Crystal Pools

Hiking in Cape Town and surrounds

Our beautiful mountains provide some excellent hiking trails to truly experience the Capes Fynbos vegetation, sweeping views over the peninsula, dips in rock pools and beaches.

Make sure to keep safe, hike in groups and do not carry valuables.

Thank you to Cape Town Magazine for this excellent synopsis of the best hikes around..

Let’s get walking!

Hiking in the Table Mountain National Park

Lion’s Head
 This short summit offers panoramic views of Cape Town and unbeatable sunsets. It’s a popular route to do at night when it’s full moon, and if you’re relatively fit you’ll find yourself at the top quite quickly. There’s a little bit of climbing involved, but there are handholds and chains to help you on your way up and down. You can also take the roundabout way which skips the climbing part if you are walking with small children or your dogs.
Number of routes: Two routes.
Difficulty: Moderate.

Devil’s Peak
 This path zig-zags up from Tafelberg Road (where the Cable Car Station is) and then takes a steep route up to the peak. There are fantastic views of Table Mountain and the city below once you reach the top.
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Kasteel Poort 
This climb up Kasteel Poort is not for the unfit; although, the Cable Car does offer an alternative route for those unwilling to walk up. From the top of Kasteel Poort you’ll be able to see all the way across the Twelve Apostles, and once you reach the front of the mountain, the city views are incredible.
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Easy-difficult.

Deer Park
 If you’re in the city and craving a nature fix then this small reserve on the lowest slopes of Table Mountain is your solution. You can walk your dogs in this forested area, or just go for a stroll. Once you’ve walked up a bit you’ll have a clear view of the mountain right ahead, and here you can choose to link up to a longer hike if you’re up for it.
Number of routes: Four routes.
Difficulty: Easy-moderate.

Woodstock Cave
 You may have spotted this cave from De Waal drive, it’s a thin crack in the mountain that invites exploration. You can reach it from either Rhodes Memorial or from Tafelberg Road, both routes offer expansive views of the city below.
Number of routes: Two routes.
Difficulty: Moderate.

Bridle Path and Nursery Ravine 
This hike takes you all the way to the top of the other side of Table Mountain; it’s a lot quieter than the front side and has the added beauty of large, still reservoirs. There are various routes to the top, but they are all fairly strenuous, so if you’re not used to hiking then rather start with something a bit shorter.
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Elephant’s Eye
 The eye of the elephant in question is a large cave in the Silvermine Nature Reserve that, with the help of a squint, resembles the head of these large creatures. Though all the way across the city from Table Mountain itself, the reserve is still part of park, and has great picnic spots next to the reservoir where you can braai in the colder months.
Number of routes: Two routes.
Difficulty: Easy – moderate.

Silvermine East
 This is also in the Silvermine Nature Reserve, but on the other side overlooking Muizenberg. It offers fantastic views, interesting rock formations and plenty of untouched fynbos.
Number or routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Beach walks in Cape Town and surrounds

Olifantsbos shipwreck trail
 This isn’t your average stroll along the beach; set in the Cape Point Nature Reserve, this route may have you hiking next to a herd of bontebok or a troop of baboons foraging in the rock pools. If that’s not enough excitement for a seaside stroll, there are the shipwrecks dotted along the wild beaches to explore.
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Easy – moderate.

Sandy Bay
 This beach walk s offers a few unusual sights in addition to the vistas of rocky outcrops and expansive shoreline; it’s the only designated nude beach in the area! Apart from the manmade beauty, Sandy Bay is a gorgeous stretch of beach with clear white sand, rock formations and interesting seaside plants.
Number of routes: Two routes.
Difficulty: Easy – moderate.

Muizenberg Mile
 This seaside walkway winds its way alongside the beaches and rock pools in Muizenberg. You’ll want to time your walk with the tide, as the breaking waves can get a bit too close for comfort at high tide.
Number of routes: One route.
Difficulty: Easy. 

Forest walks in Cape Town and surrounds

Newlands forest contour path
 Trees stretching up high above the shady paths, streams to splash in and plenty of paths leading through the forest and up onto the mountain slopes above it can all be found in Newlands Forest. The routes we’ve chosen take you up onto these slopes, but if you just want a quick walk this is an ideal spot to walk your dogs (and children).
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Easy – moderate.

Spes Bona Forest
 You’ll need to hike up through lower slopes of the fynbos covered mountain before you reach this forest, but it’s worth the trek. A raised wooden walkway winds its way in amongst the old gnarled trees which are kept alive by the constant drips of water running down the mossy cliff on the right.
Number or routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Tokai Arboretum
 Popular with cyclists, this forest is also great for a quick stroll or a steady climb up to the mountain slopes above it. The majority of the trees aren’t indigenous, but they do shade the paths just the same.
Number or routes: Two routes.
Difficulty: Easy – moderate.

Deer Park 
Also included in our Table Mountain National Parks routes, Deer Park is a favourite for the forest lovers. The smell of pine needles is a refreshing break from the traffic fumes that permeate the air in the city centre just a few minutes away. This forest isn’t huge, but it’s big enough to lose yourself in for a little bit.
Number of routes: Four routes.
Difficulty: Easy-moderate.

De Hel
 This dense greenbelt in Constantia is surprisingly large; the path leads down into the valley leaving you feeling as though you’ve been swallowed up by the jungle. It’s a dog-friendly, kid-friendly haven of nature in the suburbs. Constantia has a number of green belts to walk on throughout the suburb.
Number of routes: Nine routes.
Difficulty: Easy.

Swimming hikes in Cape Town and surrounds

Krom River 
Save this one for summer; the path leads up a river to two spectacular rock pools which can be icy even when it’s hot. The walk itself isn’t too long, so you can spend plenty of time swimming in the mountain pools.
Number of routes: One route.
Difficulty: Moderate.

Suicide Gorge 
Not one for the fainthearted, this is an extreme hike with very high jumps down the river into the pools below. We recommend doing this with a guide as it can be dangerous.
Number of routes: One route.
Difficulty: Difficult.

Bontebok National Park
 Take a dip in the designated swimming spots along the Breede River, the body of water that runs through this park. Choose one of the paths alongside the river, or save your swim for after the hike.
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Easy – moderate.

Elephant’s Eye
 Also listed in our Table Mountain National Park routes, Elephant’s Eye loops around the Silvermine Reservoir, a refreshing rooibos-coloured body of water only a two minute walk from the parking lot. So pack your costume and cool off after your hike.
Number of routes: Two routes.
Difficulty: Easy – moderate.

Sandy Bay
 Take a dip in the sea after your hike, and since it’s a nude beach you don’t even need to remember your costume.
Number of routes: Two routes.
Difficulty: Easy – moderate.

Muizenberg Mile 
Muizenberg Beach has legendary warm water and waves to swim in, otherwise there’s a tidal pool at St James at the end of the walk if you prefer more sedate.
Number of routes: One route.
Difficulty: Easy. 

Walks through indigenous fynbos in Cape Town and surrounds

Chapman’s Peak
 Ericas, proteas and indigenous trees can all be found in the thick fynbos covering this peak. You’ll also have the added bonus of amazing views of Hout Bay, Fish Hoek and Gordon’s Bay.
Number of routes: Two routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Krom River
 Aside from its allure as a great route for swimming, on a Krom River hike you’ll find indigenous mountain fynbos which turns to riverine forest in the wetter parts of the kloof, plus you might spot a disa or two higher up.
Number of routes: One route.
Difficulty: Moderate.

Spes Bona Forest 
Aside from the indigenous trees in the forest, keep an eye out for erica urna-viridis, which can only be found in this particular area, and the bright haemanthus sanguineus, also known as april fools or velskoenblaar.
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Nursery Ravine
 This hike takes you past a number of different types of flora: you’ll spot sun dews on the wet rocks alongside Bridle Path, grasses and bushes on the plateau and the occasional red disa near the reservoirs.
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Kasteel Poort
 You may not see all 8200 plant species that grow in the Table Mountain National Park, but you’ll see quite a few of them along this route, from the yellow pincushion proteas to vibrant red ericas.
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Easy-difficult.

Devil’s Peak
 Along with Signal Hill across the way, the slopes of Devil’s Peak are the only place on earth where you can still find the critically endangered Peninsula Shale Renosterveld. Endemic to the Cape Peninsula, this vegetation has been threatened by urban expansion.
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Elephant’s Eye 
As part of the Table Mountain National Park, the Elephant’s Eye trail  in Silvermine Nature Reserve claims plenty of fynbos from the Cape Floral Kingdom, a biodiversity sector with nearly 900 species of vegetation, including various types of proteas, ericas, and restios.
Number or routes: Two routes.
Difficulty: Easy – moderate.

Silvermine East
 Also part of the Silvermine Nature Reserve, the slopes of the East side are covered in ericas in various shades of pink, depending on the season; leucodendrons and asteraceae provide a splash of yellow in spring.
Number of routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Fernkloof Nature Reserve 
It’s said that 1474 species have been uncovered in Fernkloof, you’ll see ericas, watsonias and plenty more in a dazzling display of fynbos finery. The herbarium in the reserve has been given international status and houses 1600 montane and coastal species — that’s more than in the entire United Kingdom.
Number of routes: Four routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens
 Here you’ll find all sorts of indigenous fynbos as well as afromontane forest. There are sections devoted to fragrant plants, edible plants and other interesting sub-categories. It’s also a great place to learn a bit more about indigenous species, as there is plenty of information available.
Number or routes: Seven routes.
Difficulty: Easy – difficult.

Hikes outside of Cape Town

La Motte
 This hike on a wine estate is in Franschhoek, an hour’s drive from Cape Town. This walk will lead you past the picturesque vineyards of the estate and up through the mountainous property. Rewards yourself with a wine-tasting or a meal at Pierneef à La Motte Restaurant.
Number or routes: One route.
Difficulty: Moderate.

Fernkloof Nature Reserve
 About an hour and a half from Cape Town, this reserve offers some beautiful walks through its well-preserved fynbos. It’s in Hermanus so you’ll find plenty of other reasons for visiting the area, visit between June and December for whale season and listen out for the whale crier’s call..
Number or routes: Four routes.
Difficulty: Moderate – difficult.

Paarl Rock
 The Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve is about an hour from Cape Town. Climb to the top of Bretgna Rock, a granite outcrop with fantastic views (you can see as far as Table Mountain on a clear day).
Number or routes: One route.
Difficulty: Moderate.

Krom River
 It’ll take about an hour’s drive to get to the start of this hike on the other side of the Huguenot Tunnel but the waterfalls and mountain pools are well worth the effort. You’ll need to book a permit to do this hike so there aren’t usually too many people around, making it a wonderfully quiet, unspoilt walk.
Number of routes: One route.
Difficulty: Moderate.

Tygerberg Nature Reserve 
Less than half an hour from Cape Town, and a short drive away from the Northern suburbs, this nature reserve is a great place for a walk or jog. As the only piece of nature in the area there are quite a few birds of prey around and small striped mice scurrying through the undergrowth. It’s not an expansive reserve, but it does offer a great view across Cape Town from the picnic spots.
Number or routes: Seven routes.
Difficulty: Easy.

Suicide Gorge
 This hike is in the Hottentots Holland Nature Reserve just over an hour from Cape Town. It’s an eight hour, physically taxing hike that should only be done with a guide or someone who has previous experience with the route.
Number or routes: One route.
Difficulty: Difficult.

Bontebok National Park
 This nature reserve is about three hours from Cape Town. The walks are easy-going; you can walk alongside the Breede River depending on which route you choose. If you’re lucky (and quiet) you can spot some of the resident bontebokkies or other creatures.
Number or routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Easy – moderate.

Just Nuisance’s grave 
It’s a short, steep climb up this Simon’s Town hill to the grave of Cape Town’s most beloved canine. From the top you’ll have a bird’s eye view of the seaside suburb unravelling below, and if your timing is right you may even hear the din of the naval trainees and their marching chants.  
Number or routes: Three routes.
Difficulty: Easy – difficult.

17 Dec 2014 No comments yet