Hiking Lions Head in Cape Town is definitely a bucket list experience. If you are coming to Cape Town on holiday you should definitely try and hike up Lions Head at least once. The views are spectacular and it is actually one of the quickest and easiest hikes close to the city. You need to do your homework before heading up this iconic Cape Town mountain though.
If you are planning on hiking Lions Head you do need to be prepared. I have been up to the top on numerous occasion so I thought I would share all my tips with you!
Hiking Lions Head – Everything you need to know
How to get to Lions Head
Lions Head is a huge landmark in Cape Town and pretty easy to spot in town. Luckily it is super easy to get to as well so no need to stress about getting there especially for sunrise.
You can easily get to Lions head parking lot and the start of the hike a few ways. You can drive there in your own or rented car, you can take a Uber or you can take the MyCiti bus.
The bus stop is probably about 700m away from the start but that shouldn’t make too much of a difference if you are going to be hiking anyway. Just be aware that the bus times might not be the best for sunrise hikes in Summer and the best and safest option will probably be uber at that time of year.
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Is hiking Lions Head free
A lot of people want to know if Lions Head is a free hike. Most hikes in Cape Town are free of charge unless it is in an area that you need a permit. Thankfully you don’t need to pay for going up Lions Head which makes it extremely popular with locals and tourist alike.
What is the best time to hike up Lions Head
Mornings are generally a great time to go up Lions Head. It is an extremely popular hike for sunrise and the parking lot will be full from about 4:30am in Summer time to catch the sunrise from the top.
Sunset’s are also popular but you will mostly need to hike down after the sun has gone down. If you don’t own a headlamp or you aren’t a great hiker this might not be for you.
During the cooler months it is great to hike throughout the day but in Summer it might get really hot so take that into account when planning your hike.
Checking the weather a day or to prior to hiking Lions Head is always a great idea!
How long does it take to hike to the top of Lions Head
Seasoned trail runners can go up in about 20 minutes but for most of us it will take about 40 minutes with a few rest/photo stops. The first part of the hike is on a jeep track with quite a steep gradient and after that it is a slight slope around the mountain with a few small boulder climbs. To get to the very top you will once again have quite a steep scramble to the top.
Is hiking Lions Head safe
In terms of crime Lions Head is relatively safe I would say. Table Mountain national park has upped their security and they do have rangers patrolling the mountain. There are also almost always numerous people hiking which makes it safer. I would still suggest not going alone if you are not from here, it is always best to go up in groups.
In terms of path safety there are accidents on this mountain every year. Don’t be scared though because as long as you hike safely nothing will happen. I see kids, senior citizens and even small dogs hike to the top with no problem. Stay on the path and don’t try and stand on rocks that are off path for instagram photos.
Must I go up chains to get to the top
There are two ways to get to the top of Lions Head. Around the mid point of your hike you will find a sign. It will direct you to either go up to the chains or round the rump of lions head.
The chains are not the biggest deal but if you are afraid of heights, physically impaired in any way or you are hiking with small children or dogs you will have to skip them. The rock face is easy to climb with chains and staples to help you up. It is the fastest route up to the top but it does get congested during peak times.
The second route is our favorite. It takes you once again around the side of the mountain and up the rump. There are no chains here and just a bit of scrambling.
What do I need to take on the hike
- Water ( a reuseable bottle )
- Something warm as the weather can change very fast in Cape Town
- A camera or phone to capture all the beauty you are about to experience.
- Sunblock or a hat if you are heading up on a warm day
- Something to snack on
- Torches for sunrise or sunset hikes
Best clothing to wear when hiking Lions Head
Always be prepared when hiking any mountain. I have seen a lot of tourists struggling up the mountain wearing normal shoes, jeans, sandals and even a suit once!
Best clothing to wear are comfortable workout clothes like tights, shorts and tees with good running shoes or even better some trail shoes. Trail shoes are the best for the jeep track which is full of small stones and people regularly slip there when wearing normal running shoes. Also always pack a hat and a warm top no matter what you might think the weather will be like.
What else do I need to know when Hiking Lions Head
- It is an actual hike not a walk so be prepared.
- If you go off the path it could result in a spot fine of $50 or more
- The popular cave on Lions Head ( Wally’s cave ) is closed as the path is dangerous and is busy being rehabilitated. You will get a fine if found anywhere near the cave. An instagram photo is not worth it.
- Do not litter on the mountain. If you took it up you can take it down again. If you can’t go without smoking, take your cigarette butts with you.
- Be respectful on the mountain. Don’t scream, play loud cellphone music or be a pest to other hikers.
- Stay safe and stay on the path.
- Stay hydrated and don’t over exert yourself.
- Smile and say hi to fellow hikers. It creates a nice vibe and makes everyone feel in good spirits.
- There is a Vida E-Cafe van parked at the bottom by the parking lot. They sell snacks and refreshments and accept credit and debit cards as well as snapscan if you don’t have a wallet on you.
- If you make any stories or instagram posts remember to tag @lionsheadct for a possible reshare or feature.