Table Mountain has got to be one of the most breathtaking natural attractions in Cape Town. It frames the skyline no matter where you are, making its beauty impossible to miss. The mountain boasts a distinctive flat peak resembling a table top, hence its name. There are more than 60 different trails for you inquisitive backpackers to chose from, that will get you to the top. We can see how this could make choosing a route slightly overwhelming. So instead of letting you waste time and energy that could be put to better use exploring the city further, we’ve done the research for you. Here is a list of our personal favourites and three of the most scenic hikes, just for you.
1) Platterklip Gorge (estimated climb time: 2 hours)
Nicknamed “the tourist trail” this is the oldest and easiest route to climb and consequently the busiest, perfect for making friends along the way. Despite being the “easiest” route, do not make the all too common mistake and decide to take on the climb in flip-flops, you’re still looking at around 1,000 meters to climb! This route starts from the lower cableway station at Table Mountain. On clear days this climb will provide you with excellent views of Cape Town’s coastline, city centre and southern suburbs.
2) Skeleton Gorge (estimated climb time: 4 hours)
This is a popular route enjoyed by many, but do be prepared for a fairly long climb! This route starts at the Fragrance Garden, within Kirstenbosch, which is also a lovely place to visit during you time in Cape Town. So if you start off early (which we recommend with all the hikes anyway), you could essentially tick off two of your MUST SEES in Cape Town in one day! This route will lead you through indigenous forest, take you up ladders and leave you scrambling over rocks and boulders – all half the fun and completely worth it. This hike will also take you to Maclear’s Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain and the Cape Peninsula for a spectacular view.
3) India Venster (estimated climb time: 2.5 hours)
This route starts about 50m to the right of the lower cable car station on Table Mountain Road. This path leads you straight to the contour path. This sensational yet more strenuous route follows directly underneath the cable car before skirting around to the back of the mountain. We believe this hike to be the one with the most spectacular views along the way. Be sure to leave early, so you can take your time with the route, and sneak a few photos (good excuse to catch your breath) along the way. This route is for more adventurous hikers aren’t afraid to scramble a fair amount over rocks but don’t let that put you off, it’s not too hectic.
So if the visibility and wind condition is good, get your trainers on and HIKE! You don’t want to miss your chance and wind up with travellers regret. If hiking isn’t your thing then you can always get the cable car up and down (during the summer months we urge you to pre-book your ticket to avoid spending hours in the que!).
Whichever route you decide upon be sure on one very important thing – Do NOT forget your camera as you will certainly be needing it!
Lastly, without sounding like your mom, we would like you fellow backpackers to remember these things:
– NEVER hike alone
– ALWAYS stick to the path
– ALWAYS carry warm clothing (even if it is warm when you start your climb – the weather can change within 20 minutes and is generally quite chilly on the top)
– ALWAYS carry at least a litre of water, snacks, sunscreen and a cellphone with emergency contact numbers
– ALWAYS check the cable car is in operation before your hike (+27(0)214248181)
– ALWAYS remember money so you can buy a cheeky beer on the top whilst enjoying the views