Lions Head is one of the major tourist attractions in Cape Town and was recently named by National Geographic as one of the top twenty walks in the world (visit National Geographic page). This has resulted in increased volumes of walkers leading to more litter, path erosion and increased risk of fire.

Please keep the following in mind:Eric miller lh 2people

  • Take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints. Don't pick, break or trample any plants or flowers, or remove seeds, rocks or plants
  • Don't feed, touch or harm any of the animals or birds in the Park
  • Wild fires can cause loss of life and property. Fires are not allowed on Lions Head or Signal Hill.  Do not throw cigarette butts anywhere
  • A simple rule is whatever you take with you should be taken back with you
  • Fruit peels do not belong on the mountain and can take up to two years to biodegrade.  This also applies to egg shells, tea bags and all other objects that do not naturally occur in wilderness areas
  • Take a small plastic shopping bag with you for litter and place this in the big bin at the bottom of the footpath

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Access

Access to Lions Head is from the Signal Hill Road.  To get to the foot of Lions's Head from Cape Town city centre, you have to drive up towards Table Mountain via Kloofnek road.  Take the Lion's Head / Signal Hill turn off and park your car at the parking opposite the hut at the foot of Lion's Head.  The trail starts a few metres from there.  

If you do not have a car, the Myciti bus from the city (106 & 107) stops at the top of Kloof Nek road. Cross Kloofnek road at the pedestrian crossing, turn right at the intersection and from there it is a short walk to the parking area.  The Myciti bus schedule can be accessed from the Myciti home page

 

 

 

 

 

Routes / difficultymountain 0469 WB


Distance: About 2km one-way
Time: 1hr - 1hr 30mins up
Rating: Easy with some minor rock scrambling
Children: Yes but may require help at the staples/chains
Dogs: Are not recommended.
Water: None available along this route
 
There are two routes to the top both starting at the base from the jeep track. One is more direct and has a steep section with staples and chains to assist the hiker.  The other slightly longer route goes around and over the "rump" to join the more direct route at the base of a stand of pine trees.  The recommended route is the longer route and there is a SanParks sign just after the fallen pine tree on the footpath.  The walk up is roughly one and half hours and is not especially challenging, however there are areas that are quite steep and require rock scrambling.
 

For a route map and detailed history of Lions Head you can access Gateway guides.

 

 

Eric miller 1 of 9Full moon walks

Walking up Lion’s head during the full moon, you will experience the best of both worlds with the sun setting over the sea and the moon rising over the mountains.  Even if it is warm enough for shorts and a t-shirt during the walk up, it is advised that you take something warm to wear for when the temperature drops after sunset. Things you will need for the full moon hike include: a headlamp or torch, warm jersey, comfortable hiking shoes, camera, backpack with food and drinks, and friends to enjoy the adventure with!
 
Due to the popularity of the full moon walks you may need to queue at certain points (e.g. the staples or the ladders).  Please be patient and make new friends while you wait.  Also remember alcohol, darkness and the initial steep descent can be a very dangerous combination. There have been several accidents on Lions Head, at least one of them fatal.

History of Lions Head

The first people to set eyes on Lion’s Head and more than likely climb its summit, were the Stone Age people who had made the Cape Peninsula their home, followed by the San and later the Khoi-Khoi, who were around more than 2000 years before the first Europeans.

The first written records began with the coming of the Europeans. Bartholomeu Dias recorded seeing Table Mountain, including Lion’s Head, in 1488.  We do not know who the first European man to climb Lion’s Head was, but it is recorded that in 1682 the wife of Ryklof van Goens (the Governor General of the Dutch East Indies) climbed it with Simon van der Stel, Governor of the Cape. To commemorate the event a two-metre-high brick pyramid was erected, but this has long since disappeared.

In the true spirit of colonisation, Lion’s Head would be claimed, named, mapped, probed, dug into and built upon. The first to leave their mark were the Portuguese; instead of erecting their traditional stone cross on the summit, they hacked a large cross-shaped fissure into a rockface near the summit. This cross can still be seen today, but most believe it is natural and the story is but a legend.  

What’s in a name? Disregarding any local name given to these places, the English, on 3 July 1620, supplied their own names for Lion’s Head and Signal Hill.  The background to this naming is quite interesting: it was part of a show of pretence to keep the Dutch from thinking they could occupy Table Bay without the English putting up some form of resistance.  Two high-ranking English naval officers, Humphrey Fitzherbert and Andrew Shillinge, issued a proclamation annexing Table Bay in the name of King James I, and stating “... and for a memorial hereafter we have made a heap of stones on a hill lying west-south-west from the road in the said bay, and call it by the name ‘King James His Mount’ “.Thus Lion’s Head was briefly known as “King James Mount” while Signal Hill was named “Ye Sugar Loaf”. The annexation by the English was never confirmed and the Dutch subsequently took control of Table Bay and the Cape, providing the names “Leeuwen Kop” (Lion’s Head) and “Leeuwen Staart” (Lion’s Tail), which later became Signal Hill.

Excerpt from Gateway Guides

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