Standing at nearly 1,100 meters and providing incredible views of Cape Town, Table Mountain is one of the most amazing hikes that the world has to offer. This mountain used to be an island and its unique topography offers more plant species per square mile than many tropical rainforests. This makes it the perfect place for a leisurely hike, a moment of solitude, or the perfect adventure with your hiking team.
Here are just a few ways that you can enjoy a fantastic experience at this World Heritage Site.
How To Prepare For the Hike
There are 5 popular hiking routes that can be taken to the flat top summit of Table Mountain. It is important for all hikers to stay on the trails that are provided. Even though the trails are well marked and several guides are available for hire, more people lose their lives on this mountain than they do on Mount Everest every year. A hiking party of 4 is recommended by the national park service.
You’ll also want to follow these basic rules of safety.
#1. Always bring a charged cellular phone with you. Inform someone outside of your hiking party which trail you plan to take.
#2. Take waterproof clothing because the weather can change instantly, even in the hot mid-summer months.
#3. Don’t wander into the ravines that are off of the trail map. These are particularly hazardous because of loose materials.
#4. Take enough supplies for at least 2-3 days in case there is a weather emergency or an injury that requires you to stay on the mountain.
There are also certain security measures that you’ll want to take as you prepare for the hike. It is a national park that is open to the public, so take common sense measures such as packing away any cash or valuable equipment, such as your camera. Have emergency numbers programmed into the phone.
Which Trail Is Right For You?
The easiest trail to a summit of 669m is the Lion Head’s Walk. You’ll get to see the front face of Table Mountain, Devil’s Peak, and a 360 degree view of the surrounding Cape Town area. The hike itself is relatively easy and only takes about 90 minutes. The total round trip distance is about 4km. It is a local tradition to hike this trail during a full moon, so there may be times when this trail is quite busy.
For more of a challenge, the Pipe Track Trail follows below the 12 Apostles along a pipeline service route that was built to deliver water to Cape Town more than a century ago. This trail is also quite popular with local hiking enthusiasts has several areas where navigating over fallen stone may be necessary. The mid-afternoon sun hits this trail hard, so pack extra water for the 12km round trip trail. Dogs are allowed on this trail.
The Platteklip trail is the most direct route to the upper summit of Table Mountain. It’s also the most popular route and it provides some unique challenges. Starting from Tafelberg Road, you’ll ascend the main gorge that divides the front face of the mountain. Anti-erosion elements have been installed, but the trail is very steep. When cold or windy, this trail may only be for advanced hikers. It takes 1-3 hours to reach the summit and is not suitable for young children.
Beacon’s Walk is for those who want to achieve the true summit of Table Mountain. It begins at the Upper Cableway Station that can be used to descend the mountain. It’s an added 45 minute hike and is rated as easy, but don’t walk this trail if there are clouds or mist on the mountain. Even though the path is marked with yellow footprints, it can be easy to become disorientated. There are also sections where chains and poles will need to be used.
The Smuts Track is the coolest way to ascend Table Mountain thanks to is Afromontane forest. Shade is available almost the entire way to the summit. Once you reach Skeleton Gorge on this trail, however, the climb is very steep and it doesn’t relent. Don’t underestimate the effort it takes to navigate stony steps and a wooden ladder. One-way for most people will take 3-4 hours.
There are 895+ additional routes up the mountain that are also available, but these generally require a guide to help navigate.
Going Down Is More Difficult Than Going Up
If you’re planning a round trip on one of the trails at Table Mountain, it is important to remember that going down this mountain is more difficult than going up. This is especially true when there is inclement weather. Make use of the cable car at the summit to reach an easier trail if the climb up was more difficult than expected. In return, you’ll receive an amazing 5 minute ride that will give you some one-of-a-kind photographic opportunities.
The longest round trip trail on Table Mountain takes about 9 hours to complete. Plan on leaving early if you plan on an all-day hike to avoid heavy trail traffic and the worst of the heat in the late afternoon.
Where To Stay In Cape Town
The 2Inn1 Kensington offers visitors the chance to stay on the lower slops of Table Mountain, allowing for easy access to the hiking trails. The gray walls while white shutters has an almost Greek feeling to it. Enjoy the gardens of the lower slopes, the amenities you’d expect from any hotel [including a pool], and views of the mountain you plan to hike. Coffee and boutique shops are within walking distance.
Abbey Manor offers a similar experience that is just 2 minutes away from Cape Town’s city centre. A heated swimming pool and a rooftop terrace offer a chance to relax after a tough hike on Table Mountain. If the evening is cool, enjoy the fireplace in your guest house.
Cottages are also available for rent at various rest camps and wash houses that are located on Table Mountain and managed by the park service. Space here is extremely limited, so reserve in advance if you plan to spend more than one day exploring these amazing trails.
Table Mountain charges tariffs to all visitors that are 12 years or older. Children’s rates apply to kids as young as 2. Foreign visitors are charged R180 [S$18.60] per day, with the children’s rate at R90 [S$9.30] per day. Prices are subject to change.
Reservation rates for rooms on Table Mountain begin at R465 [S$48] for a 4 person tent and can be as much as R3600 [S$372] for a guest house.
Table Mountain offers numerous ravines, challenging environments, and breathtaking summits that can be enjoyed in your own unique way. You will not be disappointed by what Table Mountain has to offer. That’s a guarantee.
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