How to climb Lion’s Head
No trip to Cape Town could be complete without a climb up Lion’s Head. Cape Town is full of incredible scenery with Lion’s Head and Table Mountain creating a dramatic backdrop for the city. Climbing Lion’s Head is one of the best ways to get views over Cape Town, and offers even better views than Table Mountain. From Lion’s Head you’ll get views down to Clifton, Camps Bay and Sea Point and the 12 Apostles all the way over to Green Point and City Bowl beneath Table Mountain. Best of all, you won’t need a guide to climb Lion’s Head – just yourself and a good pair of shoes.
Climbing Lion’s Head is also a good alternative if you are up for a hike, but don’t want to spend the whole day hiking Table Mountain. It also gives much better views than Table Mountain, since from Table Mountain you won’t be able to see the beaches like you can from Lion’s Head, which instead offers 360 degree views.
If you plan to climb Lion’s Head, definitely plan to set out in the early morning before the heat of the day has set in, as it can get very hot up there during midday. The climb up Lion’s Head winds around it like a screw until you reach the top. Lion’s Head is a 669m (2,195ft) climb, and take about 2 hours to complete. You can easily reach the start of the hike by taking an Uber there, or if you have your own car just simply park your car at the base of Lions Head and start your climb from there. You can reach Lion’s Head by car via Kloofnek Road, driving toward Camps Bay.
I only realized after climbing Lion’s Head that there are TWO ways to go up. One is the “easy way,” which I probably should have done, and one is the “do at your own risk” way. If you take the “easy” way, the climb is really easy and takes no technical skills. Before you reach the ladders and chains, you should see a sign that indicates that you can either keep going forward, or take the route to the left. If you are a bit nervous about climbing on the hand grips, I’d do this.
Lion’s Head can get really busy with people going up and down, and frankly, it made me pretty nervous with so many people climbing up those things at once… I was imagining someone slipping off the whole time. If you go the “easy” way, I’ve heard this will only add 5 minutes more on to your hike – so if you are a bit older, with kids, or maybe just aren’t up for the ladders and hand grips, take the easy way!
Climb Lion’s Head: The check list
Before you climb Lion’s Head be sure to bring the essentials:
- Water! As usual, don’t forget to bring water before you set out on your climb
- Sunblock: Maybe I burn easily, but I was generously applying sunblock the entire way up under that hot Cape Town sun
- Pocket money: You’ll need to pay a parking attendant to watch your car, so be sure to bring along a bit of cash
- Snacks: I always get hungry from hiking, and love a good lunch view at the top of a mountain. Be sure to bring some snacks along to enjoy at the view from the top.
Looking for more hikes in South Africa? Don’t miss these posts:
Did this post help you plan your climb up Lion’s Head? Let me know in the comments below!
Gabby is a native (Northern) Californian who spent the majority of her 20’s living the expat life in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, exploring Europe and beyond. 27 countries later, she’s relocated back to her home base in California where she explores her passions for the travel and the outdoors.