it a day and turn around.

13) Always pack in sunscreen and a warm top.

stadsaal-caves-tamlyn

It might be 30 degrees Celsius outside – but on top of a mountain, it can be like another world.

Mountains are almost always windier and cooler than down on ground level. They can also be prone to swirling mists and dense fogs. So make sure you have enough warm clothing with you. Even a lightweight scarf if you’re someone who feels the cold like me.

Also, the South African sun is fierce so apply sunscreen often and generously, even in seemingly overcast weather. An SPF 50 is a good place to start – and if you do burn during your hike, AfterSun lotion is a lifesaver at home.

14) Charge up your cellphone – but know that cellphone signal may be limited.

I never set off for a hike without a full battery but most times, signal is either non-existent or intermittent.

Don’t rely on cellphone reception but still ensure you have airtime/data and a full battery all the same.

15) Don’t attempt a hike when you are sick.

I don’t care if you have a mild headache or slight cold – hiking is strenuous and you should definitely not do it when you are unwell.

Your body is not operating at its full capacity – and even a normal, easy hike, can take a lot out of you. If you get a fever or actually pass out, it could end up being very bad.

In the past, I previously – and foolishly – made the mistake of hiking when I had a cold and it was one of my worst calls ever… Don’t do it!

Also, if you suffer from any serious medical conditions, please try check with your doctor if hiking is advisable and safe before you set off on any wilderness hike.ย 

16) Leave hiking trails better than you found them.

cape-flora

When hiking, please do not litter or damage the trails, nature or anything else you encounter on your hike. The Cape is filled with indigenous, often rare or protected flora and fauna – please don’t harm it.

Do not pick plants, flowers or even remove stones when you go on hikes. Hiking is not a free-for-all.

Leave only footprints, take only memories…

My Best, Most Scenic Western Cape Day Hikes… So Far

Here, ranked in order of personal preference, are my top ten Western Cape day hikes thus far:

1) Tranquility Cracks Hike (Camps Bay)

tranquility-cracks-hike-best-western-cape-day-hikes

One of the most stunning and rewarding hikes I have ever undertaken in the Western Cape is certainly Tranquility Cracks. It links up with a more popular, well-known hike, the Pipe Track but, to me, comparing these two hikes is like comparing chalk and cheese.

While Pipe Track is certainly an easy, fun hike, with great views, that runs along the Twelve Apostles mountain rangeย  – Tranquility Cracks is sure to blow your mind with its breathtaking beauty, otherworldly rock formations and cracks and all-encompassing views across Camps Bay, the back of Table Mountain, the Atlantic Ocean, Constantia and even Muizenberg in the far, far distance.

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The hike starts at the Pipe Track before picking up a bit of legwork from Woody Ravine and even more so, from Corridor Ravine.

Note: Don’t attempt to go via Slangolie Ravine; it’s treacherous and unsafe.

slangolie-ravine

Sights to Savour Along the Way

There are some fascinating sights along the way. These include the pipes that used to provide mountain spring water for the city, a secret cave that once used to be inhabited by a Royal Navy deserter and a pretty milkwood forest.

The views of the ocean, lay of the land and of course, surrounding mountains is absolutely beautiful from start to finish.

pipe-tracks-cape-town

tranquility-cracks-hiking-trail

Corridor Ravine is the steepest part of the hike and it’s a good point to stop for a break, if you tire.

It’s also quite exposed to the elements, especially on a hot day, so don’t expect shade or shelter from this point on.

corridor-ravine-trail

corridor-ravine

Once you reach the top of the ravine, turn left at the cairn and then proceed onto the rocky structure on your right.

As you crest that section, you should spot a largely concealed path to the left. Follow this through the vegetation to the Cracks themselves.

cairn-hike-guide

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The World Stretched Out Before You

There is something truly humbling and awe-inspiring about standing atop those Cracks, with the world stretched out beneath you.

In the Cracks, there are also mini forests and cave-like areas, which are thrilling to explore.

tranquility-cracks-cape-town

tranquility-cracks

From there, you can either return via Woody Ravine or head back down Corridor Ravine. Both were viable when I hiked a few years ago – so hopefully the same is still true.

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Woody Ravine is a bit hair-raising and slippery in places, with plenty of loose shale, so it’s probably best left to more experienced hikers or avid outdoor enthusiasts acquainted with rougher terrain. Even then, go carefully and slowly.

pipe-track-views

Once you are down, head back via the scenic Pipe Track and soak up more gorgeous views on your return journey.

tranquility-cracks-pipe-track-hikes

Where It Starts:

At Theresa Avenue, via the Pipe Track, Camps Bay.

Permit Required:

No, no permit is required and it is free to hike.

Approximate Hiking Time:

+/- 5-6 hours

Hike Difficulty:

Moderate to hard. (A moderate to good fitness level is essential for this hike.)

Location:

Camps Bay, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

2) Maltese Cross Hike (Cederberg Wilderness Area)

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This moderate, seven kilometre hike is arguably one of the most enjoyable and awesome I have done in recent years. If ever a place is made for hiking and nature lovers, it is the Cederberg Wilderness Area.

There are a number of interesting hikes and natural attractions in the area – including Stadsaal Caves and Wolfberg Arch – but if you are looking for a relatively doable and equally beautiful hike, the Maltese Cross is a perfect hiking choice.

However, it can be very chilly at the top, so I would definitely pack in warm clothing before you set off!

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If you drive from Dwarsrivier Farm – where you will also be able to obtain your hiking permit – the parking lot where the hike commences from is easy to find.

Simply drive past the Cederberg Astronomical Observatory and continue along the winding dirt road until you reach the parking lot.

The hiking trail is not really marked (unless you count stones?) – but it’s a straightforward enough route to trace, as it mostly climbs uphill from the parking lot.

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The Maltese Cross hike offers gorgeous, sweeping views across the valley of the rugged, diverse Cederberg mountains and natural terrain.

Along the way, you may see fields of flowers, gushing crystal streams and rocks aplenty.

wild-flowers-cape-cederberg-region

cederberg-mountains-hike

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While it is pretty much uphill for most of the hike, there are only a few sections that really get your blood pumping and your legs feeling slightly shaky.

But, as one fellow hiker told us on the way, โ€œWhen you get to the point where you feel like you want to give up and turn back โ€“ donโ€™t. Itโ€™s all worth it when you get to the top.โ€ Indeed it is.

maltese-cross-cederberg

Prepare to Feel Small

The hike is especially worthwhile once you reach the main attraction: the Maltese Cross itself. It is the most remarkable stone structure you will find anywhere.

This formidable, five-storey, cross-like rock formation is a sight to behold – and even the tallest man will feel dwarfed under its shadow.

You can spend some time exploring the area around the Cross or enjoy a slightly less tiring, but no less rewarding, hike back down to the parking lot.

For more information on the Maltese Cross hike, pleaseย visit Cape Natureโ€™s website.

cederberg-maltese-cross-hike

Where It Starts:

Cederberg Wilderness Area, near Dwarsrivier Farm/Sanddrif Resort.

Permit Required:

Yes, a permit is required. These can be purchased at Dwarsrivier Farm/Sanddrif Resort.

Approximate Hiking Time:

3-4 hours.

Hike Difficulty:

Moderate.

Location:

Cederberg Wilderness Area, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

3) Paarl Rock Hike (Paarl)

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Paarl Rock hike is one of the most beautiful, family-friendly hikes around.ย It is safe, scenic and special all in one memorable hiking outing.

Overall, the hike is about 2.7 km one way, if you start at Meulwater. (For those with especially young children, you can actually drive straight to Paarl Rock and cut the hike out completely, if needed. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

meulwater-botanical-garden-paarl-mountain-nature-reserve

We started the hike from Meulwater Botanical Garden, itself a lovely local attraction with beautiful flora and lovely, open-air picnic- and braai-spots.

From there, you walk up the road, past the Meulwater Water Treatment Plant and some farmhouses, till you pass the second of two booms. (The first is at Meulwater parking.)

boom-paarl-mountain-nature-reserve

After that, it’s a pretty easygoing upward hike along a well-maintained, broad dirt road. (One which is perfect for walking, riding or driving.)

Views for Days

The views on this hike are amazing from the get-go – but they definitely go up a notch or two as you snake up this road.

paarl-valley-views

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Photo credit: Alicia Chamaillรฉ

Along the road, you will pass beautiful flowers, fynbos and even proteas so have your camera or phone handy for some bloomin’ lovely photos.

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After about a kilometre, you reach the popular Paarl Rock Heritage Site/View Point, where you can park or sit and soak up the surrounding beauty, breathtaking views and of course, Paarl Rock.

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For those who don’t know, Paarl Rock is one of the most famous attractions in Paarl. It is a vast granite outcrop that rises from the mountaintop and overlooks the patchwork farmlands and valleys of Paarl and the surrounding winelands regions.

Paarl Rock is of the most amazing natural attractions I have encountered – especially if you climb up onto it! ๐Ÿ™‚

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There is a wooden staircase part of the way towards the main rocky outcrop but after that, you simply have to use blind faith and walk carefully on the smooth rock’s surface.

Please note: It can be insanely windy atop Paarl Rock so a warm top and careful treading are advised.

If you are uncertain of yourself, just go slowly and step on the rougher parts for added grip. But it’s worth swallowing your fears to stand upon this incredible mammoth boulder.

paarl-rock-hike-paarl-mountain-nature-reserve

Further on, you can hike up the road to other two outcrops, Bretagne and Gordonโ€™s Rocks. There is a viewing spot here and a gorgeous little forest below (accessed via a wooden platform and staircase).

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paarl-rock-hike-walkway

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Photo credit: Alicia Chamaillรฉ

But honestly, climbing up this next section is not for the faint-hearted. We didn’t hike further than the viewing point – but plenty of others did.

If you do climb further up, proper hiking shoes are essential because there is no natural grip here to speak of.ย 

bretagne-gordons-rocks-paarl-mountain-nature-reserve

However far you go, Paarl Rock hike is one of the most rewarding, memorable hikes around and perfect for the whole family to enjoy together.

Where It Starts:

Near Meulwater Botanical Garden parking lot, Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve, Paarl.

Permit Required:

No, no permit is required. However, a entry fee may be charged. It wasn’t on the day I hiked (a Sunday) so I am unsure of whether you only pay during certain times/days.

It would be best to check this with the local Paarl tourism authorities.

Approximate Hiking Time:

2-2.5 hours

Hike Difficulty:

Easy

Location:

Paarl, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

4) Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens: Various Hikes (Betty’s Bay, Cape Overberg Region)

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The Harold Porter National Botanical Gardens are my favourite botanical gardens in the Cape… Yes, even more so than the world-famous Kirstenbosch!

Why? Because the wealth and diversity of the natural scenery, flora and fauna is unparalled. Here, ocean views, river walks, lush garden spaces, indigenous flowers, plants and wildlife can all be marvelled at and enjoyed by visitors.

Disa Kloof Trail

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This family-friendly garden is also home to several lovely hiking trails. One that I thoroughly enjoyed was the Disa Kloof Trail, so named after the pretty red disa flower.

The Disa Kloof Trail is suitable for all, as it is even wheel-chair and pram-friendly. It offers a wonderful taste of the Overberg’s special nature and fierce beauty.

This pretty, shaded river walk, which hugs the Disa River’s banks, is perfect on even the hottest or windiest day in the Cape.

harold-porter-disa-kloof-trail-waterfall

It may be short (just some 950 metres from the entrance to the stunning waterfall) but it features some memorable highlights. These include the Olive May Porter Bridge, a gorgeous waterfall, crystal streams, a wooded area and even a beautiful, peaceful dam.

In terms of hiking time, you can probably walk there and back in under an hour but there’s no need to rush, especially if you are hiking it with family.

No permit is required for Disa Kloof – but you do pay a per person entry fee to get into the gardens.

Zigzag and Fynbos Trails

zigzag-fynbos-trails-harold-porter

Two other trails we enjoyed were the Zigzag and Fynbos Trails. After completing Disa Kloof, our real hiking began.

These trails, one long, one short, traverse the southern slopes of Bobbejaanskop and The Plateau, ensuring hikers enjoy breathtaking views out across the garden towards Betty’s Bay and the ocean.

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But for me, the Zigzag Trail, which requires some careful footing in places as you make your ascent, is the real gem with its stunning views and incredible vegetation.

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At the top of the mountain, you can even find benches that offer the most beautiful vistas.

These benches are perfect for soaking up the surrounding beauty or catching your breath.

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The hiking trails can be steep in places and do require moderate fitness but there is nothing too trying about them.

You just have to keep pushing yourself up the next hill because the view at the end of it is worth it hundredfold.

harold-porter-hikes

For more avid hikers, there is also Leopard’s Kloof Trail – but you will need a permit for that hike.

Permit Required:

No, a hiking permit is only required for the Leopard’s Kloof Trail.ย For the Zigzag, Fynbos and Disa Kloof hikes, you only need to pay the garden’s entry fee.ย 

Hiking permits for Leopard’s Kloof can be obtained from the main office near the entrance. (Additionally, you also need to pay the normal garden entry fee.)

Approximate Hiking Time:

Probably about an hour for Disa Kloof (if even that) – and another hour or two for Zigzag and Fynbos trails.

Hike Difficulty:

Moderate for most of the Harold Porter hikes – but Disa Kloof Trail is easy.

Location:

Betty’s Bay, Cape Overberg Region, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

5) Palmiet River Trail (Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Cape Overberg Region)

kogelberg-nature-reserve-hikes-best-western-cape-day-hikes

Another gorgeous, fairly easy Overberg hike for nature lovers to enjoy is the Palmiet River Trail.

Found within the beautiful, peaceful Kogelberg Nature Reserve, the Palmiet River Trail has it all: pristine Cape nature, pretty flora, wildlife and birdlife, crystal streams and even its own secret beach!

beach-kogelberg-nature-reserve

This leisurely, gentle hike, which is suitable for families to enjoy, takes hikers along the pretty Palmiet River.

Some 10 km in length, the hike takes a bit of time to complete – but it’s actually worth going a bit slower to really take in the beauty around you.

kogelberg-nature-reserve-palmiet-river-hike

Every twist and turn in the trail seems to promise its own hidden gem: with proteas, river crossings, wildlife and some panoramic vistas all making their appearance.

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There are deliciously cool swimming spots along the way and even a unexpected, secluded beach to really whet your nature enthusiasm and cool you down after some time in the sun.

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As the trail is quite exposed to the sun baring down upon you, even in autumn, sunscreen (and maybe a hat) is a must!

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This is one of the most naturally stunning hiking trails I have enjoyed to date. There isn’t a section that isn’t beautiful and awash with Overberg charm

If you are looking for a special, family-friendly hike in the Overberg, this is a good choice.

kogelberg-nature-reserve-protea

The fact that Kogelberg Nature Reserve offers gorgeous, eco-friendly accommodation makes it even more appealing for an extended day trip,ย weekend getaway or holiday in the countryside.

In addition to Palmiet River Trail, Kogelberg has a number of other excellent day hikes to choose from. With the shortest some six kilometres and the longest 24 kilometres.

kogelberg-nature-reserve-hikes

Where It Starts:

A short walk up from the Kogelberg Nature Reserve main office.

Permit Required:

Yes, a permit is required. These can be purchased from the Kogelberg Nature Reserve main office. This is a cash-only reserve so keep that in mind when planning a visit.ย 

Approximate Hiking Time:

3-4 hours. It is recommended that hikers start this trail no later than 14:00 pm.

Hike Difficulty:

Easy

Location:

Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Cape Overberg Region, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

6) Welvanpas Hike (Wellington)

welvanpas-hiking-trail-best-western-cape-day-hikes

Wellington, by default, is a beautiful town to visit and offers some popular hiking trails around the valley but if you do a bit of digging, you can find some hidden gems like Welvanpas.

welvanpas-farm-nature

Located on the Welvanpas working farm – which produces citrus- and other-fruits, vegetables and proteas, while also having its own vine nursery – this picturesque hiking trail is a real treat.

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Welvanpas Hiking Trail is one of the lesser known hiking trails in the Western Cape – but after trying it, it’s actually one of my favourite for a few reasons.

Where Mountain and Farm Life Meet

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Apparently suitable for both children and adults to undertake (there are separate permit fees for both), this 7.5 kilometre-long trail offers hikers a taste of Wellington’s best farm-meets-mountain life.

pine-forest-welvanpas-hike

You can expect to see plenty of pretty spots along this scenic trail.

Especially as it which through forest walks, shaded pine forests and beside flowing streams before rewarding you with some pretty incredible Groenberg mountain- and vineyard-views.

wellington-hike-welvanpas

There are signs along the trail, like ‘Lower Forest Walk’ or ‘Fern Forest’ to keep you on the right track – but it’s a pretty easy route to follow.

welvanpas-hiking-sign

pine-tree-walk-welvanpas-hike

Parts of the trail were slightly overgrown (plunging into dense shrubbery in the height of summer takes some guts – especially when the thought of serpents is firmly in your mind…) – but otherwise the trail is pretty well-maintained and marked.

Just walk carefully and keep an eye out for snakes when it’s hot out.

overgrown-vines-welvanpas

welvanpas-hike-marker

However, this trail can be a hot one to hike, especially in summertime – so again, sunscreen (and a hat) are advised!

welvanpas-hike-wellington

One of the main highlights of this pretty, at times gentle, at times slightly steeper trail, is the beautiful Kromme river and waterfall that you find some two kilometres or so into the trail.

wellington-hike-trail

kromme-river-wellington

Here, a short, 200-metre-long detour of the main path rewards you with the stunning, refreshing sights and sounds of the flowing falls.

welvanpas-hike-waterfall

If you are looking for a fairly easy, beautiful hike in the heart of Wellington, Welvanpas is a perfect hike to enjoy.

Before or after your hike, you can buy some refreshments, snacks or other farm goodies from Die Ou Meul, a quaint, rather rustic coffee shop at the start of your trail. You can also purchase your MTB or hiking permits here.

ou-meul-coffee-shop-wellington

Where It Starts:

Ou Meul coffee shop, Welvanpas Family Farm, Bovlei Road.

Permit Required:

Yes, a permit is required. These can be purchased from Die Ou Meul coffee shop at Welvanpas. (You can also purchase MTB permits from here.)

Approximate Hiking Time:

2.5 – 3 hours.

Hike Difficulty:

Easy to moderate. (It gets a bit steep in places so it can be tiring – but nothing too hectic overall.)

Location:

Welvanpas Family Farm, Wellington, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

7) Tygerberg Nature Reserve: Various Hiking Trail Options (Welgemoed, Northern Suburbs)

tygerberg-nature-reserve-best-western-cape-day-hikes

Tygerberg Nature Reserve is one of my favourite places in the Northern Suburbs.

This tranquil nature haven is ideal for families, couples and friends to enjoy together – especially as it even has wheel-chair-friendly sections.

tygerberg-nature-reserve-hikes

tygerberg-nature-reserve-hiking-tamlyn-amber-wanderlust

The reserve offers stunning vistas (even overlooking Table Mountain in the distance), a wealth of wildlife and birdlife, a vibrant burst of plants and flowers and some gorgeous, shaded picnic spots and benches for all to enjoy.

It makes for the perfect outing or day trip in the Mother City, while still allowing you to remain in green suburbia.

spring-flowers-tygerberg-cape-town

picnic-spots-tygerberg-nature-reserve

It also has some excellent hikes and nature walks, which are generally fine for the whole family to enjoy.

Since moving to the Northern Suburbs in late 2017, I have done all but two of Tygerberg Nature Reserve’s hikes and loved every one of them for different reasons.

tygerberg-nature-reserve-nature-walks

The hikes, each beautifully named, vary in length but they are all relatively doable with a moderate to good fitness level. (To check out the hiking trails or download a map, click here.)

hiking-tygerberg-nature-reserve

Here is a list of the available Tygerberg hikes:

  • Caracal (800 metres)
  • Duiker (1 600 metres)
  • Golden Mole (3 600 metres)
  • Grey Rhebok (1 360 metres)
  • Honey Badger (450 metres)
  • Induli (990 metres)
  • Peregrine (610 metres)
  • Striped Weasels (720 metres)
  • Tortoise (1 280 metres)
  • Ukhetshe (3 160 metres)
  • Watsonia (2 660 metres)
  • Wheelchair (480 metres)
  • and finally, Wild Olive (210 metres)

tygerberg-bee

cape-leopard-tortoise-tygerberg

chameleon-tygerberg-nature-reserve-wildlife

guinea-fowl-tygerberg-nature-reserve-durbanville

Some of the highlights within Tygerberg include: wild creatures, such as chameleons, tortoises, snakes (yikes!) and blue-headed guinea fowl; pretty picnic spots facing Table Mountain; a wide variety of flowers (especially during springtime); an old cannon from the 1700s and the Kristo Pienaar Environmental Education Centre.

tygerberg-nature-reserve-cannon

tygerberg-educational-centre-welgemoed

Tygerberg Nature Reserve is ideal for those gently building up or maintaining their fitness levels – or who wish to escape the stresses of daily life, while also enjoying some quality time in the fresh air with those they love. ๐Ÿ™‚

tygerberg-nature-reserve-cape-town

Permit Required:

No, you do not require a permit for any of the Tygerberg hikes. However, there is a per person entry fee to get into the nature reserve. This is payable at the main gate.

Approximate Hiking Time:

Hiking time varies, as the hikes are different lengths in duration. You can do some of the shorter hikes in about an hour or less though.

Hike Difficulty:

Easy to moderate (depending on which trail you undertake and/or your fitness level).

Location:

Western Cape, South Africa.

 

8) Platteklip Gorge Hike (Cape Town)

platteklip-gorge-hike-best-western-cape-day-hikes

Platteklip Gorge hike used to be one of my favourites. It is, after all, the most affordable way to get up Table Mountain.

Yet sadly, this route has claimed a few lives in recent time. Now, it feels like it is one of the riskier local hikes to undertake.

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That is not to say, however, that you cannot safely enjoy this amazing hike because you can!

You just have to be careful and go slowly, especially up the steps… especially in the heat.

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My Personal Experiences of Platteklip Gorge

I have hiked up Platteklip Gorge twice. On the first occasion, I did the return hike, while the second time I hiked up via Platteklip Gorge and then caught the cable car down.

Both experiences were fun – so however you choose to do it, this hike is one that is rewarding and scenic.

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Best of all, this hike grants you access to one of the most special things in our city: the wondrous Table Mountain.

You do, however, need a pretty good fitness level to hike up Platteklip Gorge because it’s steep and has a lot of rough steps carved into the mountainside.

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Slow, Safe and Steady Wins the Trail

There are some considerable drops and pretty vast heights along the way but, even with my fear of heights, I felt safe and at peace for most of the hike.

Again, patience is your friend here – do not rush or you may trip and fall… and you do not want to fall here.

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As you climb, the city stretches out below you, even as Table Mountain and its beautiful valleys and cliff faces rise up before you. So, visually, this hike is a stunner.

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Along the way, you will also catch a glimpse of the cable car (which goes above the main route), some wildlife and birdlife and yes, you guessed it, plenty of gorgeous Cape flora too.

Take Precautions

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During the day, the route gets a lot of sun so it can be even more tiring to hike but by the afternoon, there is generally enough shade to enjoy good resting in.

Still, sunscreen and ample water are two essentials for this hike!

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The hike is about three kilometres up from the lower cable car station – but it is very steep in places so don’t let the distance fool you. Also, while the hike is considered safe for older children – I do not agree with this view.

Personally, I wouldn’t consider hiking it even with an older child – a teenager, maybe but definitely not a child. It’s a demanding and quite dangerous hike in places so it’s pretty ill-advised.

Enjoying Table Mountain Together Safely

If you wish to hike it but want to meet your family or kids on the mountain, why not let them ride up in the cable car and spend some time safely exploring Table Mountain while you hike up?

Then, you can all enjoy a fun ride back down in the cable car to end off your adventure. ๐Ÿ™‚

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Overall, Platteklip Gorge is one of the more demanding hikes in and around the Mother City (and I hiked it at my fittest).

And though it has had its tragedies, if you are careful and patient, there is no reason why you cannot safely enjoy this special Cape Town hike.

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Savour the Views at the Top of the Table

When you reach the top of the mountain and complete your hike, spend some time browsing the curio shops, grab a bite to eat at the cafรฉ or simply soak up the views from up on high.

It’s a sight worth savouring, that much is for sure.

table-mountain-views

Where It Starts:

Lower Cable Car station, Tafelberg Road, Cape Town.

Permit Required:

No, you do not require a permit and it is free to hike. You will only have to pay if you wish to catch the cable car up or down.

Approximate Hiking Time:

2-3.5 hours (one-way).

Hike Difficulty:

Moderate to tough (A good level of fitness is essential).

Location:

Table Mountain, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

9) Elephant’s Eye Cave Hike (Silvermine Nature Reserve)

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Another scenic and fairly easy hike near the Mother City is the hike to Elephant’s Eye Cave. Situated within the beautiful, popular Silvermine Nature Reserve, Elephant’s Eye is an interesting natural attraction to explore.

After paying and entering, you can park and set off on your hike from the Silvermine car park.

The hiking trail primarily runs on a gravel road, so the going is decent. Overall, this is a pretty gentle, easygoing hike so it isย safe to enjoy as a family too.

elephants-eye-cave-hike
Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Along the way, the hike to the cave also rewards you with some stunning scenery of the nature reserve, the Silvermine dam and of course, the gorgeous local flora, such as proteas and other fascinating plants.

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What’s more, the higher you climb, the better the views of Cape Town, and indeed False Bay, become.

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After a short while, you reach the pine forest, before crossing the Prinzkasteel stream. Not long after that, you reach the adorable stone cottage (fire lookout).

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

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From here, you are within sight of the cave. More to the point, the scenery from the side of the cottage is breathtaking, as you look down across the verdant valleys below.

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Finally, after following the dirt path through the bushes, you will reach Elephant’s Eye Cave. You can walk inside and marvel at the mysterious plants and shrubbery growing within but for me, the cave is best enjoyed from the outside because you can see everything better.

If you like, you can pack in a picnic to enjoy near the cave or by the dam, which is also a popular swimming place during summertime.

Where It Starts:

Silvermine parking lot, Silvermine Nature Reserve, Ou Kaapse Weg, Cape Town.

Permit Required:

No, a permit is not required but there is a per person entry fee for the nature reserve. This is payable at the main gate.

Approximate Hiking Time:

2.5-3 hours (depending on your fitness level and how fast you wish to hike).

Hike Difficulty:

Easy (Although there are a few steep parts).

Location:

Silvermine Nature Reserve, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

10) Lion’s Head Hike (Cape Town)

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Lion’s Head is arguably the most popular (read: overdone) hike in Cape Town. Still, for those visiting or new to the Mother City, it’s a great hike to enjoy.

Personally though, it ranks pretty low on my list because it’s become more of a trend than a hike people enjoy because they want to get lost in nature. (A quick search on Instagram will reveal what I mean…)

A Evening to Remember

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

But Lion’s Head holds a special memory for me. Mainly because the first time I hiked it (I have been up twice since over the years) was with my brother and his partner, Lies, on their last night in Cape Town way back in 2014.

It was a really fitting way to end our month-long travels across the province together and honestly, I think we were rewarded with one of the most stunning sunsets ever. ๐Ÿ™‚

And as we walked back down the mountainside, in the fast-fading twilight, a full moon and even a falling star blessed us with their presence. So needless to say, it was a pretty memorable evening!

Chains and Ladders

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

For those unfamiliar with Lion’s Head, the trail is comprised of a dirt path that snakes up and around the mountain. (There are essentially two routes up the mountain but I generally combine them when I hike it.)

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

At one point, you reach metal chains and ladders, there to assist you as you scramble over rocks. This bit is the trickiest – but overall, the hike is pretty moderate and not too taxing, even for the most unfit among us.

The Lion’s Head hike offers some gorgeous views of Table Mountain, the city bowl and of course, the seemingly serene Atlantic Ocean, which stretches out impressively before you.

A Child-friendly Hike? Not to Me.

While Lion’s Head is considered to be a fairly child-friendly hike – again, I would probably only hike this trail with a much older tween or even a teenager.

Call me cautious – but it can still be challenging in places. Especially in the steeper parts or when tackling the chains and ladders.

Good Views Only

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Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

The hike is, however, quite exposed so sometimes you get fierce sun baring down upon you. Other times, the top of the mountain gets lost in cloud and it’s like hiking in the middle of dense fog.

lions-head-at-sunset
Photo credit: Non Stop Destination

Whatever the weather, Lion’s Head never disappoints with its panoramic views and fun hiking experience overall.

Where It Starts:

From the Lion’s Head parking lot, Lion’s Head/Signal Hill turn-off, just off Kloof Nek Road, Cape Town.

Permit Required:

No, no permit is required and it is free to hike.

Approximate Hiking Time:

2 to 4 hours (depending on your overall fitness and hiking pace).

Hike Difficulty:

Easy to moderate (Depending on your fitness level).

Location:

Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.

 

In Closing

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These are just ten of the incredible Western Cape day hikes I have enjoyed in recent years. I hope that they bring you as much natural beauty, tired legs and happy contentment as they have me. ๐Ÿ™‚

Remember, please be safe and responsible at all times when hiking anywhere – no matter the route and difficulty level.

Which hike(s) do you recommend I try next? Do you have a Western Cape hike you would like to see added to this list?

Comment below and let me know; I am always looking for new hikes to write about and enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

 

COVID-19 DISCLAIMER:

Please remember that COVID-19 rules and regulations may affect opening times and availability of tourism offices, nature reserves, permit sales and hike times across South Africa. As such, I can assume no responsibility for any hike closures.

For the latest provincial and national COVID-19 restrictions and levels, please visit an official government portal or contact them directly.

Please also remember that, even when hiking in nature, you are advised to:

  • Wear a mask in public (fineable by law).
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Sanitise frequently.ย 
  • Stay home if you feel unwell.

Author: Tamlyn Ryan

Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.

Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.

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