December is around the corner and it’s time to relish the breathtaking beauty of the Western Cape. With a blend of mountainous terrains, captivating coastal walks, and gorgeous green landscapes, the Western Cape offers some of the most awe-inspiring hikes in South Africa. Whether you’re a resident or a traveller, here’s a list of the 5 best day hikes to consider this sunny December!
1. Hike Lion’s Head in Cape Town
Positioned between Table Mountain and Signal Hill, Lion’s Head provides panoramic views of the city and the coastline.
The trail circles the mountain and has a series of ladders and chains, making the adventure both fun and challenging.
- Total distance: 5.5km (round trip)
- Hiking Fee: Free
- Total elevation gain: +/- 670m
- Suitable for kids: Above 10 years
- Pet friendly: yes, as long as you have a permit and your dog is on leash.
- Swimming conditions: No
2. Hike Robberg Nature Reserve in Plettenberg Bay
Robberg Nature Reserve is located not far from Plettenberg Bay. This Reserve is a significant South African landmark. Famed for its rich marine and bird life, it offers an extraordinary hike with unparalleled coastal views.
Keep an eye out for the playful seals in the water, and if you’re lucky, you might even spot a few whales and dolphins.
- Distance: Various trails range from 2km to 11km
- Fee: R60/adults, R40/children
- Elevation: 600m
- Child-friendly: Yes, but with supervision on certain challenging parts
- Pets: Not allowed due to it being a protected area
- Swimming: YES! Enjoy the private beach on your 5km mark.
3. Hike Kogelberg Nature Reserve in Betty’s Bay
Located in the heart of the Cape Floral Kingdom, the Kogelberg Nature Reserve trails present a mosaic of fynbos and a chance to spot some endemic bird species. The Palmiet River Trail is a gem with several river crossings and rock pools for a mid-hike swim (please take note that the Palmiet River Trail is extremely popular over December and we would advise that you prebook your permits here to avoid disappointment).
- Total distance: Options between 3km to 24km
- Hiking Fee: R60/Adult, R40/Child
- Total elevation gain: Varies by trail
- Suitable for kids: Select trails
- Pet friendly: No
- Swimming conditions: YES in the Palmiet River
4. Hike Platteklip Gorge in Cape Town
Platteklip Gorge, often referred to as the ‘front door’ to Table Mountain in Cape Town, is one of the most popular and straightforward routes to the summit. The name translates to “Flat Stone Gorge,” which aptly describes the flat rocks that make up a large portion of this hiking trail. As you climb, the expansive views of Cape Town, Robben Island, and the deep blue Atlantic Ocean below are absolutely breathtaking.
The trail can get quite steep, but the reward once you reach the top, with panoramic views across the Cape Peninsula, is unquestionably worth the effort.
- Distance: Approximately 4km one way
- Fee: There is no fee for hiking up, but if you decide to take the Table Mountain Cableway down you will have to purchase a ticket.
- Elevation gain: Approximately 700m
- Child-friendly: Suitable for older children who are accustomed to hiking
- Pets: Yes, with dogs on leashes.
- Swimming: No.
5. Hike Jonkershoek Nature Reserve in Stellenbosch
A paradise for nature enthusiasts, Jonkershoek boasts mountain peaks, lush fynbos, and glistening waterfalls. The Panorama Circuit is particularly mesmerising, wrapping around the mountain with a chance to view the Eerste River waterfall.
- Total distance: Options from 5km to 17km
- Hiking Fee: R50/Adult, R30/Child
- Total elevation gain: Varies based on trail
- Suitable for kids: Yes, with select routes
- Pet friendly: No
- Swimming conditions: YES near waterfalls!
The Western Cape in December is an open invitation to all hiking aficionados. With clear skies, flourishing fynbos, and the cool breeze, every trail promises an unforgettable experience. So, pack your hiking shoes, stay hydrated and step into the embrace of nature. Remember, every hike is more than just a walk, it’s a journey of discovery!
Read about Linda’s recommended Top 5 Hiking Trails in Gauteng here.