Of all the great nature destinations in the world, one that should not be overlooked is the Lion’s Head in Cape Town, South Africa. A natural preserve that is rich in culture, history, and activities for the adventurous types, Lion’s Head stands 669 meters above sea level. At this height, the view of the city of Cape Town is breath taking. It is also a great spot to snap a few impressive vacation photos to share with your friends.
The name was originally given by the Dutch in the 17th century who named the peak Leeuwen Kop (Lion’s Head) as a counterpart to Leeuwen Staart (Lion’s Tail) which is now known as Signal Hill. Signal Hill and Lion’s Head are both part of the Table Mountain Chain, which is part of the Table Mountain National Park. Established in 1998 to protect the ecosystem, Table Mountain National Park consists of this mountain chain and the Cape of Good Hope.
There are several ways to make it to the top of the Lion’s Head. The easier and more leisurely way is to take the cable car to the top. This would be for anyone who is not dressed or prepared for a steep, three-hour mountain hike. Along the way, the cable riders can enjoy the spectacular view of the sea and the city without having to get up out of their seats. Not only do cable riders get to experience a leisurely tour of the scenery, but they are also not limited to the view from only one side of the car. The cable car revolves as it climbs up and down the mountain, giving spectators a 360-degree view of the area.
The more adventurous way to experience Lion’s Head, and arguably the best way, is to take the hike to the top. It is approximately a three-hour hike, so water and sunscreen are necessary! Starting at Signal Hill Road, the trail circles the mountain and meets up with the start of the “chain trail”. The chains are in place to help hikers up the steep and potentially treacherous terrain. There is another path that hikers can take without the aid of the chains, but it is advisable to stay on the chained path unless you are a skilled and experienced hiker.
Along the way to the top, spectators and hikers pass historic grave sites and shrines of the Malay people. Along the slopes of the hills, paragliders can be seeing setting sail into the sky.
The view from the top is unparalleled. There is no better view of the city or of the neighboring Signal Hill (about 400 meters taller) than from the top of the Lion’s Head. The view of Robben Island Prison, the historical place where Nelson Mandela was held for 19 years, is also spectacular. Photos and memories captured on this peak are priceless.
Hikers are not limited to enjoying the view during the daylight hours. A very popular activity at Lion’s Head is night hiking. Hikers love the thrill of climbing up the mountain by the light of the moon. There is never a bad time to plan a trip to see the beautiful Lion’s Head. It is always ready to be explored, even at night, and it is open all year long.