Journey To The Lions Head In South Africa
Take a walk on the wild side by tackling this majestic beast. True, Table Mountain is the most famous landmark in Cape Town, but don’t overlook its little brother. While most people take the cable car to reach the Table’s plateau, the journey to the summit of Lion’s Head is harder but far more rewarding. It’s also free and you don’t have to queue.
Part of the dramatic backdrop to the city, you can scale its 669 metres (or 2,000 feet, which sounds higher) with a walk which will take an hour to 90 minutes. There are routes for most levels of fitness, so all the family can take the trip.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can scramble up the steep rocky parts with the help of chains and ladders and inch along narrow ledges, but there are easier ways to the top.
The trail winds around the mountain in a spiral so you can take in the scenery in all directions along the way, even before you get to the top and the simply stunning views which await you.
Here is the chance to take those photos that’ll make all your friends jealous. The view is truly breathtaking, if you have any puff left.
You’ll soon realise it was worth every effort as you gaze out over Cape Town and the bay and out to the Atlantic and Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. When you get right up to the edge of the vertigo-inducing cliffs, you can enjoy the sights while sitting with your feet dangling over. Just maybe don’t look down.
It’s worth getting up early to set off in the dark and watch the sun rise over Cape Town from its peak, or climb in the later afternoon to catch the sunset. Full moon hikes are also a monthly event, and a great chance to enjoy a moonlit picnic under the stars.
You’ll likely spot paragliders, who launch themselves into the thermal air currents from the slopes and aim to land on the golden beaches below. Also keep your eyes peeled for the local wildlife sunning themselves on the rocks, including the black girdled lizard and the brightly coloured reptile called the blue-headed southern rock agama.
When preparing for your adventure, our top tips are to take sunscreen, a warm jumper for the chilly peak and a head torch if it’s dark, plus sturdy shoes.
And the unusual name? In the 17th century the English tried to call it Sugar Loaf. Thankfully, to avoid confusion with the one in Rio de Janeiro, the Dutch name of Leeuwen Kop, or Lion’s Head, won out. Nearby Signal Hill was Leeuwen Staart or Lion’s Tail, as together the peaks were thought to look like a crouching lion.