MUST DO: Hiking Lion’s Head at Sunrise in Cape Town

The summit of Lion’s Head offers a spectacular view of Cape Town, Table Mountain, and the ocean from its height of 669 meters (2195 feet). This combination of scenery makes the view from Lion’s Head even more breathtaking than from Table Mountain itself, which stands at 1085 meters (3560 feet). Climbing Lion’s Head is an essential activity when visiting Cape Town. The hike is relatively easy, and you can reach the top in about one hour. It provides an adventurous experience due to the rugged nature of the trail. Below are our tips to ensure you are well-prepared for climbing Lion’s Head.

#1 Choose the Sunrise

Let’s start with the best tip of all. Sunrise is the perfect time of day to climb Lion’s Head. It is less crowded (mostly one-way traffic), the temperature is cooler, and the low light enhances the beauty of the surroundings. Waking up early may be a challenge, but witnessing the sunrise from Lion’s Head makes it more than worth it. You can find the location for parking or drop-off by Uber here. The timing of sunrise varies each day, so check the sunrise time for your visit and make sure to start the hike approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes earlier. Alternatively, you can choose the sunset, but be aware that it will be hotter and more crowded.

#2 Find Wally’s Cave on Lion’s Head

Wally’s Cave is a well-known Instagram spot where you can take beautiful photos. Finding this small cave can be challenging, so we’ll provide clear directions below.

At the first set of steps, do not climb up the stairs but turn left. Follow the path until you reach a broken bench on your right. From there, walk a bit downhill until you reach a fairly wide path. There are different paths at various heights, so it may take some searching to find the correct one. Eventually, you need to turn the corner and you’ll see Wally’s Cave a little higher up. Refer to the photos below to identify the steps and bench so that you can recognize them. If you end up on a higher path, you won’t reach Wally’s Cave but will still find another beautiful photo spot. The cover photo of this article was taken there.

Update: Wally’s Cave is currently closed due to the creation of multiple paths, which have caused damage to the environment. This damage has made the route unsafe. To allow the natural environment to recover, the route to Wally’s Cave is currently closed. This was also the case when we were there, but we didn’t read the signs carefully enough. We thought it was closed only for safety reasons and were unaware of the nature restoration aspect. So, when you reach the steps, make sure to check the signs and see if the route is still closed. If the route is open again, please let us know so we can update this information.

#3 Wear a Headlamp

When starting the hike, it will still be quite dark. While it quickly becomes lighter, it’s helpful to wear a headlamp for the initial section. Of course, you can also use the flashlight on your phone, but wearing a headlamp allows you to keep your hands free.

#4 Check the Weather Forecast and Dress in Layers

If you plan to see the sunrise, it’s helpful to choose a day with clear morning skies. Many weather apps allow you to check the hourly weather forecast for the upcoming days. Also, check the temperature and wind conditions and bring something warm if needed. Mornings can be quite chilly during the sunrise. Dressing in layers is ideal because you’ll warm up while hiking, and the temperature can rise quickly after sunrise.

#5 Bring Sufficient Water and Snacks

Even though the hike takes only about an hour to reach the top, it’s still a good idea to bring at least 1 liter of water per person and some snacks. We spent a total of 3.5 hours on Lion’s Head, including photo stops, searching for Wally’s Cave, and hiking up and down.

#6 Pay Attention to the Signs Indicating Two Different Routes

Around halfway through the hike, you’ll come across two different route options. The “recommended route” indicated on the signs is relatively easy and takes only an extra 5 minutes. The other route is a bit more challenging, involving climbing a wall of about 7 meters (23 feet) with the aid of chains. Both routes are enjoyable and give you an adventurous feel, as the “recommended route” takes you along a deep cliff edge. The main difference is whether you want/can climb or not.

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Curious about what else we recommend not to miss in Cape Town? Check out our tips for Cape Town for unique activities, excellent restaurants, and exceptional places to stay.