lions head, lion's head, cape town, hiking, south africa, wally's cave, table mountain

Lion’s Head: two alternative routes to try

It’s a strange compulsion we Capetonians have – this need to conquer Lion’s Head. Not once. Not twice. But as many times as we possibly can.

At the crack of dawn. As dusk settles over the city. By the light of the full moon.

There’s a mountain in the middle of the city and we shall climb it. We shall climb it till our feet would follow the path even if our eyes were blindfolded. And we shall Instagram every attempt and share our pics on Facebook too.

I guess it says a lot about our need to reconnect with nature, but when you’re battling crowds just to get a view… it kind of defeats the purpose.

So, how about taking a route less travelled next time?

Here are two I can highly recommend:


Wally’s Cave

lions head, lion's head, cape town, hiking, south africa, wally's cave, table mountain

I first found out about Wally’s Cave when I stumbled upon a picture of it on Instagram. The mouth of the cave formed a crinkle-cut frame through which Table Mountain peeked over her shoulder, winking invitingly.

This strange view so intrigued me that I simply had to see it for myself. I rallied the troops… and then realised that I actually had no idea how to get there.

Nothing a quick Google search couldn’t fix, though, as a blog post by Mike Eloff with clear and concise directions popped up immediately.

So, we set out at the boom the very next Wednesday afternoon and followed the usual, well-worn path – past the paragliding launch pad, up the large stone stairs and onwards to the first ladder.

However, instead of climbing it as we normally would, we took a rather obscure little path just to its left, not letting a bit of barbed wire put us off.

lions head, lion's head, cape town, hiking, south africa, wally's cave, table mountain

Although it looked a little dodgy to start off, the path unfolded beautifully up ahead. We followed Mike’s instructions closely and knew we were still on the right track when we came across an old, broken bench.

From here it was relative plain-sailing, keeping to the lower path, but not taking the split in the road that would lead us back down the mountain. We rounded large rock face and… voila!

There it was – just a little way above our heads – Wally’s Cave! We scrambled up and spent a good half-an-hour admiring the view, taking photos and snapping selfies. And then headed back the same way we came.

If you’re looking for a quick adventure, I’d definitely recommend this route! It takes less than an hour up and down, doesn’t really draw a crowd and provides a cool alternative view of Table Mountain.

The steep stairs

lions head, lion's head, cape town, hiking, south africa, wally's cave, table mountain

Now, I’m not sure what the real name of this route is, but it’s steep and there are stairs, thus I’ll just refer to it as the ‘steep stairs’ path.

For this hike you will also start at the boom close to the parking lot on the Signal Hill road, however keep an eye out for a slightly overgrown path to your right, consisting of – you guessed it – rustic wooden stairs. If you reach the paragliding launch site, you’ve gone too far.

As I’ve already mentioned, this route is extremely steep and requires some serious stamina… also a measure of climbing fitness.

It will take you right up to an old concrete block on top of a large boulder, where the Eastern fire lookout apparently used to be located. From here the route starts evening out somewhat and deposits you on the very same path we followed to Wally’s Cave, close to the broken bench.

Once you’ve connected to this path, you can obviously decide whether you want to turn left and visit the cave, turn right and make your way up to the summit… or, even better, do both!

Because it’s quite a taxing climb, this route may take you a little longer than the main route, but it will give you a totally different perspective, which is always good.

For both routes, I would strongly recommend going in a group of at least three, but preferably four or more. Since they’re quieter than the main circular path, safety in numbers is important.


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