One of the most popular hikes in Cape Town is the famous Lion’s Head. And a trip to Cape Town is simply not complete without a hike to the top of Lion’s Head. With an elevation of 669 meters, you will be rewarded with a stunning view overlooking Cape Town. With clear skies, you are able to get views of the 12 Apostles, Camps Bay, the Clifton beaches, as well as Sea Point. It is easy to understand why this hike has become so popular among both tourists and locals. To prepare for your hike we have gathered everything you need to know right here. So read along for the ultimate guide to hiking Lion’s Head in Cape Town.
Hiking Lion’s Head in Cape Town
The starting point of the Lion’s Head hike in Cape Town is at the car park on Signal Hill Road. From here it is very easy to spot the trail – as it is a wide gravel trail right across from the road. You must then follow the trail around the mountain until you reach the top. From the top, you must walk down the same way as you came. The trail is for the most part clearly marked, so you do not have to worry about getting lost. During your hike, you will encounter an intersection where you have two options. You can either go left or right. These two routes end at the Lion’s Head Summit (the top of the mountain). However, they are of two different difficulties.
The left route: The easier route to Lion’s Head
The left route at the intersection is known as the easier route to the summit. This part of the trail spirals around the mountain. This is the safest and easiest way to reach the top of Lion’s Head. However, it is worth mentioning that you are still going to meet two ladders on this part of the trail. They are new to the trail, so not many travel blogs mention them. We were therefore surprised to see them. But even with the ladders and some climbing on the rocks, it was still an okay route to take. If you are a first-time hiker like we were at the time we would highly recommend you take this route. Another bonus of taking the left route is the beautiful panoramic views you will be rewarded with during the hike.
The right route: The challenging route
If you end up taking the right route at the intersection you must be prepared for a more challenging hike. This route is steeper which is why you will encounter several ladders and chains throughout the hike. Therefore, this is the route recommended for more avid hikers and adventure seekers.
Is it difficult to hike Lion’s Head?
We have read a lot about hiking Lion’s Head before we actually went. As beginners when it comes to hiking, we wanted to do our research. Most people said it was an easy hike, which is why we thought it would be. So, is it difficult to hike Lion’s Head? No, it is not difficult to hike Lion’s Head – for the most part. However, it is not just a leisure walk with a beautiful view. The hike can be a bit steep at times which is why you are required to make use of handles and ladders – even if you take the easy route (the left route). So, whether you find it a comfortable hike depends a lot on you and your fitness level.
During our months in Cape Town, we went on the Lion’s Head hike several times. The first time was the most difficult one. Probably because we weren’t aware of the ladders and the small amount of rock climbing on the easy route. But if you are prepared for this, take your time, and remember to bring enough water, it is not difficult to hike Lion’s Head. And even if it is, the view from the top is all worth it.
Time spent hiking Lion’s Head
How much time you spent hiking Lion’s Head depends a lot on your fitness level and which route you take. We met a lot of people who made the climb very fast. However, we would recommend you set aside at least 3 hours for your Lion’s Head hike. This will allow you to take it easy and take as many breaks as needed. It is especially important to take some time admiring the view during your hike and once you reach the top. It is not everyday you are able to have a picnic on top of Lion’s Head.
Best time to hike Lion’s Head in Cape Town
The Lion’s Head trail is a popular hike in Cape Town which is why the trail can be crowded sometimes. Therefore, we highly recommend you plan your time accordingly. The best time to hike Lion’s Head in Cape Town is in the early morning hours before it gets too hot. Both sunrise and sunset are popular times as well, as the views from the top are incredible in the light. However, sunset is the absolute most popular time to hike Lion’s Head so it can be very crowded. Going for sunrise would therefore be better if you are hoping to skip the crowds.
What to bring for your Lion’s Head hike
When you are going on a hike there are a few things that you must bring for a good experience. Therefore, we have gathered this small list of things you should bring for your Lion’s Head hike.
- A lot of water – You must stay hydrated during your Lion’s Head hike. Most of the hike is without shadow so water is necessary.
- A good pair of shoes – Climbing to the Lion’s Head Summit requires a good pair of shoes. A good grip is especially essential for a great hiking experience.
- Headlamp – If you are planning on going for a sunrise or sunset hike of Lion’s Head you must bring a lamp. There is no light, and it would be dangerous to be walking in the dark.
- Sunscreen – There is almost no shade along the trail. Sunscreen is a must to avoid sunburn.
- Snacks – A hike to the top of Lion’s Head is never complete without snacks. You need something to celebrate when you reach the top and the summit is a perfect place for a small picnic.