Whether you are a professional triathlete, someone who likes to take walks on a regular basis, or someone who literally gets food delivered from one block away and then forces her sister to pick it up at the front door – like me –. Cape Town has some amazing walk/hike trails waiting to be discovered for every level there is. These trails will lead you to the most amazing views, unbelievable landscapes and breathtaking sunsets.
Let’s get this walking party started with a sunset that can be reached by your beloved UBER. Yes, that’s right, even though this is a blog about walks and hikes. I didn’t want to take the beautiful signal hill sunset away from you. The best thing about being able to reach this one by car is that you can take a whole picnic with you, to enjoy the sun going down. If you’d rather do something more adventurous, signal hill is a perfect opportunity to see the sunrise. In Summer you’ll have to reach the top by 5.30 am to see the first drop of sunlight, in winter you can almost sleep in with the sun coming up as late as 7.30 am.
Another hike-but-no-hike is sunset rock. Unlike Signal Hill though, you’ll have to prepare yourself for a five-minute walk (lazy people gasping in the background) in between bushes and boulders of all shapes and sizes. You can climb onto them and enjoy a 360 degrees view with the most expensive villa in cape town right behind you, lion’s head, the 12 apostles, Clifton beach, Robben Island and of course the sunset all in one horizon. Load up your camera’s and prepare your model poses because this is a truly instagrammable moment.
Lion’s head is one of those hikes you end up doing a few times. Why? It’s a rather easy hike that has a lot of diversity between just walking, taking stairs, hiking up rocks and a small piece of climbing. The first time I went up there it took me 90 minutes, this may not seem like a long time but once you’ll do the hike, you’ll see why 90 minutes is a laughable amount of time. The last time I did it, it took me only 45 minutes to complete. While I’m getting fitter, the only thing that remains the same about this hike is the stunning views throughout the hike and the beautiful sunset on top. As with Signal Hill, this is a popular hike to complete early in the morning, since this one is higher up, you’ll be above the clouds while the rising sun paints a yellow-pink-orange palate on the white cloudy canvas.
If you are a ‘not so fit’ person a.k.a lazy like me, please don’t make skeleton gorge your first hike. After a few times up lion’s head, I was able to do this, but unfortunately our roommate Audrey gave up halfway. This has to do with the fact that even though the trail is in the woods, so not as hot as e.g. table mountain, the trail is almost exclusively stairs, and pretty steep ones. This is basically your cardio for the week, but then with a stunning view as your treat. About two thirds into the trail you climb up a waterfall, which is my favourite part. Although it is steep and slippery, if you don’t rush it, it’s not dangerous at all. All the way at the end of the hike, you can opt to continue to table mountain to see the sunset, but this will definitely be a full day trip, lasting you about 6 hours. Even though Skeleton Gorge is not really a ‘sunset hike’, due to the fact that it is quite dangerous to go down in minimal lighting, the view in full sunlight makes it evenly worth it.
Platteklip / India Venster
Platteklip Gorge is the best-known trail to go up table mountain, it is the shortest and easiest way up there and relatively short. The average hiker will finish this trail in a good hour and a half, while the more fit person can easily reach a time of under an hour. Although I haven’t been able to go up table mountain myself, one of my roommates told me she took a good three hours to finish this one, being it her first hike in Cape Town and due to extreme temperatures. Table mountain is completely open to sunlight and because of this, it is better to hike these trails earlier in the morning or later in the afternoon. If you’d like to see the sunset from the top of table mountain it is advised to go down by cable car, as table mountain can become quite dangerous and prone to crime after daylight. The India Venster is just another way another way to get up to table mountain, it is a more advanced and adventurous way where you’ll have to climb a lot, it also takes about 3 to 4 hours to complete and is impossible to go down from. If you’ve done the Platteklip already or you just like the challenge of climbing instead of walking up, India Venster is the trail for you, with the same amazing view and sunset at the end of it.
These are the five best places to watch the sun go down while having an amazing view on the city. Of course you can enjoy the sunset from anywhere, like the beach, a nice terrace with a beer. however, believe me, you will enjoy the miraculous sunset more when you work for it, even if it was just a little bit.
See you in the next blog,