Hike up Lion’s Head

Hike up Lion’s Head

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Signal Hill

Our first outing in Cape Town was a hike, and was my choice. I can’t say I regret it, but it was a rather physically demanding day that we were completely unprepared for. I heard Lion’s Head was a great hike and a wonderful way to see the city. Not being much of a hiker, I was drastically unprepared for what was to come. We used Google maps and like it happens sometimes, we passed the actual entrance to Lion’s Head. We parked at Signal Hill instead.

There was a medium sized parking area with picnic benches. Tour buses filled with people were parked along the outer areas. Para gliders use the side of the hill launch themselves high above the city and soar over Cape Town with views of the sea. I’ve never seen people do this in real life; it was amazing! I wish we had the money to do it, and I wish Andrew wasn’t afraid of heights. The wind was strong enough that many of them were able to hover around one area before gliding down to land below.

Starting Lion’s Head

In the beginning, our walk towards Lion’s Head started at a gradual pace, but I eventually slowed us down to a snail’s pace stopping every few minutes to shake out my burning legs or catch my breath. I wasn’t too overwhelmed. The walk was nice and flat with small ups and downs. The views were spectacular and the higher we went, the better they got. The walk from Signal Hill to the base of Lion’s Head is fairly easy; it is only around 2 kilometers.

We reached the base of Lion’s Head and I knew I was going to be giving myself a lot of pep-talks. I was extremely grateful that the weather was beautiful, sunny, and warm. There was an excellent cool sea breeze to keep us from sweating too much. We began walking up the rocky terrain which wound around the mountain and switch-backed on itself more than a few times. If you aren’t overweight and out of shape like I am, the hike at this point would be considered fairly easy. The paths have been shaped out of the mountain and maintained very well. Apart from stepping on a loose stone or tripping there was nothing hard about this part of the hike.

We Have to Go Up

I was actually enjoying myself, even though I was dying! Ha! Andrew was very patient and kind to me and we stopped as often as I needed. At this point we’d been walking about an hour or hour and a half. We still had to go up! I assumed the trail kept gradually leading higher and higher. It did, but eventually we had to climb! Because we had started our hike in the mid-afternoon, we were worried that we may not make it down the mountain in time for dusk. Being stuck on a mountain at night was not something we wanted to do.

We began to notice that a lot of people were passing us going down the trail, but not a lot of people were going up the trail. We continued our hike, and arrived at at what can only be described as a vertical incline. Seriously. There was a metal ladder and hand grips built in to the side of the rocks. Luckily, we found where all the people where! Because you had to climb one at a time, people were waiting at the base of the ladder.

We both made it up safely (it was like 6 steps), and then we had to hike a bit more until we arrived at some tree roots we had to climb. I was so tired! I was really happy to see other people. We got to a flat area where we took a rest after the steep climbing. A few hikers were heading down so we asked them how much farther, and what the best way up was. They said there was about another hour to go up (maybe less, but for my out of shape butt, an hour.)

Do We Go on or Turn Back?

I really wanted to finish our hike, but sadly, I tapped out. Mostly due to worry that we wouldn’t make it back to the car by nightfall. I just didn’t think I had it in me. I had really enjoyed the whole hike, and we talked and decided we would come back and do it again with the proper gear and more water. My bag was really annoying me, and Andrew had to hold it most of the way. Unfortunately, we didn’t get a chance to come back and finish the hike, but I was proud of us for how far we got.

We headed back down the side of the mountain and stopped at a bench to eat our picnic lunch, which we had been carrying the whole way. The weather was perfect and we were exhausted and sore. The views were amazing! I am so glad we did this hike, and I do regret we didn’t finish it. Finishing it or not, I was really proud of myself and I had a great time!

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