Lion’s Head

Sitting in Johannesburg recently for two weeks with rain pouring down nonstop, I started really missing home. I was looking forward to Jozi’s warm weather with that awesome late afternoon thundershowers. Instead I got what felt like two weeks in London or Ireland… No, I’m not busy dissing Jozi, I’m just saying, well basically, my little i10 rental almost didn’t survive the potholes and it wasn’t pleasant.

Browsing Facebook one evening I saw a friend post a pic of Lion’s Head in all its glory and I could swear I saw it winking at me… What a beauty.

Photo by Tessa Bailey

What mostly happens when tourists arrive in Cape Town, is try to find out as quickly as possible what they have to do in their time here. What boggles my mind sometimes though is how some local, born and bred Capetoninas have never even experienced what most tourists have. One of them being a hike up Lion’s Head. You know who you are…

Lion’s Head forms part of the Table Mountain range set between Signal Hill and Table Mountain and I like to think of it as one of the Table’s lil siblings. It’s 669m above sea level which makes for a relatively easy and enjoyable hike with views of Table Bay (for the newbies, this is the harbour, Waterfront etc.) as well as the Atlantic Seaboard (this is areas like Sea Point, Clifton, Camps Bay etc.)

From my not-so-professional research, I found that the Dutch apparently gave it the name Lion’s Head (originally first Leeuwen Kop) in the 17th century and Signal Hill which stretches out in front of the peak was referred to as Leeuwen Staart (Lion’s tail)… They could somehow see the two peaks and the space between it resemble the shape of a crouching lion… Until this day I struggle to see it. I have however created my own picture of a lion on Lion’s Head and whenever I go out on those little boats in the harbour at the V&A Waterfront I just nod along like I know exactly what the guy is talking about.

A hike up Lion’s Head is really easily doable… I myself have done it numerous times whilst being a tad unfit, although I wouldn’t recommend it to super unfit people or people with injuries or knee problems. I have seen many people turn around on the gravel road before the real climbing has even begun. But, then again, I have also seen those crazies who run up and down before they’ve even had breakfast… your call.

To be safe, check the weather conditions before you head out, set out at least three hours for the hike and some time at the top, and don’t forget drinking water and packing some snacks.

How to get there:

Drive up Kloof Nek road as if going towards Camps Bay. Instead of turning left towards the cable station, turn right onto Signal Hill road. Park your car, or let someone drop you off by the little wooden hut by the boom and start your hike up the gravel road.

Finally, if you are one of those Capetonians mentioned above, grab your walking shoes and make a plan to go tackle that Lion already!

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