Hiking Table Mountain
The route up Lion’s Head with Table Mountain in the background covered by the famous table cloth.
Hiking Table Mountain is an unforgettable experience that should be on every local’s and visitor’s Cape Town to do list. This iconic landmark is situated in the heart of the city and offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding areas and ocean. The mountain can be accessed from several points and there are various routes up, which makes hiking with a guide highly recommended, especially for those who are new to the area, travellers or those unfamiliar with the terrain or hiking in general.
Choosing a route depends on what you want to experience and see, your fitness level and how long and strenuous you wish the hike to be. Our travel experts and guides can help you decide which will be the best hike for you.
Our knowledgeable guides will not only show you the best hiking routes and viewpoints, but will also provide valuable insights into the mountain’s history, geology, and ecology. In addition, they will ensure that you stay safe and comfortable throughout the hike by monitoring the weather conditions, guiding you through any tricky sections, and providing essential equipment if needed, as well as a tasty coffee & tea snack stop along the way.
There are several hiking routes to choose from, each with its own unique features and levels of difficulty. Some of the our popular routes include Platteklip Gorge, Kloof Corner, Skeleton Gorge, Kasteelpoort, India Venster, Llandudno Ravine, Lion’s Head & Kloof Corner. Whether you’re an experienced hiker looking for a challenge or a beginner seeking a more relaxed hike, there is a route to suit your needs.
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We operate on various hiking routes up Table Mountain and they range in difficulty, terrain, views, habitat and the ease of the path to follow. Some routes have easy to follow paths and a reasonable incline, while others involve minimal scrambling, wooden ladders or steel rungs bolted into rocks. There are various levels of exposure to heights ( narrow ledges with steep drops ) and if you desire some special hikes can be planned over more rugged routes with more scrambling.
Routes are graded to help you understand the technical difficulty of the route. The grade does not indicate length, physical exertion or exposure to heights. Times are an estimate.
Platteklip Gorge hiking trail is the oldest and most popular route to reach the iconic table area of Table Mountain, and it allows the option to hike up and then ride the Table Mountain Cable Car down or vice verse. Platteklip Gorge consists of a giant rock “staircase” that zigzags its way to the top of of the mountain. This is a challenging and strenuous hike due to the rapid ascent, but it offers breathtaking views of the mountain, ocean and city below. The climb takes between 2 – 3 hours for the average person and is worth the effort to reach the top. During the hike you will enjoy views of Cape Town, including Devil’s Peak, and Lion’s Head.
Time: 2 -3 Hours
Difficulty: Strenuous Uphill
Distance: 2.9 Km ( To Cable Station )
Elevation: 699 m
Terrain: Well Marked Stepped Rocky Path
The Skeleton Gorge route takes you through lush forest, up steep climbs, wooden ladders and over rocky terrain. It includes a stunning waterfall, panoramic views of the city and coastline and culminates in a beach and lake at the top of Table Mountain. The trail is well-marked and offers plenty of opportunities to stop and catch your breath along the way. The hike is not for the faint-hearted and requires a moderate level of fitness, but the stunning vistas and lush forest make it well worth the effort. The hikes starts from the famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and winds its way through the forest to the top of the mountain.
Time: 4-5 Hours
Distance: 5 Km
Elevation: 611 m
Terrain: Well marked trail through the forest and includes stone and wooden steps, wooden ladders, boardwalks, steep sections and small scrambles.
The Kasteelspoort hike starts from the Camps Bay side of Table Mountain and travels up to the summit of Table Mountain under the breath taking Twelve Apostles. The hike is strenuous but is on a well maintained and marked trail that includes lots of rocky steps on the way up to the top of the mountain. There are a number of breath taking spot to take a picnic break or just to catch your breath. The hike culminates in the famous Table Mountain diving board which can be a fun photo opportunity for the daring. This is an out and back trail (or up and down) as the cable car is quite far away from the top of this route.
Time: 4-5 Hours
Difficulty: Moderately Challenging
Distance: 4.7 Km
Elevation: 576 m
Terrain: Well marked trail with sand paths and many rock steps and small scrambles along the way.
India Venster is one of the more advanced popular hikes due to the fact that it requires more scrambling up strenuous steep sections and a fair amount of exposed route ( not for those scared of heights ). The India Venter hike starts just next to the Cable Car house and ascends below the cable car until it wraps around the back of the Africa face and ends at the top cable car house. It offers unbelievable views and photographic opportunities along the way including the famous “Venster”, which means window in Afrikaans. It is one of our favourite hikes on Table Mountain but it is for the more experienced hiker.
Time: 3-4 Hours
Difficulty: Challenging with exposed sections
Distance: 2.9 Km
Elevation: 747 m
Terrain: Well marked trail with many rock steps and a number of steep sections that require scrambling. There is a section of bolted steel ladders and a few sections of exposed path that can scare those nervous of heights.
Lion’s Head hike is one of the most popular outdoor activities to do while visiting Cape Town. It is a favourite of both locals and travellers. It is the most hiked route in the whole of South Africa. Due its popularity it is a good idea to choose the best time for your guided hike, depending on what you are looking to experience. Some great ideas are sunrise hikes, early morning hikes, evening hikes and full moon hikes up to the summit. The spiral path starts from the Lion’s Head parking lot on signal hill and winds its way up to the summit. The trail includes a few sections with exposure and some steel hand and foot holds stapled into the rock. Lion’s Head does not connect to the top of Table Mountain as the mountain stands separately from it. The summit offers stunning 360 degree views of the city, mountains and ocean.
Time: 3-4 Hours Round Trip ( Up & Down )
Difficulty: Challenging with exposed sections
Distance: 4.3 Km
Elevation: 341 m
Terrain: Well marked trail with many rock steps or well worn path. There is a section of bolted steel ladders and a few sections of exposed path that can scare those nervous of heights.
If you are wanting something a little bit less strenuous, why not explore the summit of Table Mountain with one of our knowledgable guides. Ride the Table Mountain Cable Car up and then walk along the paths that wind their way over the table top section of the mountain and enjoy the amazing views, fauna and flaura. It’s a fantastic way to get outside and enjoy natural without having to climb a mountain.
Time: 3-4 Hours Round Trip ( Up & Down )
Terrain: Flat, well marked paths and trails along the top of the summit of Table Mountain.
Table Mountain is not only beautiful to look at, it offers stunning panoramic views of the Cape Peninsula. Its picturesque views, combined with its rich fauna and flora, makes it the perfect Cape Town outdoor activity to appreciate the beauty of the city and South Africa.
Take a Guided Table Mountain Hike
We highly recommend using a guide when hiking Table Mountain for a number of reasons:
- Table Mountain has so much to offer on a hike, but it is important to choose the right hike to suit your fitness, hiking ability, weather, interests and the experience you are wanting to have. Our travel experts and guides will help choose the best hike to suit your needs and make sure it is a day to remember.
- Getting the most out of your time. Our guides are knowledgeable about many facets of Cape Town, the fauna, flora, geology, weather & history of Cape Town & South Africa. They will make sure you do not miss anything important, and they will make sure you also find those amazing photographic opportunities along the way.
- Safety – hiking can be dangerous, especially with the unpredictable nature of Cape Town’s weather, so it is important to make sure you are safe on your hike, you do not get lost or caught unawares by the changing weather conditions.
- Knowing the best place to be at the right time. Depending on the weather and time of day can affect how wonderful your Table Mountain hike is. Our guides will use their local knowledge to make sure you have the best experience possible.
Why You Should Use a Qualified Guide to Hike Table Mountain
Because Table Mountain is so easily accessible, people assume that it’s an effortless hike. But every year hikers misjudge it and injure themselves, get stuck, or lost and sometimes need to be rescued. The unpredictable weather plays a big factor in this, as well as the challenging terrain. They put up the cableway for a good reason, trekking up the mountain can be very treacherous.
Interesting Table Mountain Facts
Table Mountain is one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature and offers amazing hiking. Before you head out on your own or a guided hike, here are some interesting facts about the mountain.
Table mountain is over 260 million years old and is one of the oldest mountains in the world. ( Mount Everest is estimated as being around 60 million years old ) It’s highest point can be found at MacClears Beacon not too far from the Upper Cable Car station, at approximately 1 085 meters ( 3 560 feet ) above sea level. Table Mountain covers about 3 square kilometres ( 1.2 square miles ) and is home to more than 2 200 species of plants, many of which are endemic to this area of the world and form part of the famous Fynbos biome.
With approximately 9,000 plant species, 69% of which are indigenous, the Fynbos biome is one of the world’s richest and most diverse floral kingdoms (found nowhere else in the world).
Table Mountain is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its unique biodiversity and cultural significance.