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Unique Winter Hikes in Cape Town

While Cape Town’s cold, wet winters have been known to put a damper on the well-laid plans of locals, the rainfall brings fresh life to our mountains with streams and waterfalls. This makes winter the perfect time to explore hiking trails around the city. You can hit the trails anytime at a leisurely pace, provided you’re always hiking in the safety group, packed for all weather conditions with ample snacks and water, as well as the necessary emergency numbers. 

Here are a few hiking trails to explore this winter: 

Cecilia Waterfall Hike

Desperately longing to bust out of isolation and be wowed by nature? A moderate hike of 4.7 km over approx. 2.5 hours, the path to Cecilia Waterfall should do the trick. Set off onto this hike from the Cecilia Forest car park, or from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The path is easy to follow and rewards passersby with shady trees, ferns and bright green undergrowth. The path may be slippery at times after the rain, but that’s also when the waterfall is at its most brilliant. Be sure to wear good trail shoes and witness the wonder!

Farmer’s Cliffs Trail

This easy-to-follow 8km (one way) hike starts at Smitswinkel Viewpoint parking area and ends at Buffels Bay beach in Cape Point Nature Reserve.  The path heads up Judas Peak, then Die Boer before winding its way around the slopes of Paulsberg and climbing Kanonkop (there’s actually a canon atop the hill). The trail will take you down to the sea at Booi se Skerm Once you pass the old lime kiln on the tarred road you’ll reach Bordjiesdrif’s tidal pool and picnic area. To reach Buffel’s Bay Beach with tidal pool and ablution block, you’ll have to do a bit of boulder hopping (spotting Diaz and Da Gama monuments along the way).

Leave the dogs and young children at home for this trail and be sure to bring your camera for these breathtaking coastal views. If you’re going in a group and would like to shorten the hike; park a car at Buffels Bay and take another car to the Smitswinkel Viewpoint starting point. 

For the latest Cape Point Nature Reserve Entry Fees visit:

Kirstenbosch Yellowood Trail

Escape into the Kirstenbosch forests filled with large yellowood trees bearing glossy, narrow leaves. This 3km trail starts and ends at the Fragrance Garden taking approximately 1.5 hours and is steep in places. Walking clockwise it follows Smuts Track, beside Skeleton Stream (which runs most of the year), as far as Skeleton Waterfall on the 300 m contour path, and crosses Nursery Stream twice on the return path. After the rain, the river is flowing strongly and the waterfall running over a granite rock is at its most pristine.  

The #WinterWonders special is back at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden for the winter school holidays! All youth 17 years and younger get FREE entry to Kirstenbosch until 18 July 2021.

Deer Park Loop, Table Mountain National Park

Deer Park Loop is a 4.7 km moderately trafficked loop trail (elevation gain 197m) in Deer Park nature reserve (forming part of Table Mountain National Park) which is perfect for families and dogs. Enjoy beautiful wild flowers and fynbos along this trail which is great for hiking, walking, running and mountain biking all year-round. 

All the sweet city views on one side and Table Mountain flanking the other. During the rainy season, the rivers and streams begin to show up and spill over beautifully.  There are bathroom facilities, designated picnic areas and and wooden paths to explore plus pockets of rich heritage including the marble grave of muslim spiritual leader Sayed Abdul Haq close to a stream (one of a few graves in the area).

Hiking Safety Information:

When hiking in and around Cape Town, always hike in groups and inform someone of your location and estimated time of return. When hiking into Table Mountain National Park keep these emergency numbers on hand: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700. 

Sign up for the safety tracking service (WhatsApp-based) of SafetyMountain Tracking by The Hikers Network that tracks hikers and other mountain users (runners, cyclists, etc) on their adventures – giving them instant access to assistance in case of an emergency (injury, sudden illness, rockfall, getting lost, crime). This free safety tracking service allows you to notify local trackers of your contact details, intended route and travel time via Whatsapp, you are then able to provide hourly updates on your progress, and to notify trackers when you are safely off the mountain. 

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