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Top 5 Secret Hikes in Cape Town and Surrounds

Now that we are permitted to go outdoors and stretch our legs it is important that we stay out of crowded areas. That includes crowded outdoor areas such as Lions Head and Signal Hill. Most people go on these hikes because they are familiar to them and hold a great view. But, if you’re always doing the same thing, you don’t give yourself the chance to branch out and have new experiences. I’ve compiled a list of my 5 favourite, underrated hikes in Cape Town and surrounds, along with a difficulty level attached to each of them so that you can see what you’re getting yourself into. The first hike that I’d like to share is quite possibly my favourite place in the world: Krom River.

Krom River

Difficulty: 3 out of 5

Krom River is situated just outside Paarl and is a steady easy hike along the river side. After a 90-minute walk there is a waterfall with chains along the side to aid in the climb. Once you’re on top of the first waterfall it’s a 5-minute walk to the main pool with a bigger waterfall for jumping. The best time to head to this hike is early morning so that you can spend the day at the waterfall and pools at the top. The hike only has one section which is a steady uphill, which makes it an easy hike for all ages and fitness levels. Despite the icy mountain water, many people hike on the weekends just to reach the top and jump from the waterfall into the pools. It is a magical place and totally worth the drive. 

Eagle's Nest

Difficulty: 2 out of 5

Eagles Nest is situated in-between Constantia and Hout Bay and is referred to as the “back tail” of Table Mountain. This is a short 30-minute hike up to a 360-degree viewing point overlooking the mountains. You can either choose to extend the time of the hike and go along the contour of the mountain, or you can keep it at 30-minutes and walk straight up. This is a hike that is dog friendly and acts as a substitute for Lions Head. It’s easier, shorter, and has a much better view! Put aside some time on a Sunday to hike up with your family and get your blood pumping. If you want a slightly more challenging hike along Constantia, the Cecilia Waterfall trail is definitely for you.

Cecilia Forest Waterfall

Difficulty: 4 out of 5

The starting point for the Cecilia Forest Hike is along Rhodes Drive, just above Wynberg. I tried this hike 3 times before I actually found the waterfall, so I suggest going with a map or clear instructions on how to find it! The hike is a straight uphill climb, lined with trees and swinging vines that make for a fun adventure. It takes about an hour to reach the waterfall and the higher up you go the more slippery it gets! It is not a very big waterfall, and there is no swimming area in this one, but it is a beautiful view with a gorgeous spot to sit and relax when you reach the top. I suggest you do this one with 1 or 2 other people as there is limited space once you reach the top. If small waterfalls and steep inclines aren’t for you, then I suggest you try Deer Park.

Boomslang Caves

Difficulty: 3 out of 5

One of the coolest hikes to do with your friends is Boomslang Caves. It starts off with a long and tedious mountain climb which I never really enjoy, however, when you start to reach the top there is an incredible view of the ocean and the mountains that you simply cannot replicate. The flora at the top of the mountain is so diverse that any nature-lover will instantly fall in love. And if the view isn’t enough there is an entire cave section from the one end of the mountain all the way through to the other side! Make sure you bring a torch, and preferably a headtorch as there are sections of the cave that require you to crawl on your belly as you make your way out. If you are claustrophobic, there is an entire section of the cave which is rather large and you can still walk into (sort of like a small room), however, as your friends start crouching and crawling you can turn around and meet them on the other side of the mountain. This is definitely a bucket-list hike. It is roughly 3 hours and it becomes a lot of fun when you’ve got a big group who all go together. 

Deer Park

Difficulty: 1 out of 5

Deer Park is not really a hike, more of an intense walk. This is smack-bang above Cape Town in the upper parts of Vredehoek. You can either park at the top of Deer Park drive or take the MyCity bus to a stop that is one road away from the starting point. This walk is 20 minutes along the river and leads up to an incredible waterfall that is always running. There are picnic tables and spots all along the walk that make for a quick romantic getaway of friendly catch up with a flask of hot coffee. Right at the top there are some ruins where a few people are living, so please make sure to respect their living space and keep your distance from their homes. If you stay along the river you won’t bother them and can still enjoy the gorgeous view. The best time to do this hike is probably in the afternoon where the sun starts setting and turns Deer Park into a golden paradise.

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A list of what to bring:

  • Water bottle
  • A Rehidrat sachet
  • A fruit (apples are good!)
  • A lightweight raincoat
  • Tissues
  • Sunscreen
  • Pepper spray
  • A First-Aid kit with plasters, bandages, and anti-septic solution
  • A pocket knife (just in case you see a little animal tied up in garbage or want to cut something - very handy!)
  • Headache tablets (the worst thing ever is hiking with a headache...)


A note on hiking safety:

Below I have drawn up a list of things you should consider packing when you’re going for a hike, along with this I have also noted things you must be aware if you want to hike any trail:

  • Firstly, baboons. Despite the horror stories that you’ve heard, baboons don’t really bother with humans unless they have food. If you are faced with one, you should walk away slowly. Do not scream or make loud noises. At the end of the day you are walking through their home and they will get frightened by you. If they are in the middle of your path and there is a river nearby you should walk in the river and avoid confrontation with them. They are not hunting you down, they are simply doing their best to protect themselves and their family.
  • Secondly, injuries on the hike is something you should always prepare for. Either a scrape or a cut or a twisted ankle. Make sure you pack a small first aid kit that can help you with these daily hiking injuries and that you have some basic knowledge on how to treat them. 
  • Lastly, something we must always take into account is muggings while hiking. Carrying a small pepper-spray either in your hand or holstered in your pocket (easily available) is something you should definitely do when you’re in the mountains. Make sure that you are never hiking alone and that you have your emergency contacts as the most recently dialed numbers just in case anything happens, and you need to quickly get hold of them. I’ve never been mugged while hiking, but it is a precaution we should all take.

I hope that despite the lockdown blues, you can still get out and exercise safely and happily. These are my favourite hikes and I know that they will bring you as much joy as they’ve brought me. Until next time.

Your girl, Nat.

Ocean-lover, adventurer, writer. I enjoy reading and drinking coffee. I am passionate about my studies and empowering womxn. In my free time I work as a medic on the road and I teach self-defence to young girls in underprivileged areas through a NPO called FightBackSA.
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