A “casual walk” up Lion’s Head

During my university’s recent third term break, I made my way to the Western Cape to celebrate my best friends 21st birthday. I stayed for the whole nine days of vacation and she and I planned out a full week of activities (many of which we slept through because getting up before 10am during the holidays is just not going to happen when you are a third year varsity student. Sleeping in is a gift from the gods).

One of the things we actually did do was our “casual walk” up Lion’s Head.

One of her friends from the area suggested the activity as a fun thing to do to end off our Tuesday. “Its the full moon soon, you girls should take a walk up Lion’s Head and watch the sunset with some sundowners! It’s so much fun! Grannies and kids do it!” Now, I will take that statement as true if the aforementioned grannies and kids were bodybuilding grannies and terminator kids who are ridiculously fit and go to the gym for fun because Lion’s Head is not a “casual walk”. Lions Head is 669 meters above sea level. Lion’s Head is a hike.

We had been grossly misinformed.

After a day of cocktails and moseying around the Camps Bay beach, we made our way to the start of the trail.


A view of Cape Town from the base of the Lion’s Head hiking trail.

Lion’s Head is located between the iconic table mountain and the smaller Signal Hill (the less strenuous walk that we should have attempted).

It has his name due it looking like the head of a lion (with Signal Hill forming the body) to people viewing it from the Atlantic Ocean on the  False Bay/ Green Point side.

We arrived at the base of the hill armed with our wine and cheese, ready for a lovely 45 – 60 minute walk to the top. As soon as I stepped out of the car I could tell something was amiss. Other walkers (ahem, hikers) were armed with backpacks, hiking shoes and head torches. I had pitched up in jeans and tomy takkies.

The start of the trail. Just of that corner turn, the path became increasingly steep.

The start of the trail. Just of that corner turn, the path became increasingly steep.

Despite feeling quite under prepared, we trotted off up the path, excited to experience the sunset from the very top.

Full of energy as we began our walk.

Full of energy as we began our walk.

We were greeted by incredible views of Table Mountain which looked like a huge brown cake covered inn a thick layer of white icing which had begun to tumble down it’s sides.

Table mountain covered in it's "tablecloth" of clouds.

Table mountain covered in it’s “tablecloth” of clouds.


View from (nowhere near) the top.

View from (nowhere near) the top.

As well as a birds eye view of the incredibly beautiful (and incredibly expensive) Camps Bay where he had been only a few hours before.

Camps Bay from Lion's Head

Camps Bay from Lion’s Head

As we slowly made our way up the realisation slowly began to hit us; this was a bloody hike. Despite this harrowing realisation, the beautiful sunset that was beginning encouraged us on and up.

Although the views were spectacular, we began stripping off our layers of jackets and jerseys as we grew hotter and more flustered by the unexpected physical activity.

Increased heart rates and screaming shin muscles. We had not expected this.

Increased heart rates and screaming shin muscles. We had not expected this.

The goldens ray of the descending sun warmed our spirits as we pushed through our lack of fitness and increasing exhaustion.

It was becoming more and more clear that we were not going to make it to the top. The sun was going down quickly and the ropes and chains section of the trail where hikers have to bring out their inner spider monkeys to get to the summit was nearing.

My friend announced that she was too tired to go on and insisted that we continue on without her. This came as a blessing in disguise and we all determined that we would stay with her and watch the sunset from where we were which was just about 3/4 of the way up. My racing heart and screaming feet thanked the gods as I let out a heavy sigh of relief and sat down.

We popped open the wine and sat back to watch the sun go down over the indigo blue Atlantic Ocean.


Towards the sunset.


Peeking out from behind the rocky outcrop of Lion’s Head

From where we were sitting we had a fantastic view of Sea Point, Green Point and False Bay which were drenched in the golden light of the sun as it made its way down towards the horizon.

People who passed us by both to and from the summit were visibly and vocally jealous of our spread. We chowed down and enjoyed our sundowners while recovering from our unexpected hike.

The local flora and fauna (mostly bugs) kept my camera busy as I caught my breath and waited for the sunset

The local flora and fauna (mostly bugs) kept my camera busy as I caught my breath and waited for the sunset


Sunset almost complete.

The sun completely disappeared beyond the horizon at exactly 6.23 pm. I know this because I insisted that it would disappear at 6.22 as that was what my apple weather app had told me. I missed it by 1 minute #soclose

Silhouetted in the last moments of the sunset.

Silhouetted in the last moments of the sunset.

We gathered up our empty wine bottles, coke cans and salty crax containers and began our slightly less strenuous descent. The walk down was complicated by the darkness and lack of moonlight due to the moon being hidden behind the clouds.

Sitting there, almost on top of Cape Town, watching the world around me turn from green to gold to black, I felt an overwhelming sense of calm. The unexpected hike  had been a surprise but it had been a beautiful surprise. It showed as a different aspect of Cape Towns beauty; one that was separate from the luxury of the V & A Waterfront or the cultural hustle and bustle of Long Street.

Cape Town and it’s surroundings are truly some of the most naturally beautiful parts of this country.

We only made it 3/4 of the way but the sunset had still been beautiful. Hopefully when I go back to the Mother City in the near future I can make it all the way to the top.

One major life lesson was had that evening…my pounding heart and wheezing chest were incessant reminders that I need to head back to the gym asap. If I had to run for my life, I would die. #lazygirlproblems

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