While Cape Town’s cold, wet winters have been known to put a damper on the well-laid plans of locals, the rainfall brings fresh life to our mountains with streams and waterfalls. This makes winter the perfect time to explore hiking trails around the city. You can hit the trails anytime at a leisurely pace, provided you’re always hiking in the safety group, packed for all weather conditions with ample snacks and water, as well as the necessary emergency numbers.
Here are a few hiking trails that will definitely put a dash in your step this winter:
1. CECILIA WATERFALL HIKE
Desperately longing to bust out of isolation and be wowed by nature? A moderate hike of 4.7 km over approx. 2.5 hours, the path to Cecilia Waterfall should do the trick. Set off onto this hike from the Cecilia Forest car park, or from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The path is easy to follow and rewards passersby with shady trees, ferns and bright green undergrowth. The path may be slippery at times after the rain, but that’s also when the waterfall is at its most brilliant.
2. FARMER’S CLIFFS TRAIL
This easy-to-follow 8km (one way) hike starts at Smitswinkel Viewpoint parking area and ends at Buffels Bay beach in Cape Point Nature Reserve. The path heads up Judas Peak, then Die Boer before winding its way around the slopes of Paulsberg and climbing Kanonkop (there’s actually a canon atop the hill). The trail will take you down to the sea at Booi se Skerm Once you pass the old lime kiln on the tarred road you’ll reach Bordjiesdrif’s tidal pool and picnic area. To reach Buffel’s Bay Beach with tidal pool and ablution block, you’ll have to do a bit of boulder hopping (spotting Diaz and Da Gama monuments along the way).
Leave the dogs and young children at home for this trail and be sure to bring your camera for these breathtaking coastal views.
3. DEER PARK LOOP, TABLE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Deer Park Loop is a 4.7 km moderately trafficked loop trail (elevation gain 197m) in Deer Park nature reserve (forming part of Table Mountain National Park) which is perfect for families and dogs. Enjoy beautiful wild flowers and fynbos along this trail which is great for hiking, walking, running and mountain biking all year-round.
All the sweet city views on one side and Table Mountain flanking the other. During the rainy season, the rivers and streams begin to show up and spill over beautifully. There are bathroom facilities and designated picnic areas.
4. KIRSTENBOSCH YELLOWOOD TRAIL
Escape into the Kirstenbosch forests filled with large yellowood trees bearing glossy, narrow leaves. This 3km trail starts and ends at the Fragrance Garden taking approximately 1.5 hours and is steep in places. Walking clockwise it follows Smuts Track, beside Skeleton Stream (which runs most of the year), as far as Skeleton Waterfall on the 300 m contour path, and crosses Nursery Stream twice on the return path. After the rain, the river is flowing strongly and the waterfall running over a granite rock is at its most pristine.
PLEASE BE SAFE WHEN HIKING AROUND CAPE TOWN:
When hiking in and around Cape Town, always hike in groups and inform someone of your location and estimated time of return. When hiking into Table Mountain National Park keep these emergency numbers on hand: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700.