The best route to hike up Table Mountain

Wow! What an amazing workout. For a minute, I didn’t think that I was going to make it. But I did. I finally hiked to Table Mountain’s summit – a natural New 7 wonder of the world *(wipes sweat off forehead). It was such an adventure – a must-do activity for any hiking enthusiast.

A tired but relieved photo moment of me resting on the top of Table Mountain. Photo/ Oupa Mollo
A tired but relieved photo moment of me resting at the top of Table Mountain. Photo/ Oupa Mollo
Where to hike from

There are quite a few hiking trails to follow in Table Mountain National Park but not all of them lead to Table Mountain’s summit.  Take a look at the 5 most popular hiking routes, here. Reaching the summit is, of course, the show-stopper off all trails.  Whether you’re hiking up Table Mountain, Lion’s head, Kilimanjaro or wherever else, it’s not really as exciting to hike a path that doesn’t peak or is that just me?

We hiked from Platteklip Gorge, situated to the right of the lower aerial cableway on Tafelberg Road. We drove ahead of the lower cable way entrance to reach a Wendy house where there are public toilets. This is quite close to the entrance of the trail. There’s a big green sign that reads: Platteklip Gorge.

The level of difficulty: Hard. It really depends on your level of fitness and how well you pace yourself.

Distance: More or less 3km. It’s only 1.2km according to Google Maps but please don’t believe that. Google maps also say that it will take 19minutes to reach the summit.  They’ve got jokes.  I reached the summit in just under 2 hours while my boyfriend, who speed walked, reached the summit in just over an hour.

The scenery is spectacular. I regret not taking more photos. Cape Town spoils us (locals) with such beautiful scenery. There’s so much of the city that I have yet to explore.

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The sign indicating the entrance to Platteklip Gorge
A lovely view of Platteklip Gorge as we near Table Mountain's summit. Photo/ Oupa Mollo
A lovely downhill view of Platteklip Gorge as we near Table Mountain’s summit. Photo/ Oupa Mollo
The pathway is quite clear and safe as it's set by rocks - hence the name, 'Platteklip' (flat rock).
The pathway is quite clear and safe as it’s set by rocks – hence the name, ‘Platteklip’ (flat rock).
What to bring

LOTS OF WATER – there aren’t any outlets for drinking water along the hiking trail so it’s essential that you carry water with you. I met the sweetest French nurse along the trail who was carrying a water bladder with a pump in a backpack – it’s such a cool gadget for the serious hiker or even nomad traveller.

Sun protection – this is important.  I missed a few spots when applying sunblock on my back and now I am bearing the brunt. If you’re not super fit, your body will be a bit sore after the long uphill walk and the last thing you want to endure with that is sunburn. Also, ensure that you have a sunhat- unless you’re sporting a thick Afro like I do – then you’re safe.

Activewear – ensure that you are wearing clothing that allows optimal flexibility, as well as shoes with rubber grip soles. You’d think that it would be a silly thing to tell people what type of clothing they should wear on a hike, but it’s actually a reasonable tip. As I was walking uphill, a girl was walking in the opposite direction, wearing a ¾ shirt and Tomy takkies. Maybe she wasn’t planning to hike initially or she’s never hiked before but she was evidentially uncomfortable having to lift her legs knee-high to climb rocks.

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Who to go with

The number one rule of mountain safety for hikers is that you don’t hike alone. The recommended number of hikers per group is four people.  Some people prefer to hike alone because there aren’t many people who match their fitness level, or sometimes it’s just because they enjoy time on their own. However, don’t chance hiking up or down Table Mountain alone as it’s not safe to do so.

Hiking buddies: From left, Oupa Mollo, me, Imraan Toffar, Tshegofatso Matseba, right, Megan Isaacs.
The best time to hike

*(singing) Oh, what a beautiful morning! Oh, what a beautiful day! The best hikes that I have been on were morning hikes – most of them early enough to catch the sunrise and with cool enough weather to avoid sunburn.

You can nearly get away with hiking at any climate season in Cape Town. Mother Nature spoils us with great weather all the time even though our summers are dry and hot, and our winters are cold and wet. Consider checking the weather forecast a few days ahead of your intended hike. Avoid hiking on windy and cloudy days, especially when hiking Table Mountain because it can be dangerous – and if you’re planning to up to  Table Mountain’s summit and take the cable car down, it’s important to note that the cableway is out of service on windy days.

The view from the top of Table Mountain. Photo/ Megan Isaacs
The view from the top of Table Mountain. Photo/ Megan Isaacs
Tips for SA hikers
  • Upon presentation of your student card, All South African students only pay half-price for cable car tickets on Fridays.
  • If you’re a South African citizen and it’s your birthday, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway will offer you a free (return) cable car ticket! How cool are they!

 

I love hiking and would love to explore other hiking trails in Cape Town and surrounds. Have you hiked a scenic spot worth writing about? I’d love to hear from you.

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Author: Robyn