If you’ve been following my stories on Instagram, you probably already know that Cape Town is the best city in South Africa.
Between the incredible hikes in Cape Town, the delicious vegan food, quirky street art and the drop-dead gorgeous locals, I fell hard for the Mother City.
After living in the city for 4-years, I can confirm that the Lion’s Head hike is one of those things that any local, visitor or expat should take advantage of.
Here’s everything you need to know about conquering the Lion’s Head hiking trail!
Psst…Want more Cape Town travel tips? Check out these other posts:
- 12 Best Hiking Trails in Cape Town With Jaw-Dropping Views
- 15+ Irresistible Day Trips from Cape Town
- The Perfect Cape Town Itinerary for One Incredible Week
- Where to Stay in Cape Town: A Guide to the Best Neighbourhoods
- 45 Awesome Things to Do in Cape Town: A (Hella Long) Local’s Guide
- 20+ Most Instagrammable Places in Cape Town
Table of Contents
What You Need to Know Before You Hike Lion’s Head
- Lion’s Head Hike Opening Times: The trail is open to the public 24/7.
- Lion’s Head Hike Entrance Fee: Free! It’s one of the best things to do in Cape Town that won’t cost you a dime.
- Difficulty: Lion’s Head is an easy hike. But if you haven’t done regular exercise in a while, you’ll find the route quite challenging (especially the beginning up-hill climb and the rock scrambling). There are also chain ladders you’ll need to conquer. However, if you’re terrified of heights, you can take the longer route to the top.
- Lion’s Head Hike Time: It depends on your fitness level, but it should take you 1-hour each way.
- Dog-friendly: Lion’s Head is a dog-friendly hike. However, smaller dogs might struggle a bit at the top.
How to Get to Lion’s Head
Lion’s Head is part of Table Mountain National Park and one of the many Table Mountain hiking trails. It’s only a few minutes from the centre of Cape Town and lies between Signal Hill (come here for a sundowner!) and Table Mountain.
- Car: The easiest way to get to Lion’s Head is by car. There is a parking lot right by the start of the trail, or you can take an Uber.
- Bus: Buy a MyCity bus card and get off at the “Kloof Nek” bus stop. The bus is a cheap option, but not the fastest way to get around Cape Town. You’ll also need to walk up a steep hill to the start of the trail.
What to Pack for the Lion’s Head Hike
- Hiking Shoes: You need to survive a steep uphill, loose rocks, chain ladders and rock scrambling. Wear a decent pair of hiking shoes with grip to avoid rolling your ankle or stumbling.
- Water: There isn’t much shade on the hike, and it won’t take much for you to sweat buckets (especially in the summer when temperatures hit the high 20s and mid-30s). I use a Hydroflask because it keeps my water ice-cold even in the heat of the summer.
- Food: Once you make it to the top, have a picnic! For sunrise missions up Lion’s Head, I always pack a canister of coffee and rusks. It’s the best way to start the day.
- Jacket: Cape Town is infamous for its four seasons in a day. Pack a lightweight jacket in your bag in case the weather turns, or it’s windy at the top of the mountain.
- Head Lamp: If you’re climbing Lion’s Head for the full moon or sunrise, you’ll need a headlamp to help you get up or down safely.
- Camera: The views going up the mountain and at the top are incredible. Bring your smartphone or DSLR and unleash your inner Insta baddie.
- Travel Insurance: While Lion’s Head isn’t a dangerous hike, it’s not uncommon for people to fall down the mountain. Before you start the hike, make sure you have the numbers of emergency services, and you have travel insurance. I use World Nomads as it covers you for a range of outdoor and adventure activities.
The Best Time to Hike Lion’s Head
The best time to hike Lion’s Head depends on what experience you’re after.
Sunrise: Sunrise is the best time to hike Lion’s Head if you’re looking for small crowds at the summit. In the summer, the mornings are less popular as the sun only rises at 6:00 am. If you’re visiting in the winter, the sun comes up at 7:30 am which means you don’t need to start the hike at 4:00 am. If you want to hike Lion’s Head at sunrise, it’s usually safe (you won’t be the only one on the trail), but I always recommend hiking in a group.
Sunset: Sunset is the most popular time to hike Lion’s Head throughout the year. The views are incredible, and it’s one of the best ways to end of the day. The only downside is you won’t be alone and might struggle to find a spot to watch the sunset.
Full Moon: The full moon Lion’s Head hike is something you should experience at least once. Not only will you get to watch the sunset, but you’ll also get to see the moon rise over the Mother City. Don’t forget to bring a headlamp to help you get off the mountain safely!
How to Find Wally’s Cave
Please Note: Wally’s Cave is currently closed to hikers. The trail has become DANGEROUS, and you’ll be FINED a hefty sum if you’re caught going off the path towards the cave.
Wally’s Cave is one of the most Instagrammable places in Cape Town. It’s a small cave on Lion’s Head and worth the detour.
To find the cave, follow the Lion’s Head trail until you get to the first set of metal ladders. Instead of going up the ladder, continue walking on the left and cross a fire fence.
Continue on the old hiking trail past a broken bench. The trail will hug the rock face, and you’ll eventually come to a rocky area which overlooks Table Mountain.
Here you’ll find Wally’s Cave!
While it doesn’t look like a cave from the lower ledge, once you’ve climbed up a few rocks, you’ll come to the entrance of the cave.
Paragliding Off Lions Head
Need an adrenaline rush? Jump off of Lion’s Head and paraglide over the city!
It’s one of the best things to do in Cape Town and a stunning way to take in the Mother City’s beauty.
Depending on the weather conditions, the launch site is a few minutes from the start of the trail, and you’ll glide over Sea Point, Green Point and the Atlantic Seaboard.
Where to Stay in Cape Town
Gorgeous George: Gorgeous George is a stunning hotel in the heart of Cape Town’s CBD. It comes with a rooftop pool, bar and restaurant. Even if you don’t end up staying here, come here for the delicious cocktails!
The Grand Daddy Hotel: Ever stayed in an airstream trailer on a rooftop? Book a night at the Grand Daddy Hotel. Located in Cape Town’s CBD, you can choose from themed trailers decked out by some of the city’s top designers.
Once in Cape Town: Once in Cape Town is one of the best hostels in Cape Town. Located in Kloof Street, it’s within walking distance from the city’s famous Loop Street, bars, and cafes. Plus, it’s only a short Uber ride from Table Mountain, Camps Bay, Waterfront and Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens.
Got any questions about hiking Lion’s Head? Did I leave out any important info? Hit ya gurl up in the comments below!
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