Updated: Apr 6, 2020
Next to Table Mountain there's another famous mountain called Lion's Head, which has beautiful views over Cape Town for sunrise and sunset, but I can't actually attest to that as I never made it up there - haha! George set an early alarm our first morning in Cape Town to run up (he's mad!). We were then going to do the hike together on our last morning, but the wind speeds were so high neither of us thought it was a very good idea. So for a firsthand experience of Lion's Head, I'll pass you over to George who has written this post...
On the 10th October the sunrise was 06.10 in Cape Town. I had read that the climb is around one hour, starting from the car park, but I always find these guides to be a bit conservative. My plan was to run from the hotel to the summit which Google maps had told me was 5km (3km hotel to car park, 2km car park to summit). With all that in mind, my alarm was set for 5am. 10 minutes to get ready, 15 minutes run to the base, then 45 minutes for the climb with photos along the way. The climb corkscrews around the peak so you get great views of all the coast.
After reaching the car park, my head torch was a necessity. Although the first part of the climb is is a wide hard-packed path that an SUV could drive up, it is pitch-black at this time and tripping is still a risk! As the path loops around overlooking Camps Bay, it starts to become increasingly rocky as the city comes back into view.
The panorama photo was taken at 05.55, 15 minutes before sunrise, where I thought I might end up late to the party - I was cutting it pretty fine! Somewhere around this point, there is an option of two routes to the top. I took the more challenging route called ‘the staples’, named after the metal rungs which stick out from the vertical rock face (there is only about 5 rungs to tackle at a time). At this point, there was enough light that the head torch was no longer required which made the final ascent a lot easier, as there was more scrambling required than I had imagined.
To reach the summit, there is one more ladder to climb plus some tall, rocky steps which will get your heart going if you’re not already out-of-breath by this point.
I reached the summit nearly bang-on 06.10, but because of the small layer of cloud on the horizon, the sun eventually popped-out at 06.25 so I had some time to relax with the 20-or-so other people up there before capturing some photos.
After around 15 minutes up top, I started to make my way down in the bright sunlight. However, the initial descent is actually quite tricky (I don’t think humans were designed to go down steep areas without a bit of scooting on their bums). I encountered a few people still climbing while I was heading down, and there is an unwritten rule of two-up-two-down when you reach a bottleneck at the staples.
Lion's Head is definitely worth getting up early for, but check the weather forecast as it definitely wouldn't be pleasant in poor conditions!