From the top of Lion’s Head

Our group of scientists, finally at the top (Pic: Heather Whitehorn)

Our group of scientists, finally at the top (Pic: Heather Whitehorn)

My lab is hosting a student from the University of Bristol so one of the other students decided it would be nice to have a lab outing. This Tuesday a group of us set off to climb Lion’s Head, one of the mountains around Cape Town.

The hike did not go quite as expected. We set off with 10 people but three decided that they wouldn’t be able to make it to the top and had to turn back early. The climb started off steep but as we circled around the peak it became easier. The ease of the slope was offset by the fact that we were then fully exposed to the sun and it was about 30 degrees with no shade. Once we came around to the other side again, things were far more pleasant. It was at that point that the path became more rocky and at one point we had to climb with the aid of a chain and grips bolted into the rock. That was just after a sign saying “Use at own risk.” There was a longer, “recommend” path to the top but we only used that on our descent. After that it remained rocky, with a few ladders to help, until the peak where we were glad to get some rest and enjoy the amazing views of the city.

Somewhere down there are our cars!

Somewhere down there are our cars!


Our UK guest enjoying the sunset. (Pic: Heather Whitehorn)

Our UK guest enjoying the sunset.

It was a bit unsettling to think that as tired and hungry as we were that we would still have to climb down again. The whole excursion had taken a lot longer than planned. The hike to the summit is supposed to take an hour but we had taken two, plus another half hour to rest and take pictures. We began wending our wearing ways down, although we did pause after just a short way to watch the sun set. It took us about another hour and a bit to get down, at which time we could barely see where we were going. Thankfully, at that point we had reached the path and weren’t still scrambling over rocks next to a sheer drop. At the bottom we decided to forego the planned trip for frozen yoghurt and instead head home for supper, though I’m sure we will all agree that the day was well-worth the effort.

A view of Cape Town from Lion's Head

A view of Cape Town from Lion’s Head


Lion’s Head, like Rondebosch Common, is home to endangered fynbos which is found nowhere else in the world. The different kinds are barely found anywhere else in Cape Town, which now surrounds Lion’s Head. As you can see in the picture to the right, it’s quite spread out. It’s home to around 3,5 million people but is mostly flat. The tallest building, the Metlife Centre, only has 28 storeys. I’ve written Cape Town before over here, if you want to hear about some of it’s good qualities.

Sunset through a fence on the mountain. Probably my favourite picture of the day. (Pic: Heather Whitehorn)

Sunset through a fence on the mountain. Probably my favourite picture of the day. (Pic: Heather Whitehorn)

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