Table Mountain is without a doubt one of Cape Town’s most iconic and beloved landmarks. But, instead of admiring its beauty from below, we highly recommend hiking Platteklip Gorge instead. Especially if you’re looking to immerse yourself in the full local Cape Town hiking experience. The world-renowned Table Mountain boasts a variety of exciting hiking trails to choose from. Each one adding something unique and thrilling to your hiking adventure. However, the infamous Platteklip Gorge is easily one of the most well-known and sought-after hiking trails in Cape Town. Thereby making it a popular choice for both hiking first timers and avid hiking enthusiasts. In order to ensure you are fully prepared to conquer the Platteklip Gorge Table Mountain hiking trail, we’ve put together the ultimate guide to hiking Platteklip Gorge. Jam-packed with everything you need to know to get you to the top of the summit.
Conquering Platteklip Gorge: How difficult is it really?
- Difficulty: Easy -Moderate level of difficulty
- Fitness level required: Moderate level of fitness required
Compared to other Table Mountain hiking trails, Platteklip Gorge is one of the shorter and less challenging routes to the top. However, although it is considered one of Table Mountain’s easier ascends, it’s not all happy-hiking-days and easy-going ways as many might think. While it doesn’t require any expert mountaineering skills or challenging rock climbing or scrambling, it does demand a lot of upward climbing. The fact that it’s one of Table Mountain’s shorter hiking trails, also means it’s pretty steep. So, you better be prepared to climb a whole lot of steep steps to reach the top. But once you reach the summit, all the muscle aches and hiking woes will be forgotten. As you will be well rewarded for your hiking efforts. Showcasing one of the most spectacular high-rise mountain views of the Mother City and beyond.
The fact that Platteklip Gorge provides hikers with a direct route to the summit, unlike many of its other trails, means you’ll be able to enjoy all the incredible views and attractions the top of Table Mountain has to offer. In addition to being one of Table Mountain’s easier ascends, it is also considered one of the most beautiful. Owed to the fact that you are surrounded by unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean and glorious city of Cape Town all the way throughout your hike.
As Platteklip Gorge is one of Table Mountain’s less challenging hiking trails, it welcomes hikers of various ages and fitness levels to join in on the hiking fun. Making it one of Cape Town’s more social and interactive hikes. Where friends, family and fellow hikers can share and enjoy an amazing hiking experience in the Mother City. Therefore, on a lovely warm day you’ll undoubtedly encounter several other hiker’s making their way up Platteklip Gorge to the top of Table Mountain.
It’s therefore safe to say that Platteklip Gorge is one of the safest and most direct routes if you’d like to hike Table Mountain on your visit to Cape Town. Especially if you don’t have an expert hiking experience.
Where does the Platteklip Gorge Hiking Trail adventure start & end?
- Start point: Lower Aerial Cableway Station
- End Point: Upper Aerial Cableway Station
In order to reach the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail you will start the route on Tafelberg Road. Once you reach the Table Mountain Lower Cableway Station carry on walking until you see the Platteklip Gorge sign and parking area. You will also see an area where busses are often parked. Walk past the parking area and keep left until you see the Platteklip turn-off/sign. This sign will clearly trace out the route that you are going to hike.
From there take the route that heads directly up the hill with no option to turn off anywhere. Continue this path until you reach another signpost which will indicate that you have reached the Upper Contour Path. The sign will say ‘Upper Cable Station via Platteklip Gorge, 4080m’. From here you will turn left and follow the sign towards Platteklip Gorge via the Upper Contour Path.
As you continue walking on this route you will reach an intersection where Platteklip Gorge crosses the path. You will then reach a signpost that says ‘Upper Cable Car Station via Platteklip Gorge, +/- 2 hours’. This will give you some re-assurance that you are indeed on the right route.
From there you will start zig-zagging your way up a beautiful ravine as you continue to follow the path to the Upper Cable Station. Which will ultimately lead you to the top of Table Mountain. Once you reach the summit of your hike, take the route to the right and carry on walking until you find yourself at the centre-point of Table Mountain. Once you’ve reached your hard-earned destination end point, you will find the Upper Aerial Cable Way Station, gift shop, restaurant and cafe. So, go wild and reward yourself for your efforts. You DEFINITELY deserve it!
Transport options to get to the start point of the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail
There are several travel and transport options to reach Tafelberg Road and the Lower Cable Way Station. Which is the start point of the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail. In addition to renting a car or making use of your own transport, you can make your way to the Table Mountain Cableway station by means of the Hop-On-Hop-Off City Sightseeing bus. Which goes to all the main tourist areas including the Table Mountain’s Lower Cable Car station. Taxis and Uber rides are also readily available. You can also choose to take the MyCiti Bus to the Table Mountain Cableway station. Once you’ve completed your hike, you can make use of the same transportation options to take you back to your initial destination. Provided it is a destination the route if you choose to make use of the Hop-On-Hop-Off City Sightseeing bus or MyCiti bus.
The Route: What can you expect to experience when hiking Platteklip Gorge?
- Approximate route distance: The Platteklip Gorge hiking trails is approximately 2 – 2.5km
The Platteklip Gorge hiking trail is known as the easier and most direct route to the summit of Table Mountain. As you make your way up the front face of Table Mountain, you will follow a well-constructed trail up a beautiful deep ravine featuring imposing cliffs in its upper reaches. This deep ravine offers beautiful views and spectacular sights. Especially during winter where you’ll find a cascading flowing stream. The hike itself mainly consists of big rock steps with a tiny bit of scrambling required lower down the route. However, no expert mountaineering or expert rock scrambling skills is required to conquer the famous Platteklip Gorge hike.
Thereby making it a very accessible hike for anyone wanting to enjoy a beautiful hike in Cape Town. Irrespective of your hiking experience or fitness level. All while exploring the unapologetic natural beauty and biodiversity the Mother City has to offer. As Platteklip Gorge is one of Table Mountain’s oldest routes, it also carries a lot of history. Making it quite a treat to discover and explore. You will therefore have the opportunity to experience all the unique biodiversity, fauna, flora and wildlife Table Mountain has to offer first-hand. Which will undoubtedly make for a truly exciting Cape Town hiking experience.
Once you reach the summit of your hike, you can follow the route to the right and carry on walking until you reach the top of the centre-point of Table Mountain. Here you’ll find the restaurant, cafe, gift ship, a few exciting activities, walking tours and experiences as well as the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway station. Be sure to take your time to take in all the magnificent views. As well as take advantage of all the opportunities to explore the top of this iconic flat-topped mountain. It isn’t known as one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World for just anything.
Alternative routes down when hiking Platteklip Gorge
As Platteklip Gorge is a direct and rather steep ascend to the top of Table Mountain, your body and legs may well be feeling the after-effects of the steep hike up. If this is indeed the case, you can opt to enjoy an Aerial Cableway ride to the bottom. However, if the cableway is closed due to bad weather and strong winds, the Platteklip Gorge route is the default and safest descent as it involves no technical sections or exposure to heights.
What is the average time to reach the top of the Platteklip Gorge summit?
- Average time to the top: Approximately 2.5 – 3 hours one way
The average time estimation to reach the summit via Platteklip Gorge is anywhere from 2.5 – 3 hours one way. Depending on your fitness levels and the number of times you stop to admire the spectacular views. And capture a few memorable photos of your hiking experience. Although 2.5 – 3 hours is the average time to reach the top, some die-hard fitness fanatics have been known to shock us from time to time by sprinting their way to the summit in an hour. But remember, it isn’t a race to the top. Take your time to admire the spectacular views and incredible fauna and flora Table Mountain has to offer. It really is all about the experience.
Important to know when hiking Platteklip Gorge
- Although it is considered one of the most popular and scenic Table Mountain hiking trails, it provides hikers with very little shade along the way. This means that on a hot summer’s day you will be exposed to the blazing sun for a lengthy period. The Platteklip Gorge hiking trail is therefore best avoided on a hot day. But, if you’re a bit of a rebel and choose to put on your hiking shoes and conquer the Table Mountain summit anyway, be sure to take enough sun block, a hat and TONS of water too. As there are no water fountains available on the route. Trust us, water is one thing you don’t want to run out of when going on a Table Mountain hike.
- Be prepared for anything! As you may well know, things are never quite as they seem. Especially when it comes to the Mother City’s unpredictable weather patterns. So, although your hiking adventure might start off sunny, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. It is therefore recommended that you take a jacket or warm piece of clothing along on any Cape Town hike. Just in case! As you never really know which way the Cape Town weather will sway.
- As always proper shoes and proper hiking attire is a must. Keep the sandals and flip-flops for the beach!
- Platteklip Gorge, which means flat rock gorge, is known for its large flat rocks and impressive Table Mountain sandstone cliffs. The Platteklip Gorge Table Mountain hiking route is also covered in fynbos. Which forms part of the unique Cape Floral Kingdom. You will also encounter a few river passes throughout your hike. As well as a variety of fauna and flora around the area.
- When going hiking in Cape Town, it is important to remember that things can flip in an instant. As the Platteklip Gorge trail requires you to make your way up several steep rock steps, the route can become quite slippery at times. Especially after heavy rainfall or when the Cape Town fog hangs low. It’s therefore essential to take extra precaution when you find yourself hiking in these conditions.
- SANParks has also reported several rescues at this site. As people often underestimate the extreme heat and level of fitness and effort required to reach the summit. So, make sure you are well prepared for what’s about to come. You are hiking the all-mighty Table Mountain after all.
- It is essential to make sure that if you do plan on taking the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway back down after your hike that you don’t miss the last cable car going down. Therefore, making it extremely important to plan your hike and timing perfectly.
- It is absolutely CRUCIAL that you never hike alone on any of Table Mountain’s hiking routes for your own safety. Safety first, always!
- Child friendly: The Platteklip Gorge hiking trail is child friendly. However, it is essential to take note of all the above and take the necessary precautions.
- Pet friendly: Bringing dogs is not recommended on this trail, as they struggle in the heat.