Cape Town is fast becoming a popular holiday destination for families with children. kids Hiking on Table Mountain makes for an adventurous challenge for active young hikers.
On week-ends we often spend a day hiking with our young children (aged 6 & 7) to test out new routes on Table Mountain. So I have come up with a short list of favourite hikes that travellers can include in the itinerary when visiting Cape Town.
In my experience, active kids enjoy short steep hikes of maximum two to three hours rather than long gentle gradient hikes. Kids also enjoy more challenging hikes where scrambling on hands and knees make it a bit more interesting. Whilst us Adults have the stamina to endure longer hikes and sometimes find the scrambling a bit more tricky, but this is where kids overtake and question why parents are ‘taking so long’! Crawling through a cave or climbing up onto a trig beacon or doing a geo-cache (treasure hunt) en route can add to adventurous element.
- Kalk Bay Caves is my childrens favourite hike as you get to crawl all the way through the mountain and hike back down the other side. My youngest was four years old the first time. This walk is not recommended for claustrophics. Its an easy two hour hike ending in Kalk Bay Harbour for fish ‘n chips lunch!
- Elephants Eye Cave in Silvermine Nature Reserve is a short moderate easy two hour hike for young kids aged 3 or 4 upwards. Its named as the mountain resembles a sleeping elephant. Its a short walk from the parking lot up to a Prinseskasteel stream where tadpole catching is a great distraction for little legs. From there hikers continue on a path past the firehut into the Elephants eye cave. Legend has it that a Khoi princess lived in the cave.
- Lions Head is still one of the best value for effort hikes in Cape Town. The two and half hour hike spirals up taking 360 degrees of Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles. You would be surprised how easily your little hikers scramble up the last steep sections to the top to get to the trig beacon! My daughter was 5 years old when we first made the ascent.
- Platteklip Gorge is the most popular route up the mountain as its conveniently situated close to the cableway. Although not the most exciting route up the mountain, it is fairly straight forward – ‘Like climbing stairs for two hours) We start with an easy walk on the contour path before zigzagging up the gorge to a height of 1000 meters. I would recommend this route for children from the age of 5 as long as they have had previous hiking experience.
- India Venster is an exciting, short 2-3 hours and sweet hike up Table Mountain. It is not an easy route but if you have reasonably fit teenagers (from aged 10 years upwards) who have a head for heights, this is definitely the route to go for. Hiking Table Mountain via this route requires you to pull yourself up and over some rocks and boulders with the help of handles and chains. This is a lot of fun but also the reason why India Venster is considered to be a dangerous hike. But the hard work is soon done and you will soon be done in the Cableway to enjoy the rest of the day in Cape Town!
On AWOL Hiking guides are fantastic with children and go the extra mile to ensure that the hiking routes selected are safe and age appropriate for your family. We always take plenty of water and little snacks tasty treats to nibble on the trails to keep our young hikers energised. (see recent tripadvisor review)
Written by Sally Petersen