CapeTownMagazine.com

The Full Moon Hike up Lion's Head in Cape Town

Unwrapping Cape Town with you.
Also engage with our other channels
to find something you don't want to miss.
 
www.capetownmagazine.com/subscribe
CapeTownMag
CapeTownMagazine.com
capetownmag

The Full Moon Hike up Lion's Head in Cape Town

The Mother City is quite beautiful by night, especially over a picnic on Lion’s Head under the full moon

In case you didn't know - Lion's Head is a mountain in Cape Town. At 669 metres above sea level it's just about high enough to see some cool views of Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years), the Atlantic Seaboard and a windy stretch of beach called Blouberg on the other side of the bay. During the 17th century the British tried to call Lion’s Head the Sugar Loaf Mountain. Yes, just like the one in Brazil. The Dutch, however, felt that the mountain's shape resembled a crouching lion and eventually settled on Leeuwen Kop (Lion's Head).


The hour-long climb to the top is a popular Capetonian tradition during full moon, but we decided to dangle ourselves off the side of a cliff for two hours instead. Armed with trusty walking boots, a camera and a backpack containing one solitary bottle of wine (you never know when you might need it) I set off for a hike amongst the Silver Trees with a group of ten friends at 16:00 – giving us ample time to reach the summit before sunset.

As we emerged from our initially strenuous climb through the undergrowth our path levelled out onto an open space lined with indigenous fynbos and aerial views of Sea Point. Our view of the city changed constantly. Directly above Signal Hill we reached a sign for Lion's Head and with the famous peak in the background this provided an ideal photo opportunity. Our path began to climb towards the peak and became rockier. We passed a small cave where a small child had set up camp and refused to budge until I wickedly told him that the bear might be back soon.

'Good God' I thought as my fear of heights set in, ‘should I save myself or my bottle of wine?’

Suddenly, I found myself edging around a narrow ledge with nothing but my flimsy grip on a nearby rock to separate me from the far away forest floor. Although cave child couldn't get up there fast enough I was a little apprehensive as I saw fellow hikers scrambling up steel foot holds like it was no big deal. Using rocks and footholds I pulled myself up onto the first ledge before scaling the side of the mountain by holding onto a chain.

The last section before the summit saw us navigating an exposed ridge via steel ladders and my friend explained, "My life just flashed before my eyes". But by the time I'd climbed a few ladders and placed one tentative toe on a rock I was pleasantly surprised to find that the route was rather secure if approached slowly. As long as I didn't look down it was almost enjoyable. Part of the group carried on along the contour path to a point overlooking Camps Bay which leads to a shorter and easier rock scramble to the summit.

Lion's Head summit was as packed as the V&A Waterfront when hikers toasted the sunset

Crowds of friends sat dangling their feet over the edge of the mountain whilst tucking into picnic food. Aside from the fact that I was impressed with the way I'd scaled Lion's Head the panoramic views of the Mother City and its surrounding coastline were magnificent. We sat sipping a well-deserved glass of red and crunching nachos whilst the sun set over the distant Hottentots Holland mountains to the East in red and gold hues.  

The Mother City was wearing her best black dress and diamond earrings, just for us

Once the sun had set it was starting to get dark so we began our descent and I cautiously shimmied down on my rear end. We stopped briefly at the point overlooking Camps Bay to marvel at shimmering city lights. Many people had head lamps to identify loose rocks underfoot and on our way to back to the gravel jeep track that lead to Kloof Nek we saw fire flies flashing in the darkness – a rare and beautiful sight.

On this occasion there was one fundamental thing missing from our full moon hike. The moon had a prior engagement and decided to hide behind a cloud. The idea was to watch the full moon rising over a picnic and then follow the same path down by the light of the moon. Although I still had a fantastic experience, I did feel sorry for the American guy who lugged a telescope the size of a small planet up the side of the mountain just to look at that elusive moon.

Hiking Lion's Head at full moon is something that you have to do at least once. Whether or not you actually see the moon, the hike to the summit boasts spectacular views and there are routes to suit all levels of fitness. Once at the top the atmosphere is bustling as hikers eagerly await the sunset and the rise of the full moon. If by chance you ever forget it's a great way of reminding yourself why you chose to live in the Mother City.

By Lisa Nevitt

Hiking Lion's Head by day is just as stunning or Table Mountain might be on your list of mountains to scale.

Cape Town Events Calendar
November 2017
SUN MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30

Aces 'n' SpadesFriday Night Live at Aces ‘n’ Spades

They will rock you

Pilsner Urquell on tap at Cafe ExtrablattMonday Madness at Café Extrablatt

The international franchise is here to blow you away with this pizza deal every Monday

The Full Monty - 4Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of The Full Monty with a Local Production

Watch a local cast tackle this British classic

Shakespeare in Love - 12Shakespeare in Love at The Fugard Theatre

Romeo and… Ethel, the Pirate’s Daughter

xperience fashion showKenilworth Racecourse Hosts The 4th Edition of Xperience Fashion Show

Local fashion, by local designers, for local people

Liza Minnelli - 1Life is a Cabaret; A Tribute to Liza Minnelli at the South African College of Music

A fabulous tribute to a fabulous performer

Junior MTB Workshop - 2BreakAway Rides Will Teach Your Kids to Mountain Bike With Confidence

The Junior MTB Skills Workshop Series at BreakAway Rides will turn your kids into champion mountain bikers

La Motte ConcertsClassical Concerts at La Motte Wine Estate

La Motte's culture of excellence reaches far beyond wine-making, by embracing the wonder of classical music

Pierneef food and wine pairing 3Food and Wine Pairing at La Motte

Discover a match made in the divine tasting room of this Franschhoek estate

African Soul Surfer BackpackersYoga and Surf Specials with African Soul Surfer

Ride the wave of surf and yoga camps with African Soul Surfer!

best winter dishes ricks cafe americainRick’s Café Américain’s Weekly Lunch Specials

Pop over to the charming Casablanca-themed restaurant for a hearty meal that won’t break the bank

African Soul Surfer BackpackersSurf Lessons with African Soul Surfer

Learn to surf with the kiffest surf school in Cape Town!

Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag Children's Events Cape TownKids’ Party Special with Battlefield Live SA Laser Tag

Treat your little one to the ultimate military-style birthday bash and save R500

Primal Eatery The Primal Hour at Primal Eatery

Get the best wine, pairings, and cocktails at the Primal Hour

HQ-web-ready-259.jpgFriday Night DJ and Dancing at HQ Restaurant

#AfterDark with DJ Rene: start the weekend with a steak dinner, stylish cocktails and suave tunes by The Frenchman

Villains Ale House Logo 2DJ nights at Villain’s Ale House

Kick start your weekend with DJ nights every Thursday, Friday and Saturday

The Queen and PeasantThe Queen and Peasant Weekend Meet and Greets

Treat yourself to a tasting of fine wines, beers and spirits this weekend

Jack BlackBeers and Bands at Jack Black Brewery and Taproom

Every Friday night the Jack Black stage is lit up with local talent

Om Revolution sunsetOutdoor Yoga Classes with The Om Revolution in Cape Town

Bend, stretch and meditate with this affordable mobile yoga studio in and around our pretty city

Rush glow in the dark dodge ballCosmic Rush at Rush Indoor Trampoline Park

Teens get your blood pumping inside with a glow-in-the-dark indoor trampoline park

Crystal TowersSushi Making Classes at Cape Town Marriott Hotel Crystal Towers

Wow guests at your next dinner party with your sushi making skills

Cloud 9 Boutique Hotel & Spa ReceptionSpa and Sparkling Wine Special at Luxe Laser & Spa in Tamboerskloof

WeatherGiveawaysTravel Tips

Curious to make exciting discoveries in Cape Town every day? "LIKE" us for a daily hidden gem.