Deep asleep the alarm woke me up at 8am. We wanted to set off fairly early for our day of hiking.
Enjoying yoghurt and granola in our hotel room in front of Table Mountain we gained the fuel we needed to set off.
Our journey began turning up the steep road next to the Hilton Hotel. Here the houses lining the cobblestone road are rainbow coloured.
This suburb named the Bo Kaap region is the oldest area in Cape Town – built in the 1780s by early Muslim settlers. The inhabitants were brought over by the Dutch as slaves in the 16th and 17th century. A lot of South African culture stems from this area.
Panting we made it to the top of the vibrant road. This was just the beginning. We planned to summit Signal Hill and Lions Head. However, first we needed to find the correct path leading to them.
For a little while longer, we walked along suburban roads. Large blocks of flats with fragile looking windows towered above us.
We knew we needed to go upwards so when faced with a choice of directions took the steeper road. After a while the road ran out so we found an offbeat path, and trying our luck we ventured up.
On mounting the top we found the path we needed – result. We were headed in the right direction. This was confirmed by having a quick check of Google maps (which works offline, provided you download the section of the map you need when you have WiFi).
The path was arid, we ventured through yellow grassland, with several trees lining the way. The views were wonderful. To our right rugged mountains jutted out into the sky. Table Mountain with its notorious flat top dominated the skyline. In the valley a littering of settlements glistened in the sunlight. Red brick roofs huddled together, while skyscrapers stood tall. Turquoise swimming pools were spotted all over town. The Atlantic Ocean sat to our left spanning miles.
After some time we could see a road and tourist busses pulling up. It was the summit of Signal Hill. We leapt up the last leg of our incline.
On mounting, we took a minute under a tree in the shade catching our breath. I wiped the sweat off my forehead with the back of my sleeve. A South African family strolled by, also admiring the views. It was a popular spot. Groups were participating in para-gliding, a sport which is not for the faint-hearted. Guides ran alongside participants and steered them high into the sky before leading them swiftly down to the shoreline. We peacefully watched the adrenaline junkies, happy to be stood on firm ground.
Keen to take on our next conquest – Lion’s Head summit, we moved on. Its peak was visible in the far distance, being 669m we had a long way to climb.
The path from Signal Hill to the start point of Lion’s Head was a little confusing, there were lots of paths you could take. We went in generally the right direction and when unsure took the road. Shortly after, we reached the start point. The hill began immediately.
The first section of path was the easiest – a well trodden dusty orange path. Next came rocky zig zags, also fairly easy to navigate. We could see people on a ridge high above us. Not once did we see anyone right on the top so assumed the path would just take us as high as possible. Shrubs carpeted the mountain sides. Looking down we could see a yellow path engraved into the landscape. The one we took from Signal Hill. A grey flat road meandered around the mountains.
Our trail became rockier the higher we reached. Stepping one foot in front of the other, I used all my strength to haul myself up large boulders.
At some points we were rewarded with ladders and chains to aid our climb. They were very much needed.
Tactically ensuring we always had three points of contact on the cliff we were able to safely ascend.
I was trying not to think about getting down after, for now we just wanted to reach the end of the trail. This turned out to be the top of the mountain. The view was certainly worth the climb. I could see Cape Town’s Bay to my left. Its semicircle of sand contrasted the dark blue sea. Industrial shipping containers formed white rectangles while mountain ranges stood out on our right.
Before allowing ourselves to get tired we descended the way we had come up, being extra careful not to slip. At times it was best to sit down and pull ourselves over the boulders using our arms.
Walking down we realised just how high and far we had come.
A few hours later after retracing our steps we found a way to reach Sea Point beach. On arrival we bought extra cold water and downed it, before sitting on the beach.
The waves had a lot more energy than we did as they crashed against the rocks we were perched on. Birds swooped into the sea.
After cooling down we walked from Sea Point to our hotel in just over an hour. We walked down Ocean View Drive for quite some time. This street was clearly for the wealthy. Huge mansions lined the road, all of which had at least 5 security cameras and electrical wire around them to prevent any unsavoury characters. We smelt barbecues cooking and spied home owners relaxing on one of their many terraces.
By the time we reached our hotel our legs felt like jelly. We collapsed in our room and had showers before venturing out for dinner.
Opposite our hotel was Marco’s African Restaurant serving local food. Sitting down the decor was beautiful. Traditional art hung on the walls. Tucking into a lamb stew with beans and potatoes we listened to musicians play the xylophone.
Totally satisfied from dinner and having walked 10 miles we slept soundly.