Lion's Head! Named as such by the Dutch in the 17th century because the mountain resembles a Lion or Sphinx with signal hill being the body. It's an iconic trail and very likely the most walked day hike/trail in South Africa. This trail follows the standard route up Lions head but allows for an interesting detour to see the Veranda and Wally's Cave. This is a good variation if you wish to do something out of the ordinary and especially if you have done the Lions head hike many times before. The trail starts and ends at the parking area on Signal Hill Road. There is limited parking available and one might have to parallel park up to a few hundred meters down the road but it's an easy walk to the start, be on the lookout for speeding traffic on this section. Uber can pick up and drop off here but don't make sure yours is all set up and working first. When starting, after the information board the trail ascends some initial stairs and follows a Westerly direction on a jeep track. Soon after following this track one will see a few benches and a paragliding launch site. Shortly after this the trail narrows to a somewhat wide walking track. The route then winds around Lion's Head above Seapoint and then steepens on the Eastern side before reaching the first metal ladder. NB!! this is the split for the detour to the Veranda and Wally's Cave. The signpost on the left of the ladder warns as a "dangerous" route and no entry (I'll elaborate more on this shortly) you can continue up the ladder to complete the standard route up and down Lions head if you choose. If however you decide to take the detour you will follow the old route up Lions head from the 70's and 80's. The path is faint and somewhat eroded but not at all dangerous for experienced hikers except for the section right at the Veranda, this is the only exception. You continue along this path until you find the old bench. Here you have a choice, follow the path straight which leads to the Veranda, this is a steep climbing wall on the western face of Lions head, it is also directly above Wally's cave. The cliff and the view is quite the sight from here unfortunately the waypoint with the pictures I had took didn't save. NB!! If you wish to proceed directly to Wally's cave and skip the Veranda then after the bench you will have to look for a faint path that is Lower down. There is a Cairn marking here and onward from this point there are a few safe ways to get down to the lower path (about 5 to 10 meters lower than the bench path). Once you find this lower path it's an easy one to follow around the bottom of the rock line. Once you turn the corner Wally's cave will be directly above you and easily visible. Then it's an easy climb up some rocks to the Cave Entrance. The cave is a great sight but please take care of loose rocks and think carefully about walking onto the thin ledge to replicate the somewhat famous Instagram photo. This spot is tight and the fall from that ledge can be well over a story or more. The view from the cave entrance is more than spectacular enough. Just a disclaimer here there are a few other caves on Lion's Head but that is a story for another trail on some other day. After you have enjoyed some solitude it is straight back past the bench again and then back to the ladder to proceed to the summit. Once you reach the bottom of the chains you have the option to take this shortcut. It's an easy scramble up the holds but if you prefer you can take the longer route up which doesn't require climbing (we did this route on the way down for a change but going down the chains route is also an option). Thereafter it's straightforward along the edge to the top. Once you arrive at the top its 360 degree views and a ton of tourists taking photos (this does depend on the season, day of the week etc) but you can find quieter days or times of day if an escape is what you are after. Once done at the summit soaking up the views it's back down the same route you took to get up with the option of bypassing the chains. I always take an alternative route down if possible to make a hike more interesting but this is entirely up to you. When starting and ending the hike we were welcomed by the sight of rangers keeping an eye out and making sure the area was safe. The crowds that climb lions head daily, annoying as they can be at times also help with safety in numbers so that, to some extent makes this trail safer than some other trails in Cape Town. That being said be cautious and don't take unnecessary risks esp after dark and on and around Signal Hill road when leaving or arriving at your vehicle. Naturally don't leave any items of value visible in your car. As for the tourists and trail runners be careful whilst most are curtious and will move off, wait or be considerate in finding a way for both parties to pass, there are some that push and don't care. This can and has been lethal in the past so keep your concentration and take the passive approach if you happen to cross path with one of these type of individuals. That bei g said Lions head remains a fantastic hike and even if someone only has a handful of days in Cape Town this should be on your itinerary. The near 360 sea and city views as well as table mountain dominating the sky to the South is always a sight to behold no matter how many times you have seen it. Bottom line is do this hike!
Information sign at the Start and End
Sign at start, read the information and take note of emergency contact information just as a precautionary measure.
First Bench on the Ascent
First Bench on the jeep track that overlooks Table mountain and Camps bay.
Paragliding Launch Spot
The Southern launch site on Lion's Head. Used when wind is calm
Next to path flowering Jan only a few specimens spotted on Lion's Head, not something I have seen on other hikes in and around the Cape.
Old bench, Crucial waypoint
On path when trying to find Wally's cave, after this spot keep at same level to go to Veranda or go lower near a Cairn or route down to lower path to reach Wally's Cave.
The veranda above Wally's cave
Veranda above cave, this is actually the corner, the Veranda is around the corner, be careful here as the drop is sheer.
Optional Way back up from lower path
Way back up to Bench from lower path that leads to Wally's Cave
Cairn to cave on the Corner
Cairn marking the way, after turning the corner, Wally's cave will be easily visible above and only a few meters walk.
Cave on the Western side of Lions head but views face South, Table Mountain dominating the skyline above.
The Cairn and left down to Wally's lower path
Left turn down to lower path this is another option to head down to the lower path or from the lower path back up to the path near the bench
The Chains option to get to the summit
Route up the chains, this is an option to get up, the holds are easy to climb but take care and concentrate. Alternatively follow the sign to go the longer but less technical route up.
The 3 pines landmark, can be seen from the road
Route marker and just above the chains
Lions head summit (trig beacon and views)
Summit of Lions head with views of Camps Bay, Seapoint, Cape Town CBD and beyond, Table Mountain and Devils Peak. There is space on the summit but can get crowded.
Views from lions head Summit
Views and zoomed views in all directions from the Summit
Views facing South down the ridge
Views south showing the ridge and the cliffs around lions head. View out to camps bay and all the way out to Bos 400 wreck past Sandy Bay
Last ladder before top
Or first ladder on descent, take caution as metal and rocks near the summit are slippery.
Alternate route down turn right
Turn right to skip the chains and go down the more gentle but longer path. This is an alternative option. You can easily do the chains down too.
Agama lizard and views
Found on the corner. Common all over the Cape and less afraid of people on lions head so better for a photo opportunity.
Views from the corner before going down
Views out over camps bay and of table mountain.
Ladder Waypoint to go to Wally's Cave
To go to Wally's Cave you would turn left at the ladder and follow the old trail from the 70's and 80's to the bench
Maxime Yates20 jan. 2023
Ik heb deze route gevolgdBekijk meer
Lions head is a classic, everyone must do this hike at least once. The trail isn't too long or difficult and can be done in a morning or afternoon for sunset. It gets very busy on full moon. There are a few steep sections but it's not too difficult at any point. Wallys cave is really awesome to see. Don't make the mistake of taking too little water and snacks in this hike especially if it is a hot day. Take loads of photos of the awesome view!
Maxime Yates20 jan. 2023
Note the path to Wally's cave gets a bit lost so look out for the markers on the trail
Thomas Missault21 jan. 2023
Ik heb deze route gevolgdBekijk meer
Wally’s cave was very cool, would recommend.
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