Tourism

Fantastic hikes at Cape Point National Park


Cape Point National Park is an incredible place just 70 km from Cape Town. The scenery at Cape Point is truly spectacular; white-sand beaches, rugged cliffs, dramatic drops, bizarre rock formations, fynbos vegetation, etc. The wildlife at the park is quite impressive; ostriches, different antelopes, mongooses, zebras, tortoises, dolphins, and even whales in the season (July to September). It’s one of the must-visit places in Cape Town for nature and outdoors lovers.

Cape Point is a perfect place for a day trip from Cape Town especially if you’re planning to spend some time at the park and do some hiking. You can combine a visit to Cape Point with the Cape Peninsula drive, one of the most scenic drives in Cape Town.

The famous Cape of Good Hope is inside the Cape Point National Park. Many tourists think it’s the southernmost point of Africa. In fact, it’s the most south-western point of the continent. The actual southernmost point of Africa and the meeting point of two oceans is 250 km west at Cape Agulhas.

Stunning view of Cape Point peninsula from one of the hills on the Cape of Good Hope hike
The view of Cape Point from the Cape of Good Hope hiking trail

Hiking is one of the many amazing things to do in Cape Town. The city is a perfect place for outdoor lovers here you can enjoy diving, surfing, kitesurfing, paragliding, mountain biking, and more.

Cape Point National Park

  • Opening time – daily from 8am to 4pm
  • Entrance fee – South Africans (with IDs); adults – ZAR 85/US$5, children – ZAR 40/US$2,5; foreigners ZAR 340/US$22, children ZAR 170/US$11.

Cape Point tours and activities

Renting a car in Cape Town

If you’re not local and don’t have a car in Cape Town the best way to move around especially if you’re planning to visit some attractions located outside the city is to rent a car. To drive around the city you don’t need a big 4×4 car. Depending on how many people you are and what car you want you can rent a car (Kia Picanto, Datsun) from ZAR 200/US$13 per day (if renting for 3 days). Automatic cars are more expensive, prices start at ZAR 300/US$20 per day (if renting for 3 days). The longer you rent a car for the cheaper it gets per day.

Cape Town tours and activities

If you don’t have time to plan your own itinerary for Cape Town you can join a mini-group tour that includes the main city attractions and some adventure activities.

Beautiful day hikes at Cape Point National Park

Even if you’re not planning to do any hiking at Cape Point it’s still worth including this fantastic place in your Cape Town itinerary.

Most of the suggested day hikes we walked as a part of a 2-day hiking route around Cape Point. More details on the Cape of Good Hope hike you can find below.

The Cape of Good Hope hike

  • Distance – 3 km
  • Time – 1h30min.-2 hours
  • Starting/finishing point – car parking lots at Flying Dutch Funicular or at Cape of Good Hope
  • Highlights – Old Lighthouse, Cape Point, Cape of Good Hope, Dias Beach

If you want to choose one hike to do at Cape Point this is definitely the one. It’s an easy short walk mostly on boardwalks along the cliffs with fantastic views. There are a couple of staircases to conquer the Old Lighthouse and down and up to Dias Beach (200 steps).

There is a funicular that runs from the parking lot to the lighthouse. You can buy funicular tickets online to save some time. If you’re lucky in the peak season (August-September) you might spot Southern right whales in the waters around Cape Point. A closer encounter with these beautiful giants you can have during a whale-watching boat tour in Hermanus.

This part is an optional on the first day of the Cape of Good Hope trek after reaching the hut.

Dias Beach and Cape of Good Hope from a lookout point on the hike
Dias Beach and Cape of Good Hope view from the hiking trail

The Shipwreck Circuit

  • Distance – 5 km loop
  • Time – 2 hours – 2h30min.
  • Starting/finishing point – car parking lot at Olifantsbos Beach
  • Highlights – untouched coast, a couple of shipwrecks, sandy beaches, and dunes, rocky pools, fynbos vegetation.

The trail goes through a very quiet part of the park. It’s a great option for those who’ve been to the main attractions at Cape Point and want rather a solitary hike with chances to spot some wildlife. There is no place to buy food or refill water on this route so make sure to bring enough water and snacks with you. As an option, you can shorten the hike and walk to Thomas Tucker shipwreck and back instead of doing a loop.

The Sirkelsvlei Circuit

  • Distance – 6,5 km loop
  • Time – 3 hours – 3h30min.
  • Starting/finishing point – car parking lot at Olifantsbos Beach
  • Highlights – fynbos, bizarre rock formations, diverse wildlife, Sirkelsvlei dam

Another circuit route that starts at Olifantsbos Beach. You don’t get to walk much along the coast but you do have beautiful views of the coast. It’s an inland route with very little shadow in summer it gets very hot it’s better to start walking early in the morning. You can combine this hike with the Shipwreck Trail and walk first half along the coast and then turn inland. In this case the total walking distance will be around 7,5 km.

The Kanonkop trail

  • Distance – 6,5 km return
  • Time – 3 hours – 3h30min.
  • Starting/finishing point – Bufflesfontein Visitor Center car parking
  • Highlights – an old cannon, fantastic views from Kanonkop peak, blue Disas (in summer)

It’s a nice route with an ascent to the peak and a subsequent descent to the coast. The trail offers great views of the coast and the park. Between mid-January and February you can find blue disa orchids along the route. After descending from Kanonkop you can extend your walk to Venus Pool, a beautiful rocky tidal pool. It’ll add about 2,5 km to the hike.

This hike is a part of the first day route of the Cape of Good Hope trek if you walk the inland route.

An old cannon at the top of the mountain on the Kanonkop hike
A cannon on the top of Kanonkop mountain, the highest point of the hike

If you like challenging walks you will enjoy one of the hiking trails up Table Mountain. There are several beautiful routes that go to the top with the breathtaking scenery.

Places to stay near Cape Point

Simon’s Town is situated km from the park offers great accommodation options for different budgets. The beautiful Boulder’s Beach home to a colony of cute African penguins is right there.

Travel insurance for South Africa

It’s always recommended for travelers to have travel insurance especially if you’re planning to do adventure and outdoor activities in a foreign country. World Nomads is a great option for travelers. Their insurance policy is very flexible, you can buy it before or during your trip to cover the entire travel period or only specific days. You can get an instant quote now!

Cape Town books & guidebooks

The Cape of Good Hope – a 2-day trek around Cape Point

The hike at one of the iconic tourist attractions in South Africa is an incredible experience, it’s one of our favorite hikes in Cape Town. We hope our Cape of Good Hope hiking guide will help you to plan the hike.

The total distance of the hike 38,7 km. To complete the route you need 2 days and 1 night. It’s a circular route that starts and ends at the main gate of the Cape Point National Park. You go through the fynbos, over the cliffs, along the beaches most of the trail goes through occasionally visited by day visitors part of the park. This 2-day trek is a perfect weekend getaway from Cape Town for those who enjoy hiking and nature.

Map of Cape Of Good Hope hike. The main route is red color, the alternative - white.
Map of Cape Of Good Hope hike. The main route is red color, the alternative – white.

If you like multi-day hiking trails, like walking along the coast and spotting wildlife on the way you’ll definitely enjoy the Otter Trail, one of the most beautiful treks in South Africa.

Trail overview

  • Distance – 38,7 km loop + 7 km if you walk to the Cape Point from the hut and back
  • Time – 2 days
  • Elevation gain – 1461 m
  • Elevation loss – 1500 m
  • Terrain – footpath, beach, boulders
  • Route marking – yellow footprints

How to book the hike?

You can book it over the phone (021-712-74-71 or 012-428-91-11) or e-mail ([email protected]) Mon-Fri from 8am to 4pm. You can check for available hiking dates over the phone or by e-mail as well. To confirm your booking you have to make a payment for the hut. After that, you’ll receive a confirmation e-mail with a lot of information on the hike.

If you want to do the hike over a weekend especially in summer months it’s highly recommended to make a booking in advance. We booked it two weeks in advance and the closest to the weekend we could get is Friday.

There are 3 overnight huts; Erica (6 people), Protea (12 people, 2 rooms with 6 beds each), and Restio (12 people, 2 rooms with 6 beds each). You can book the entire hut even if you’re only 2 people but you’ll have to pay the full price. Otherwise, you might have to share a hut with other hikers, not from your group.

Note! Currently, due to the COVID restrictions, it’s not allowed to share a hut with other groups, you have to book the entire hut and pay for it regardless of how many people are going to stay at it. It works out much cheaper if you’re a group of 6.

How much does it cost?

  • The cost of the overnight huts – ZAR 358/US$24 per person, ZAR 2151/US$143 for a 6-people hut.
  • Entrance fee to Cape Point Nature Reserve – South Africans – ZAR 85/US$5; foreigners – ZAR 340/US$22, free if you have a Wild Card. Don’t forget to bring your ID to confirm that you’re South African or a resident.
Beautiful view of the ocean and the peninsula at Cape Point
A stunning view of Cape Peninsula at the sunrise from the Cape of Good Hope hiking trail

Accommodation on the trail

Hikers stay at one of the three overnight huts; Protea, Restio, and Erica. Erica can accommodate 6 people, Protea and Restio 12 people (two rooms for 6 people each). The huts are clean and comfortable. We’ve done the hike twice and stayed at Protea and Erica huts. Protea and Restio are situated next to each other, Erica is a bit apart.

Facilities

  • bunk beds with mattresses
  • a hot water shower (gas heater)
  • flushing toilet
  • electricity (solar lightning, no power sockets)
  • a braai place with a braai grid
  • a kitchen with a gas stove, sinks, tables, chairs, pots, plates, cups, and utensils. There are not many cups I’d suggest bringing a plastic cup.
An overnight hut on the Cape of Good Hope hike at Cape Point
Protea overnight hut for 12 people on the Cape of Good Hope hike

How difficult is the hike?

The trail is not very challenging; there are some ascents and descents but nothing hectic. For an unfit person not used to hiking, it might be tough for reasonably fit hikers not. The heat in summer makes the hike more difficult especially if you don’t carry enough water and don’t protect your skin from sunburns. It’s not a hike to do with young children. If your kids are older than 12 and used to hiking they should be fine.

What to pack for the hike?

Hikers stay at fully equipped huts no need to carry any camping or cooking gear unless you’re planning to make food or boil water on the way.

  • A sleeping bag, we had thin summer bags it was quite hot outside but if you do it in winter take a warmer one.
  • A towel and toiletries for the shower.
  • A pillow (you can bring a blow-up one or just use your clothes instead).
  • Flip flops or any comfortable shoes to change into from your hiking shoes.
  • A set of clothes for sleeping.
  • A headlamp or a torch in case you’ll have to hike in the dark.
  • A camera/phone to take photos or videos.
  • A camel pack or a water bottle. In summer make sure to carry 2l of water per person it gets very hot, and there aren’t any places to refill water on the way.
  • Food, it’s up to you how much and what to bring. We had steaks, smash, and cuscus for dinner; instant oats, pastry, and coffee for breakfast; biltong and protein bars for lunch. You’ll need food for two lunches, one dinner, and one breakfast.
  • Coals if you’re planning to braai.
Campbell and Ala at the sunrise on a 2-day hike around Cape Point
Campbell & Alya in the morning on the second day of the Cape of Good Hope hike

Where to park your car?

There is a safe parking lot inside the park at the main gate, all multi-day hikers leave their cars there. It’s free of charge. Though it’s safe don’t leave any valuable stuff in the car.

Note! You can walk the route both ways clockwise or anticlockwise. The main difference is the distance you walk on Day 1 and Day 2. We’ve walked both ways clockwise and counterclockwise.

Walking clockwise vs counterclockwise

It’s possible to walk the trail either way; clockwise or counterclockwise. The official map recommends clockwise. We’ve done the trek twice and walk both ways. Remember, on the first day, you have to check-in at the gate before 9am if you’re late they might not let you go.

Clockwise advantages

  • Your first day is short, only 13 km which is good considering that you’ll probably start walking quite late as you need time to drive to Cape Point first, check-in at the gate, etc.
  • Because the distance is short you’ll have enough time to do an extra loop around Cape Point, go to Dias Beach, the Lighthouse, etc. It’s about 10 km extra. I recommend leaving your backpacks at the hut and taking only valuables with you before you go to Cape Point.

Clockwise disadvantages

  • The second day is quite long, 23 km which means you’ll be done by lunchtime or so.
A beach scenery on the Cape of Good Hope hike
Our group walking on the beach at Cape Point National Park

Cape of Good Hope – a 2-day hiking itinerary

Day 1. Cape Point entrance gate to Erica hut (clockwise)

  • Distance – 15,7 km
  • Walking time – 4 hours
  • Elevation gain – 768 m
  • Elevation loss – 805 m
Elevation of the first day of the 2-day hike at Cape Point
Elevation profile of the first day on the Cape of Good Hope hiking trail at Cape Point

On the first day, you have to register for the hike at the entrance gate before 9am. It’s essential to start your hiking day early especially if you want to do an extra loop and go to Cape of Good Hope and the Lighthouse. Another reason for starting early is the heat if you walk in summer. There is no shade the trail is exposed to the sun.

The first day is my favorite; the trail follows the coast and offers some breathtaking views of Cape of Point and Cape Peninsula.

There is a route split at Kanonkop; the shorter route goes more inland past Bufflesfontein Visitor Center, the longer route goes down to the coast past Da Gama Cross to Buffels Bay beach. Soon after Buffels Bay, both trails merge again. We’ve walked both routes and the coastal one is ore favorite. On a hot day, you can go for a quick dip at one of the tidal pools.

A route map of the first day of the Cape of Good Hope hike
The trail on the first day of the hike at Cape Point. As you can see the entire route goes along the coast

If you have time and energy after arriving at your hut you can leave your stuff there (take only valuables) and walk to Cape Point, the main touristy area of the park. There is a footpath that goes over Da Gama peak down to the parking lot and a restaurant at Cape Point. Once there you can walk (or take Flying Dutch funicular) to the Lighthouse, Cape Point, Dias Beach, Cape of Good Hope and walk back to the hut the same way. It’s about 7-8 kilometers return, you’ll need 2-3 hours for this stretch.

Don’t miss the sunset at the hut you get quite impressive views of Cape Peninsula from the above. On a clear day, you can see the sun going down into the ocean. The views are just as beautiful as on the sunset hike up Lion’s Head.

Day 2. Erica hut to Cape Point entrance gate

  • Distance – 23 km
  • Walking time – 5h30min.
  • Elevation gain – 693 m
  • Elevation loss – 695 m
Elevation profile Day 2 of the Cape of Good Hope hike
Elevation profile of the second day of the Cape of Good Hope hike

It’s better to start hiking early on the second day if you want to be done by lunchtime. The trail on the second day is just as exposed to the sun as on the first day. The first half of the route after descending from the hut is along the coast with occasional walking on the beach. The second half is inland mostly through the fynbos. On this stretch, you have chances to spot leopard tortoises, ostriches, and elands.

A group of hikers on the trail at Cape Point National Park
The scenery on the second day of the Cape of Good Hope hike a Cape Point

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