Beginner Sport Crag Access

With so many pockets of climbing paradise tucked away in South Africa, it’d be a crime not to explore the stunning rock on our doorstep. To make outdoor climbing more accessible to beginners, we’ve put together this guide to the most popular crags in the mother cities.

With so many pockets of climbing paradise tucked away in South Africa, it’d be a crime not to explore the stunning rock on our doorstep. While gym climbing has become a sport in its own right, the fact remains that the majority of people who start their climbing journey indoors aspire to crush on real rock. To make outdoor climbing more accessible to beginners, we’ve put together this guide to the most popular crags in the mother cities.

Of course, there are plenty of excellent spots not included in this article; we’ve selected those that are most conveniently accessed with a good range of grades to give the best first-time experience. Many of these crags are open-access, meaning that these areas are not gated off and the public is free to enjoy the space. However, activity permits may be required for rock climbing (you can find details for these below). As always, make sure to respect your fellow adventurers and the environment by adhering to crag etiquette – you can find a detailed guide of all the essentials here

Gauteng Crags Cape Crags

Gauteng Crags

While there is great climbing just outside of Gauteng in the Magaliesberg and further afield in Waterval Boven, there are also a few gems closer to home… 

Kings Kloof

Based at Rocky Valley Christian Camp and Retreat Centre in Krugersdorp, Chancliff district, this beginner crag boasts two sections up- and downstream of the river. The routes range from easy to moderate, with a few multi-pitch sport lines; this is also a great spot for introducing newbies to rock and teaching outdoor leading. Perfect for the winters, too.

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Access: Open 7am to 5pm, Monday to Sunday. Bookings are required; email or Whatsapp +27 72 159 9091. On arrival at the gate, the guard will check for your booking and ask each person to sign the indemnity book. Entry is R30 per person (cash only; make sure you have the correct amount as no change is available).

No dogs are permitted. Climbers are allowed to use the picnic area for lunch, along with the bathrooms at the campsite. No fires, alcohol or loud music is permitted. Camping is reserved for camps only. 

Parking: From the entry gate, continue (slowly) down to the bridge. Go over the bridge and parking is immediately on the right as you come over the bridge to the field. Park near the climbing sign. 


Crime: The parking and the crag are generally considered safe with no reported issues. 

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Strubens Valley

Strubens is a small classic crag on the West Rand, just past Clearwater Mall in the Strubens Valley suburb. The crag has three sections – upper, lower and far right with very short climbs. An ideal spot for beginners and those looking for an easy mid-week session. 

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Access: The City of Johannesburg has opened land on the hillside above the suburb. Bolting and climbing permission was organised through the Mountain Club of South Africa (MCSA), but no permits are required to go and climb. As this is public open land, please respect the wild vegetation. No fires are permitted, and you are asked to please carry all rubbish out with you.

Parking: Park at the open area as per the location pin; it is situated on Witwatersrand Road in the Strubens Valley area. The community has recently installed a fence and gate to try and keep the area safe. The gate may be locked if regulations require parks to close. Douglas has been appointed by the MCSA JHB as a carguard on weekends. He charges R25 a car and has a panic button linked to the local security company. 

Approach: It’s a 5-minute uphill walk to the crag along a clear path. 

Crime: The car park has had some issues with break-ins and car theft. The MCSA has stationed a car guard there on weekends. The crag is open, with some people living in the cave at the upper section. It is best not to take valuables with you; try to go in a group and be vigilant. 

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Northcliff Hill

Northcliff offers short trad climbs with top-rope bolts. A good winter crag, and a great place to teach beginners trad while on the safety of a top rope. Helmets are recommended as many joggers and picnickers utilize the top of the ridge and could knock (sometimes even throw) things down the cliff face to the climbing area. 

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Access: Access is granted through the Northcliff Ridge eco ridge. Entry is free and no permits are required. This is City Parks land, please follow their rules. Dogs are allowed on leash; as a bonus, there are great views of the city from the water tower ridge. 

Parking: Park at the designated Northcliff Ridge parking below the water tower. The parking lot is not considered secure, so it’s advised to not leave valuables in your vehicle.

Approach: Walk in along the paved path, almost to the end, and scramble down the descent gully following hikers’ paths to get to the bottom of the climbing face. 

Crime: No recent issues, but as it is open land, please be vigilant and don’t leave any valuables in your car. 

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This stunning weekend-warrior crag is on the banks of the Bronkhorstspruit river. In summer it is best to go early and climb before the sun moves over; in winter it is better to go a little later and avoid the early morning chill. There are a good variety of climbing grades, from easy to hard. 

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Access: The crag and parking is private property and the owner’s right of admission is reserved. The MCSA has come to an agreement for access to this area for its members. Entrance fees are as follows: R40 for adults, R20 for school-going children above 12 years old, R10 for children 12 years of age and below. Please pay the entrance fee and sign the visitors’ book upon entrance. Reduce disturbance to animals, particularly the Black Eagles and other nesting birds. Absolutely no climbing and/or bolting may take place near the Black Eagle nesting site. No overnight camping – climbers are only permitted during daylight hours. Dogs are allowed.

Parking: Follow the tar road past the main house until a fork to the right with a MCSA parking sign. Follow this right fork onto the dirt road onto the cleared parking area

Approach: Access to the crag from the parking area is very easy – 5 to 10 minutes. Follow the well-walked foot path out of the parking area that leads you down the easy-access, right-hand side of the climbing face with the river below.

Crime: No recent issues, but as it is open land please be vigilant and don’t leave any valuables in your car. 

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Western Cape – Cape Town Crags

The Western Cape offers a wonderful range of sport climbing suitable for all skill levels. Cape climbing areas closest to the city (i.e. those mentioned below) fall within the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) and are managed by SANParks.

As mentioned above, many of these areas are free to access by the public, but you will need a permit to climb at the crag. For Cape climbing areas that require a fee to access, you can pay an entry fee at the gate, or obtain a Wild Card or My Green Card. To partake in rock climbing, you can purchase an annual Activity Permit or join the Mountain Club of South Africa to get an MCSA card. Rangers are not always present at the crags, but if they are then they will ask for your permit; if you cannot present this, you are liable to be fined.

Green Card

Green Card
You can purchase a Wild Card online here, and find out additional information here. You can also sign-up for the MCSA online at this link, and you can collect your card from the Hatfield office once your payment has been received. To purchase a My Green Card or an Activity Permit, you will need to visit the Tokai Plantation Office on Tokai Road. This office is open Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 15:45; note that the office is closed for lunch from 12:30 to 13:00.

Higgovale Quarry

A secluded pocket of surprisingly good granite climbing tucked away behind the mansions of Higgovale, this is the perfect spot for beginners and an excellent crag for quick weekday sessions. The crag boasts a good range of sport routes, from easy introductory/warm-up climbs to the notorious ANC (21). The crag layout makes it easy to walk/scramble to the top of the climbs, allowing for easy instruction in leading, cleaning, anchor building and mountain rescue skills.

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Access: This crag is an open-access climbing area (yay!). The gate simply requires a scramble or squeeze through, described below. An Activity Card or MCSA card is needed to climb.

Directions: Drive from Tamboerskloof in the City Bowl, up along Molteno Road towards the base of Table Mountain. Drive almost to the top, and turn right into Glencoe Avenue. Drive to the end and park before the boom in the cul-de-sac. Be considerate by avoiding parking in the way of the fire hydrant or disrupting the entrance gates of any of the residents

Parking: The prime parking location is the cul-de-sac at 50 Glencoe Avenue. An alternative cul-de-sac parking is 7 Glencoe Road, which provides slightly less space and is a little further away from the crag. 

Approach: From the cul-de-sac at the end of Glencoe Avenue, take a little dirt road turning left– this leads you to a gate. This gate is always locked. In order to access it, you will need to do an easy scramble on the right over a little shoulder. Once over the shoulder scramble, you will have on your right the Peanut Gallery, with the Polling Booth being the large, flat wall at the end. The wall on the left as you enter over the shoulder scramble is the Cinema sector.

Crime: The area has had a reputation for muggings in the past, but this has significantly subsided since the residents implemented security measures, such as a guard hut by the cul-de-sac. Please be aware of your surroundings when visiting.

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Silvermine Crags

These crags (all eight of them) are some of the most popular climbing spots in the city. This is thanks to the variety, accessibility and expansive views over the Peninsula. 

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Access: Silvermine requires you to pay for entry, either by paying the daily Conservation Fee (R35 for adult SA citizens) or by presenting your Wild Card or My Green Card. You are also required to have an activity permit for climbing; you can either pay R90 for a day permit, or present your Activity Permit or MCSA card. Note that the gate accepts cash only.

Directions: Drive up Ou Kaapse Weg coming from the M3. Once up the pass, turn into the northern Silvermine Nature reserve entrance and continue through the gate either with your Wild Card or a day pass. Continue north along a tarred road all the way to the upper parking area near the reservoir to access the crags from the Blaze of Glory, Main Crag, Silverminor and Fawlty Towers walls. 300m before the reservoir on your right you will see a lower parking area from which you’ll reach Jailhouse, Cloud Nine Wall, Lower Crag and Pumphouse.


Lower Crags 

Starting at the lower car park, walk east crossing the boom, and follow the path on the far side of the gravel road. Follow this single track and keep right at the fork to continue along a rounded corner path going left; this will take you to the ridge. Scramble over some big burnt tree trunks and down some short rock steps. Follow along the base heading north (parallel to the ridge line) along the rock bands. You will find the following crags, in order: the Jailhouse, Cloud Nine Wall, Lower Silvermine Crag (the most popular thanks to the great variety of grades), then 8-Mile Ledge and lastly, after a small scramble, the Pumphouse

Upper Crags

Park at the Silvermine Dam and, from the middle of the main area facing east (towards the ridge line), take the path marked “To the Crags”. Follow this single-file walking path until you reach a dirt track, then continue left (northerly direction). Pick up the path on the other side of the dirt track towards the top of the ridge where the track continues parallel. From the high point of the ridge, you will see a cairn on your right and a gap in some logs; this path then drops down the ridge. To get to Blaze of Glory, follow the first path going down steeply on your right. The next path, which has a big drop down (watch your step), takes you to Main Crag. For Silverminor, scramble down another short path from the middle of Main Crag. Should you plan to climb at Fawlty Towers, the uppermost crag, you will need to take the jeep track along your left; do not turn up right up towards the ridge. Keep left on the jeep track until you can clearly look down to the dam, and find a footpath which leads around to the following ridge line.

Crime: Because the crags are based in the nature reserve, crime is limited (yet not eliminated). Be aware of baboons who want to eat your food, and try to head out in a group. 

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The Mine

This close-by crag is famous for steep, powerful routes that smash you with the pump factor in the best way, along with a gorgeous and gargantuan roof of smooth sandstone. It boasts a few Cape classics, including Sickle Moon (22) and Swan Lake (25). There are just a handful of routes below grade 20, so this isn’t the best spot if you are still getting your strength developed; however, this is an excellent crag for outdoor beginners who are pushing grades in the gym.

The path isn’t too long or too steep, making for a walk-in that gets you warm without wearing you out. Plus, sheltered weather conditions and expansive views make this a great crag for climbers, belayers and cheerleaders. 

View Route Guide

Access: The crag is open-access, but requires the usual Activity Permit or MCSA card for climbing. 

Directions: From the M3, turn off towards Ou Kaapse Weg. As you get within about 100m of the traffic lights, take a left turn. Continue to your parking lot of choice (parking directions below).

Parking: The lower parking road is on the SAS Silvermine road, and the upper parking is just after Ou Kaapse Weg right hand bend as you get up to the pass (on your left before the Silvermine Nature reserve).

Approach: From the lower side, follow the dirt-track parallel to the road all the way up to the cave-like area. From the upper parking lot, follow a faint foot path heading towards the Southern Suburbs ocean (great views) until you reach a dirt track. This will take you down towards the Mine via another small, fairly clear path.

Crime: There have been car break-ins here in the past, but should you leave nothing visible in the car and lock it there is a low risk of a break-in. As always, rather leave your valuables at home and stay vigilant. 

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Lakeside Pinnacle

This city-side gem is great for beginner climbers thanks to its good grade range and ease of access. For the stronger climbers in your group, Undercling (19) and Magic Potion (21) are classics to be ticked!

View Route Guide

Access: The crag is open-access, but requires the usual Activity Permit or MCSA card for climbing. 

Directions: From the M3, turn off left towards Muizenberg to get to the Main Road. Turn right onto Boyes Drive, past the Toad on the Road on your right – a superb spot for a post-climb pint. You will find the parking on your left after about 2km.

Parking: Park on your left side, shortly after the first long bend after the Toad.

Approach: Be aware of the oncoming traffic around bend – people fly down that road. Once you have crossed, you will see a yellow sandstone step-type ledge; start up this way and follow the well-marked path until you reach the base.

Crime: There have been few  incident reports at this crag as vehicles remian in sight. As always (say it with us…) avoid leaving valuables in your car and stay away of your surroundings. 

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This page will be updated should there be any changes to regulations and access protocols

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