Cape Town, the undisputed jewel in South Africa’s crown, is also its most popular tourist attraction. Set in a stunning location at the meeting point of two oceans, Cape Town’s unique geography makes it an ideal starting point for a holiday hiking in South Africa.
Walking trails network all along the dramatic peninsula of rugged cliffs and sandy coves, where lush green forests roll right down to meet the turquoise waters of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. Famous for its stunning harbour and the iconic backdrop of Table Mountain, Cape Town easily deserves its accolades as one of the world’s favourite holiday destinations.
When hiking South Africa, Cape Town’s spectacular landscape and breathtaking scenery are just begging to be enjoyed and many of the major attractions are nature based. Hikes up Table Mountain and Signal Hill are a must, or you can take a gentle walk through the Silvermine Nature Reserve or the wonderful Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for a more leisurely outing. From every angle,
Cape Town’s legendary beauty is apparent, and her fascinating history invites you to explore.
Over three centuries, Robben Island served as a defence station; a leper colony; and most recently as a penitentiary. Many high-profile political prisoners were interred here, the most famous being Nelson Mandela – South Africa’s famous anti-apartheid leader.
Today is a sombre reminder of the sacrifices made in achieving freedom for South Africa’s people. The tours of the island give you a real sense of how life was for these prisoners. Incredibly, many of the guides are former inmates, and they will give you a unique insight into a troubled time. Outside the prison, you can see the remains of the old limestone quarries in which the inmates were forced to work.
After your tour of the old jail, to lighten your mood, the island is a wonderful place for hiking. South Africa’s diverse flora and fauna is in abundance here and you will see many species of birds, deer and also the famous Springbok.
The ragged cliffs of the Table Mountain chain stretch from Signal Hill in the North over to Cape Point in the south encompassing the city in between. Table Mountain itself is the iconic symbol of Cape Town and its majestic form defines the landscape. For the ultimate views over the harbour and city take the cable-car up the mountain. It only takes ten minutes and on the way up you can enjoy a 360 degree vista to the horizon.
If you want to experience the most picturesque hiking in South Africa, take a deep breath and set off on foot up Table Mountain. There are a myriad of trails of varying degrees – from comfortable to challenging – to get you there. The area surrounding the mountain is a designated National Park. On the way you can see a rich vegetation of many plant species endemic to South Africa, such as unusual varieties of Protea, and the unique Cape Fynbos.
It will take between 1-3 hours to reach the summit of Table Mountain, depending on your route and fitness, but one thing is for sure – the view from the top with an incredible panorama flanked either side by the rocky monuments of Lions Head and Devils Peak, is an awesome reward
One of the most popular viewing spots in Cape Town is Signal Hill. It is a great place to go for an easy hike and there are many family-friendly picnic areas to stop along the way. In the evening the area is popular with couples and has an incredibly romantic feel at sunset, with wonderful views over to Table Mountain and out to Cape Point and beyond. It is almost traditional when one is in Cape Town to partake of sundowners on Signal Hill with your loved one.
Signal Hill forms the ‘body’ of the famous Lions Head, and it is an easy walk up to the ‘head’ from here. Take a picnic and enjoy the spectacular views from the summit. If you’re here in the morning, every day at noon, a cannon shot is fired off from the “Noon Gun”, which upholds an old Captonian tradition. In a quirky twist, although the cannon is filled by an Officer of the Lions Battery, it is in fact ignited remotely by an electronic signal sent by the Cape Town Observatory.