Smack in the middle of Cape Town central, Lion’s Head provides 360 degree views of the city bowl, Robben Island, the Atlantic seaboard with the likes of Clifton and Camp’s Bay, the Twelve Apostles, and Table Mountain with its little aerial cableway going up and down.
Our course took place one hot, bright afternoon in late January. You park at the base of Lion’s Head and the trail starts easily enough from there. It is a dirt path for the first half, that slowly becomes narrower and narrower until you scramble up rocks for the last part of the hike. *To me, this hike is moderate. Every Cape Town website will tell you it’s fun for the whole family, and Capetonians will tell you it’s super easy–that they’d do it barefoot. But, if you’re old or you’re four, I think it’d be a challenge. If you’re me, it’s a challenge. Sure, some people were running Lion’s Head. But, yeah, we’re not those people.
Halfway through the hike is an option to take either the shortcut or the suggested path. We only saw people descending the shortcut–a series of chains and ladders–so we took the longer way, which winds around the mountain. It adds about 20 minutes to the hike. We did take the short cut on our way down, and it was, as we’d predicted, fun and safe.
About half way down the hike, another couple stopped to ask us about trail ahead. Was it difficult? they asked. Dangerous? We told them it wasn’t dangerous, but that it can get a bit rough climbing up and over large rocks at the top—that when you’ve got about 20 minutes to go, the path is replaced by the choice of which boulder is best to hoist yourself over. And it gets steep. Somehow that translated to “dangerous,” and they turned around. Oops.
It view is worth the hike. Lots of great places to plop down and look out across Cape Town. If it’s a hot day, like ours was, Clifton’s and Camp’s Bay’s beaches look hugely enticing—enough to make us change our plans and head straight to one afterwards. It doesn’t exactly pan out though—by the time you hike back down Lion’s Head and drive to the beach in your air-conditioned car, you’re no longer super hot and sweaty enough to want in the cold water.
Lion’s Head is also a favorite for sunset or full moon hikes, where you arm yourself with a headlamp and a bottle of wine for the top. It’s on our to-do list.