Photo Caption: The actual India Venster that the hiking trail was named after.
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Photo by @kyleincpt
Table Mountain does not only serve as the city’s dramatic backdrop, but it is also a hiker’s heaven. There are so many different hikes around Table Mountain, all with diverse vistas and sights along the way.
The India Venster Hike is one of the most popular hikes in Cape Town and is the most direct route to the three main rock climbing crags on Table Mountain. Known for its exciting and adventurous hike options, dramatic views, and imposing topography, it takes about 3.5 hours to reach the top.
India Venster can be an extremely dangerous route for inexperienced hikers because of the steep rock climbing sections and difficult navigation. It is categorized as a Grade B hike, which requires some basic use of arms, in addition to legs, to negotiate steep terrain, called scrambling.
How It Got Its Name
The trail is called the India Venster because of the shape of the ravine that is situated between the two large rock buttresses that look like the Indian subcontinent. The word “Venster”, which means window in Afrikaans, describes a view point framed by rocks on the trail.
The India Venster hike route starts about 50 meters to the right of the lower cable car station on the Table Mountain Road. The trail is well built and meanders to a well-constructed step section, directly under the cables of the cableway. After about 15 to 20 minutes, the path leads you straight to the contour path. Upon reaching the contour path, you will see green signs designating the trail and warning hikers of the dangers.
Then, just follow the blue and/or green spray paint marks and yellow footprints on the rocks. The trail then gradually ascends the gully on the right of the Venster Buttress. Close to the top of the gully, the path splits, take the left-hand path that leads to a platform on top of the middle section of the Venster Buttress.
You will then see a large amphitheater extending out to the left. From the right side of the amphitheater, traverse to the left-hand corner where the trail abruptly becomes steeper. You will find yourself at the base of a 50-meter rock pitch in a broken up section, just to the right of the Arrow Buttress ridge. All you will see in front of you is a sheer wall of rock stretching from one side of the mountain to another. This is the hardest part of the hike.
In May 2009, the reserve installed staples and chains after 6 hikers died in the same section in the span of less than a year. These staples and chains, along with expert guides who will show you where to step, where to hold, and how to hoist yourself up to the next level will make the scramble in this section easier and safer.
You will then arrive at the resting area. From this point on, the route follows a path around the side and to the back of the mountain. It is the easiest portion of the hike with stunning views of Camps Bay, the Twelve Apostles, and Lion’s Head.
What to Bring
Never traverse India Venster without a competent trail guide as the most difficult section of the hike has claimed a number of lives. It is better to rather be safe than sorry. Also, bring warm clothes because the weather changes abruptly on the mountain. And since India Venster is a half-day route to the summit, bring some food and enough water to keep you full and hydrated during the hike.
It is best to hike up the mountain when the weather is good, visibility is clear and the wind is minimal. The views on top of the mountain are sensational and the hike up via the India Venster Route is engaging. Accompanied by a competent guide, India Venster is a great choice for adventurous hikers and those who are not afraid of heights. It surely is a fantastic, thrilling and unforgettable way to experience hiking up Table Mountain.
Book a hike now with hiketablemountain.co.za