Elephant’s Eye Cave Hike

Elephant’s Eye Cave is located in the Silvermine Nature Reserve, Table Mountain National Park. We had been interested in this hike before we even had children and after the high of successfully hiking Lion’s Head as a family of five, we decided this would have to be the next feather in our family’s hiking cap.

The hike is a relatively easy, six kilometer round trip with a 200m total elevation gain. The route map states that it is a three hour hike, but anyone with a moderate fitness level should be able to complete it in a bit less than that. We didn’t take many breaks, but enjoyed a nice little lunch in the cave and returned back at around the 2.5 hour mark.

Ready to set off. We were still trying to explain that there is no actual Elephant’s Eye in or anywhere around the cave.

As usual we started the hike quite early. Getting the majority of your hike done before the harshest Sun hours is always advisable. Emma took about 3 minutes before the first request for a break. We shrugged this off and after a little motivation she was happy to solider on.

The hike starts with a gently rising path that takes you up to the first ridge. It’s a pretty walk and the views are great. Once you get to the ridge you walk across a plateau of sorts, through some trees and across a small stream. It was at this stage that we realised that Emma was still going strong and hadn’t even asked for another break. In-fact, she just kept going so we decided to not take make any stops while the going was good.

It was at this stage that we realised that Emma was still going strong and hadn’t even asked for a break. In-fact, she just kept going…

You will spend much of this hike wondering which dark patch on the mountain is the cave. We were fortunate enough to see quite a few other hikers and trail runners that day which, apart from making us feel safe, proved to be useful ‘beacons’ in the distance. After walking down off the small plateau you begin another gently rising tail up towards the ridge which is located below the cave. The walking is almost always easy, and when you do get to steeper parts it is well stepped.

By now we couldn’t believe that Emma still didn’t need a rest, the boys were happy in their carriers and the weather was beautiful. Things were going well! Hiking with kids is easy! More on how that all changed a bit later. As you get up to this ridge you take a left turn up a steeper trail with several switchback turns. This meanders up to the cave which, when you see it kind of takes your breath away.

Upon arrival at the cave, after the inevitable disappointment in kids faces when they saw no actual elephants or elephant’s eyes. I should mention here that it called the Elephant’s Eye cave because the mountain bears resemblance to an elephant’s head and the cave is located where the eye would be. We then settled down to enjoy our picnic. We shared the cave with a few other groups but there is enough space to go around. The view from this location is superb and it’s the ideal spot for all those ‘Insta-worthy’ silhouette shots that all the cool kids post these days.

The view from this location is superb and it’s the ideal spot for all those ‘Insta-worthy’ silhouette shots that all the cool kids post these days.

The cave got cold quickly because of the shade and a sharp breeze. The kids were starting to get grumpier as it was now their usual nap time. We packed up and set off for the return stretch of the hike. It started off well enough, but about 7 meters later Emma tripped and scuffed her knee on a bit of loose gravel. Well, the world might as well have ended, or at the very least we should have shot a up a flare for an urgent medevac! As the wounded patient sent torturous lamentations through the surrounding hills, we tried to assure her that in fact, the scratch on her knee would actually be OK and that she has been very brave and tough so far. Once the situation settled down we moved on again. Note to self: Pack a first aid kit with plenty of Elsa plasters!

The walk back was hot, and Emma was a bit over it by then end, but we returned back to the car feeling proud of our second hike since little Seth was born. At this point we realised that having three kids certainly didn’t spell the end of our hiking and outdoor adventures – all we needed to do was adapt the way we did it, and make the most out of every situation. Now all we had to do was think of the next hiking destination… And boy did we choose a tough one!

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