5 hiking trails in Cape Town that will leave you breathless

Cape Town has a strong outdoor culture with hiking rated as one of the top activities, with mountain chains, hectares of forest and vast nature reserves right on its doorstep. Here are five hiking adventures to embark on.

 1. Table Mountain 
Table Mountain is Cape Town’s most famous landmark and boasts a network of hiking trails with various lengths, time and difficulty. These hikes cover all types of terrain, from well-defined paths to rocky inclines with lots of scrambling and exposure to heights. The most well-trodden trail is Platteklip Gorge — a short but steep route that takes you up the center of the table to the summit where you can take the cable car down.  The Nursery Ravine/Skeleton Gorge route is a more challenging hike that begins at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden and follows a steep pathway over rocks and up wooden ladders to Maclear’s Beacon, the highest point of the mountain. India Venster is a difficult and technical route that takes hikers to the top of the India Ravine (shaped like the country) and traverses the western section of Table Mountain towards Camps Bay. On the Atlantic side, Pipe Track and Kasteelspoort are relatively easy meanders below the Twelve Apostles Range affording panoramic views of Camps Bay.

2. Lion’s Head  
Lion’s Head is the iconic mountain peak to the right of Table Mountain. It is one of the city’s most popular hiking trails for its magnificent views of the Atlantic ocean, mountains and the city. The trail begins at Signal Hill Road and follows a steep but fairly easy track to a section below the summit, where you’ll need to climb to the top with the help of chains and ladders. If that sounds too daunting, an alternate but slightly longer path also takes you to the summit.

3. Newlands Forest 
Situated on the Eastern slopes of Table Mountain, Newlands Forest offers a variety of walks and hiking trails for all levels of fitness. The forest contains many unique sights such as the historic Lady Anne Barnard Cottage, the Newlands Reservoir, the City Parks Nursery as well as numerous rivers, streams and indigenous fynbos. Popular trails include the Contour Path to Rhodes Memorial, the Forest Station Walk and the Fernwood Trail up to Newlands Ravine — a moderate hike that travels uphill to a lookout point with fantastic views of the southern suburbs.

4. Cape Point
Cape Point Nature Reserve is situated at the south-western tip of Africa in the Table Mountain National Park. There are numerous one-day hiking trails with diverse scenery ranging from deserted beaches to shipwrecks, local wildlife and impressive sea cliffs. Popular trails include the circular Sirkelsvlei route and the Cape Point to Cape of Good Hope trail, which showcases a beautiful landscape and ocean.

5. Chapman’s Peak
Chapman’s Peak trail is situated above the famous marine drive between Noordhoek and Hout Bay, and leads visitors to the highest point of the mountain. It is a moderate three-hour hike, including stops for photos, and boasts 360 degree vistas of the peninsula. The route begins just beyond the toll gate (where you collect a free day pass) and follows a steep stone pathway that levels out toward the top. Beautiful scenery including proteas, watsonias and other endemic flowers add colour to the mountainside.

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