South Africa is on lockdown and we’re all itching to get outdoors again. While nothing can compare with actually being out on one of Cape Town’s magnificent trails, gaping into the shadowy depths of mountain chasms, wandering through ancient forests, or scrambling up rugged cliffs with the sound of trickling water down the mountainside, we can at least experience some of what Cape Town has to offer – right at home!
If you want to plan an experience outdoors or just need a mental break, you have the option to virtually explore the abundant visual realm that is Cape Town thanks to Google Maps.
Here are six hiking trails you can “visit” in and around Cape Town from the safety of your couch.
The Pipe Track
This classic Cape Town trail offers spectacular mountain and vast ocean views. It starts where Kloof Nek Road meets Tafelberg Road and trails a water pipe all the way to Slangolie Ravine. The historical Pipe Track was constructed in 1887 to service the pipe that brought water from Disa Gorge to the Molteno Reservoir in the city. The virtual trail doesn’t lead to the end of the Pipe Track but you can branch-off onto the Kasteelpoort Hiking Trail and head to the Old Cableway Station.
Lion’s Head Hiking Trail
Starting on Signal Hill Drive, below the iconic Lion’s Head, this trail winds its way around the mountain, offering panoramic views of its beautiful surrounds.
Lying on the front face of Table Mountain, Cape Town’s own natural wonder, Platteklip Gorge is the most direct route to the top. Platteklip Gorge, meaning flat rock gorge, heads up a deep ravine. If you do some exploring on the summit, you will experience impressive views of the City Bowl, Atlantic Ocean, Robben Island and more. If you have ever hiked up Platteklip Gorge, you know how busy it can get and will appreciate the silence on this virtual hike.
Chapman’s Peak Hiking Trail
Known locally as Chappies, Chapman’s Peak Drive is arguably one of the most scenic drives in the world. Just above it, the view gets better for those following this Cape Peninsula hiking trail to the mountain’s peak. The virtual trail is rather overcast, so be sure to move towards one of the photo points when you’re done to see the view on a clear day.
Take a leisurely (virtual) stroll in the Cape of Good Hope nature reserve within Table Mountain National Park. The trail starts at the Cape Point parking area and wanders through the park towards Cape of Good Hope. If the distance is too great to cover online, you can choose to branch off towards Dias Beach instead.
Okay, so this is more a walk than a hike but if you’re longing for a stroll on the beach, take a meander along Noordhoek Beach to Slangkop Lighthouse in Kommetjie. As you roam along the coastline, you can experience views of Chapman’s Peak, the Hout Bay Sentinel and the wreck of the steamship Kakapo.
There you have it, some of the Mother City’s most iconic trails. Now that you’ve experienced them from the safety of your lounge, grab a backpack and prepare to experience the real thing once the lockdown is lifted.