Helderberg Dome

Helderberg Dome with Vicky near the top.

By Tom · Published Mar. 9th, 2021 · Updated Nov. 23rd, 2022

This hike from Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West takes you to the top of Helderberg Dome, the highest peak of the mountain range. The hike is along a good path with some sheer drops and spectacular views from the top over False Bay. Helderberg Dome is the highest point in the Helderberg mountain range, near Somerset West.

Rocky ridge before the dome in the Helderberg Mountain range.
The rocky ridge leading to the top with Cape Town in the distance.


This hike starts at the Helderberg Nature Reserve in Somerset West. It is a 45-minute and 50 km drive from the centre of Cape Town. There is an entry fee of R15 per vehicle, R25 per adult and R15 per child. The is ample space for safe parking within the reserve.

Helderberg Dome Hiking Trail Map

Get the route by downloading the .gpx or .kml file below. For navigation with Maps.me on your mobile phone, simply download the .kml file and open to add it to the Maps.me bookmarks.

We left early on a Saturday in February 2020 from Cape Town and started hiking at 8:15 am. This was definitely necessary because it was a very hot summer day. The reserve opens at 7:30 am. I brought my hiking poles for the descent as my knees were hurting from recent other hikes.

Tips for the Helderberg Dome Hike

  • Helderberg Nature Reserve has a very informative website with some trail options. This is one of the hiking trails.
  • Bring a sunhat, sunscreen and plenty of water. It can be very hot in summer.
  • Hiking Poles* are useful on this steep hike.
  • The Oak Cafe in the reserve is a great place for a post-hike drink, snack or lunch.
  • After the hike, a stroll through the gardens of the nearby Vergelegen Wine Estate* is a must-do.

For the first part of the hike, we took one of the many trails on the lower slopes of Helderberg. On the way back we took a different trail down. It does not really matter until you start ascending more. There you should be on a track towards the right-hand side of the mountain.

The lower slopes in Helderberg Nature Reserve, South Africa.
The lower slopes of Helderberg with Somerset West in the distance.

Disa Gorge

After a while, you enter a woody ravine, called Disa Gorge. This is a good shady point for a water break. Not far into the woods, there is a right turn where you cross the stream. On the other side, the path leaves the woods and enters a fynbos area again. Here the real climb starts with a number of switchbacks.

Helderberg Dome in sight on the right hand side.
Helderberg Dome in sight on the right.

Soon the fynbos tins and you climb the rocky outcrop. Here you will have a good view of the end destination, Helderberg Dome. However, the path to the dome is on the left-hand side of the mountain.

South Africa Travel Book

While roaming the back roads and national parks in our ‘trusty’ Defender, I wrote a book about our adventures, check it out on Amazon*.

We climbed misty mountains, camped in empty deserts, sunbathed on tropical beaches, and saw wildlife galore under the hot African sky.

The First Saddle

The path takes you first to the saddle between the peak closest to the start, West Peak, and the rest of the peaks of Helderberg. At the saddle, there is a sign pointing you in the right direction for the dome. The other path goes left to the top of West Peak, which we didn’t take. There is an alternative way back via this peak.

View from the saddle to the east.
View from the saddle to the east.
View from the saddle to the west.
View to the west with Cape Town in the distance.

The saddle is a nice spot for a break, with views of both directions. On the east side, you look out over the vineyards on the slopes of the Helderberg and on the west side, you can see the Cape Flats and Table mountain in the distance.

Helderberg Dome in View

Next, the trail loops around the left-hand side of a minor peak and takes you to a second saddle. This involves a very minor amount of scrambling, nothing serious. At this saddle, we were awed by the impressive rocky south face of the Dome of Helderberg mountain, which is just in front of you.

View from the top to the north.
View from the top to the north.

From this saddle, we climbed to a rocky ridge. Finally, this ridge takes you to the top of Helderberg Dome. Here we had a nice long break, enjoying the views. We had a food break in the shade of a nice overhang just below the peak and then started the long way down.

Why not find more of these hikes nearby on our South Africa Page, like the hike up Simonsberg at Tokara Winery.

Panorama on top of Helderberg Dome.
Nice views all around.

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