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Signal Hill

Table Mountain (left), Lion's Head (middle) & Signal Hill (right)  © Damien du Toit, License

Signal Hill

Signal Hill derives it's name from the days when a semaphore (communication) post on the side of the hill was used to send signals to ships in the harbour. Today, the hill is famous for the noon day gun - a canon that has been fired everyday except Sunday, since 1902. The firing of the noon day gun is carried out with military precision by the South African Astronomical Observatory who take such things quite seriously. An electric cartridge is loaded into the cannon which is then triggered remotely by the Observatory's master clock. Note that the noon day gun is not located at the top of Signal Hill, but rather a short distance down the side of the hill at Lion's Battery.

Signal Hill is also referred to as Lion's Rump due to it's position relative to Lion's Head. At 300m the hill affords an good view across the City Bowl and Table Bay. If you're unable to take the Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain, then Signal Hill is the next best thing.

Visiting the hill at night allows one to see the city lights and also provides an excellent vantage point from which to admire the floodlights that light up the side of Table Mountain in summer. But be warned that Signal Hill is not considered to be a safe place to visit at night.

5 Interesting facts about Signal Hill in Cape Town:

1. Historical Signal Station: Signal Hill gets its name from its historical use as a signaling station. Flags were used to communicate weather warnings and messages to ships in Table Bay. This practice dates back to the early days of Cape Town's development as a major port.

2. Noon Gun Tradition: Signal Hill is home to the famous Noon Gun, a historic cannon that has been fired at noon every day (except Sundays and public holidays) since 1806. The tradition continues today and is a popular tourist attraction, with visitors gathering to witness the daily firing.

3. Panoramic Views: The hill offers breathtaking panoramic views of Cape Town, the Atlantic Ocean, Table Mountain, and Robben Island. It's a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike to watch the sunset and take in the city's stunning scenery.

4. Lion's Rump: Signal Hill is sometimes referred to as Lion's Rump, as it forms part of the dramatic backdrop to Cape Town, along with Lion's Head and Table Mountain. This trio of natural landmarks creates a distinctive skyline that is iconic to the city.

5. Recreational Activities: Signal Hill is a popular destination for outdoor activities, including hiking, paragliding, and picnicking. The scenic drives and walking trails make it an accessible spot for enjoying Cape Town's natural beauty and outdoor lifestyle.

DIRECTIONS:

  • from the city head up Kloof Nek towards Camps Bay.
  • at the crest turn right into Signal Hill Rd.
  • follow this road for about 3 km until you reach the end.

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