Hiking to Elephant’s Eye

For Moments of Joy. Follow our social channels
for useful news, daily local champions
+27(0)72 350 2062
Ideas Cartel - 113 Loop Street

Hiking to Elephant’s Eye

Your questions answered: permits, dogs, kids, hiking trails and swimming spots

The easiest route to Elephant’s Eye Cave is from Silvermine Nature Reserve, giving you the advantage of climbing most of the height by car up Ou Kaapse Weg. Alternatively, start your hike from Tokai Arboretum. It's a slightly more difficult route but still easy enough for the kids to enjoy.

We pay the conservation fee (R35 per adult and R15 per child) at the Silvermine main gate and drive a few kilometres to the reserve car park (also the only bathroom facility on the hike). The good signage (throughout the whole hike) points us in the right direction.

Image: Cami Skerritt



The name is derived from the fact that this mountain looks like the shape of an elephant’s head, and the cave is perfectly located where the eye would be. This leisurely hike brings us past indigenous fynbos. We even get to see the king proteas bloom - a joy for the eyes and easy on your feet. The hike’s inclines are very minor, and an unfit person could do this route too. Even my 12-weeks-old Italian greyhound puppy enjoyed the hike.

Image: Desmond Louw

Silvermine was made part of Table Mountain National Park on 1 May 1998, thereby ensuring its unique and diverse natural offering will be protected. Silvermine offers spectacular scenery, an abundance of fynbos, and a popular spot for all sorts of activities, including hiking, caving, rock-climbing, and mountain biking.


  • Money. There’s a small conservation fee which you can pay at each entrance. Both fees for each entrance are R35 per adult and R15 per child. 

  • WILD or MY GREEN Cards. If you have a WILD Card or a MY GREEN you can enter for free. If you would like one you can purchase them online via

  • Picnic. Fill your backpack with goodies and water for a memorable picnic with a view of the cave itself.

  • Garbage bag. There are only dustbins at the car park, keep it tidy and leave no trace.

  • Hiking shoes. To keep it safe, wear hiking boots that give your feet a stronghold. There’s a bit of semi-climbing and a few steep paths so you’ll need shoes with a good grip.

  • Hats and sunblock. There are patches of shade for you to rest in but the majority of the walk is exposed. It’s a good idea to get an early start to avoid the midday sun.

  • Camera. The views are incredible and the flowers definitely worth a shot.

  • Swimsuit. After your hike, you can have a picnic and a swim in Silvermine dam. 

  • Children of all ages.

  • Dogs are allowed but you will need a level 1 My Activity Permit. You can purchase your permit at the Tokai Plantation Office on Tokai Road, Tokai. It’s open between Mondays to Fridays 08:00-15:45. 

  • Numbers. Take these numbers up with you just in case and use them for your planning. Call the emergency number if you get lost or injured 086 110 6417 or 27 (21) 937-0300.


Tokai Lookout and Elephant's Eye

Tokai Lookout and Elephant's Eye are found on the slopes of Constantiaberg and offer excellent views of the Cape Flats and False Bay. These can be accessed from the car park at the Silvermine reserve. The reserve setting, surrounded by pine trees reflected in the water's surface, is a nice place to start and end with a picnic and swim.

Image: Desmond Louw

This is an easy hike; most of the walk is along the gravel road, making the going a lot more relaxed. You will find incredible viewpoints en route, views as if you were in a helicopter; some call them 'the most photogenic views in all of the Western Cape'. 

You will pass clusters of pine trees, the Prinzkasteel Stream and a fire lookout stone hut for the foresters, but don't have your picnic here; Elephant's Eye cave is too close. From the fire lookout, you can see the cave, literally a big hole in the side of the mountain.

Image: Desmond Louw

Your reward for the hike is definitely this stop. The roof of the cave is partly covered in green ferns. It's mystical. From here, you can view the dark green forests and vineyards of Tokai and Constantia. Time to unpack your picnic and enjoy the spectacular views.

Duration: Two hours (or longer), including a picnic at Elephant's Eye cave.
Conservation fee: You will need to pay as you enter Silvermine at gate 1. Per day it’s R35 per adult and R 15 per child. Remember to bring some form of identification. 

Image: Cami Skerritt

Tokai Arboretum

Take the M3 towards Tokai, take the Tokai Road off-ramp, and turn right under the M3 bridge. Follow Tokai Road all the way to the end, passing the Tokai Forest picnic area, and turning left to the Arboretum when you reach the T-junction at the Manor House. Sign in at the thatched gate. The path is clearly marked with signs bearing an elephant. This is quite a long climb up to Elephant's Eye, but it makes it a more challenging hike when you start at Tokai Arboretum

Duration: It is a comfortable two-hour walk up to the cave, so plan 4.5 hours at least including a lovely picnic at the cave.
Conservation fee: You can pay when you sign in at the thatched gate. The conservation fee is R35 per adult and R15 per child. Additionally, you can pay R25 per vehicle. 



Fauna: Grysbok, lynx, baboon, porcupine, genet and tortoise have been recorded. You may also spot a variety of reptiles, insects and amphibians. Birds often seen in Silvermine are the Orange Breasted and Malachite Sunbirds, Cape Sugarbirds, Rock Kestrels, Kites, Buzzards and Peregrine Falcons. The majestic Black Eagle is also seen here occasionally. 

Image: Desmond Louw

Flora: Silvermine is located within the magnificent Cape Floral Kingdom, the smallest but most diverse of the six floral kingdoms in the world, with an enormous variety of plant species. Many of these plants are rare and endangered, and some are found nowhere else in the world. 

Fynbos is the most dominant vegetation type. Almost 900 species have been recorded, with many Proteas, Ericas, and Restios occurring to date. The protea family's remarkable specimens include: Mimetes hirtus, or bottlebrush, which is endemic, Protea nitida or Waboom, Protea cynaroides or King Protea, Leucospernum concocarpodendron or Kreupelhout. Depending on the season you will see parts of the mountainside coloured by the many Erica species.

by Antonia Heil 

Silvermine: right off Ou Kaapse Weg coming from Cape Town | Open Mon-Sun 08:00-19:00 |+27 (0)21 780 9002 



Spend the day hiking at Jonkershoek Nature Reserve.

Take a roadtrip to one of these 10 must-try camping spots.

Hike to a magical waterfall in Cecilia Forest.

Stretch your legs and find more hiking trails in Cape Town.

Get the full low down of swimming in Silvermine dam

Go tree-hugging in Tokai Arboretum.


Use our events section for an up-to-date overview of what’s happening in the city, ‘burbs and dorpies. Join our newsletter and get quick access on the go by adding us to your mobile home screen for the ultimate guide to discoveries in Cape Town.

Follow and like us on TwitterFacebookLinkedInInstagramPinterest for updates. 

Cape Town Events Calendar
October 2022
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 31

Elvis BrewElvis Blue’s “lekka” padstal on ...

Elvis Brew in George has the closest viewing deck for large aircraft in SA

Sweet River Brewery ingredientsBook out this distillery for your next ...

Make your own at Distillers Union + get beer and pizza at Sweet River Brewery

HintHunt escape planGet over the midweek hump with a ...

Launch a torpedo, escape prison, solve a murder – all in your lunch hour

Taj Jiva SpaJiva Spa Special: 3 massages x 30 mins ...

Select 3 treatments from 7 options, from head massage to deluxe pedicure

Bombay BrasserieBombay Brasserie offers sumptuous ...

Taste 7 unique dishes (+ a surprise) at Taj Cape Town’s signature eatery

Blue Train ParkKids Party Idea: Take a ride on the ...

BOOK Now and let the outdoor adventure begin!

scootours-teambuilding-cape-town Ride Monster wheels in the Winelands ...

Scootours' Flow Trail is an adrenaline rush with berms, rollers, and a bush tunnel

Breathwork Africa foundation3+ ways to get your breath back and ...

Classes, courses, retreats on conscious breathing run by the trainers leading the global ...

The Blue Room interiorLive jazz at The Blue Room

Dine, drink cocktails while top local muzos jam at this moody new bar

Taj kids bedHere’s an unbeatable deal: Kids stay ...

You’ll get 2 interleading rooms, 1 harbour + canal cruise and royal treatment

Oasis Association Claremont coffee shopDo Good

3 ways to support Oasis: shop, donate or take your recycling there

Leopard's Leap FamilyLeopards Leap serves succulent ...

Family-style lunches are its speciality, plus there’s a big lawn for kids to play on

White Shark Cage Diving - BoatSpectacular rates on shark-cage diving ...

Where conservation meets adventure. FREE Buff + ask for current CapeTownMag specials

Ficks CocktailsFicks: the best sundowner pinchos bar ...

Pair wine, cocktails and mocktails with pinchos and a spectacular sea view

La Motte Tasting RoomVirtual and on-site wine tastings at ...

Or do this specialised La Motte wine-tasting virtually

Klein Roosboom tasting caveTaste wine in a cave

Boutique winery with 6 six cosy tasting nooks. Plus platters, picnics + trails

Irma Stern Museum artHere’s what’s on at the Irma Stern ...

Celebrate 50 years with art workshops, walkabouts and discussions

Canto Wines champagne + macarons tasting3 unusual pairings at this Durbanville ...

From MCC to tonic tastings: there’s something at Canto for the whole family

GiveawaysTravel Tips