Experience Iconic Lions Head Trail Before Maintenance!

Photo Credit: Craig Howes/ Cape Town Tourism

Visitors, locals, tourists and hikers can experience the trails on Lions Head before the trail maintenance takes place from 7 January 2019 to 5 February 2019 as informed by South African National Parks (SANParks). During the maintenance period Signal Hill will remain open to the public as a viewing point.

Successful completion of this much needed intervention on the popular spiral trail up to the summit of Lions Head requires full closure of the trail during the maintenance period. During 2017, a Trail Audit Report for the Lions Head and Signal Hill footpath network was completed. The outcome of the report resulted in recommendations to improve the longevity of the trail, safety of hikers in the area and the environmental protection of Lions Head and Signal Hill.

Since the inception of the report, the Table Mountain National Parks (TMNP) management has formulated a phased approach to implement the recommended actions. Minor work that would pose the least interrupted usage of the trail has been completed and includes closure of unauthorised pathways and desire lines, directional signage erected to guide hikers along the official trails and completion of the assessment for certification of the climbing infrastructure along the trail.

TMNP will now embark on one of the more intensive phases of the project where the condition of the trail will be addressed.

Kindly note that no access will be permitted to hikers or runners via the track entrance along Signal Hill Drive. This includes the restriction on access after sunset and before sunrise. Due to the maintenance in progress SANParks cannot guarantee the safe passage of visitors along the path way and hence the entire trail will be closed.

Now in its fifth year, Ultra-trail Cape Town (UTCT) has established itself as a bucket list race for ultra distance trail runners, not only locally, but now internationally. The event has grown from one with 200 runners in 2014, to 1750 runners across all four of its races in 2018.

With its inclusion in the Ultra-trail World Tour since last year, the event is now attracting some of the top international elite runners and their supporters. Over 300 international entries are confirmed for December, and over 300 further entries are from other parts of South Africa – which is good news for tourism.

The UTCT routes combine a range of beautiful Mother City sights with the rugged technical terrain of Table Mountain. Sports Tourism is certainly gaining momentum in Cape Town, whether it be from visitors attending big events like Two Oceans Marathon, Cape Town Cycle Tour or Ultra-trail Cape Town, or to pursue adventure sports such as surfing, kitesurfing, mountain biking and hiking.

Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, says: “Events such as the Ultra-Trail Cape Town are an essential element to boosting our local economy. They generate employment and contribute to job sustainability, and they also attract new visitors as well as providing added value for locals. Events are part of our reinvention strategy as a tourism organisation; we want to give more people more reasons to visit, so the Ultra-Trail Cape Town is proof that there’s hunger for more to do and see. Visitors attend sport, business and cultural events, and then spend more on tourism activities and in our restaurants, so we value the creation of more of these.”

Specialist tourism operators are emerging that focus on the sports traveller, and Lance Wynn, owner of Cape Town based Runcation, is one such operator who has witnessed the growth of UTCT and other trail running activities in Cape Town. The local trail running community has grown hugely in recent years, and with communication driven by social media channels, weekly runs are arranged by groups such as “Tuesday Trails”, and these groups are being noticed by runners planning their travels to Cape Town.

Runcation ensures that runners are able to see some of what the city has to offer while being confident of getting around and to their events on time: “It helps when athletes are focusing on such a big race to not worry about when to be where and how to get there. We are hosting the runners in at the President Hotel for December’s race, which is where all the elite runners will be staying; so an added bonus is they will get to mingle with the ‘stars’ of international ultra-distance trail running.”

Bornman says these sorts of tours are incredible opportunities to showcase the trail paradise that Cape Town is: “These elite athletes will be spreading the word to the international trail community. With the growth of UTCT and initiatives such as tours for runners, we can anticipate the sport of trail running continuing to support the Cape Town tourism industry in the coming years.”

Read More Articles