The hike to the Elephant’s Eye Cave is one of Cape Town’s easier walks with rewarding views over False Bay and the Southern Suburbs. Starting in the Silvermine Nature Reserve you will walk through indigenous fynbos and on hot summer days a swim in the Silvermine dam is a welcome relief for tired feet.
The Silvermine Nature Reserve is a vast playground for nature lovers situated between the Tokai Forest and Noordhoek. The area is renowned for mountain biking, rock climbing and many hiking trail with views from False Bay to Hout Bay. The Elephant’s Eye hike is one of the most popular options in the reserve. If you look at the Constantiaberg you will be able to see the cave. Imagine the tall radio mast to be planted on the top of an elephant’s head and you might see how the cave got its name.
To get to Silvermine you will drive up Ou Kaapse Weg. Take a right into the reserve and pay an entrance fee of about R25. Drive to the last parking lot right next to the dam. You will find a sign that leads you onto the path. The fire lookout is a nice detour with a view. From here you will also be able to see the cave. The hike is only moderately strenuous and it should take you about an hour to get to the cave. Elephant’s Eye is a fairly large depression in the rock face. You can climb into the cave and find bright green fern growing from the overhang. Looking out of the cave you will get a view from Muizenberg to Hangklip stretching across the Southern Suburbs. Elephant’s Eye is a nice spot to rest in the shade and have a quick snack.
On weekends the trail can get quite busy so an early start is recommended. When you finish the hike the sun will be at its highest which is an ideal time to put down your bags at the Silvermine Dam and go for a swim. The dam has a few nice picnic spots as well so there is nothing keeping you from relaxing until the afternoon.
Cape Town is a great place to hike. However, the unpredictable weather and the intense African sun call for some preparation. Do these things to make you sure your hikes go smoothly in all conditions:
- Apply sunblock: Sunburn is not only irritating; it is actually dangerous. The good news is that it is easy to prevent. Apply sunblock in regular intervals to all exposed body parts. A sun hat is a good idea as well.
- Pack enough water: Walking in the sun will dehydrate you. Bring enough water and drink enough water.
- Pack a rainproof: The weather in Cape Town is notorious. Even if the day started sunny you might be glad you brought a rain proof or a warm top as you are never completely safe from wind or rain.
- Wear sturdy shoes: Don’t try to hike in your slip slops. You need sure footing and protection from shrub and thorns.
- Get a map: If you are serious about hiking, a map is a good investment. The Slingsby Maps are detailed, intuitive and available at most bookshops for about R100.
Alternative Route to Elephant’s Eye
Hiking to the Elephant’s Eye Cave through Tokai forest provides quite a different experience. Starting from the car park behind the manor house you will serpentine your way through the shady tree. In the early morning birds of prey are often spotted and the car park is a favourite baboon hangout. The hike is quite a head on ascent, but the cool shade from the trees makes things a lot more pleasant.