Table-Mountain-Hiking-Trail
Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: Rob Donnelly

Standing tall at a staggering 1,086 meters above sea level. Table Mountain is known as the all-mighty giant of the Cape Town skyline. Named one of the New7Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain is not only one of Cape Town’s most iconic landmarks and sought-after attractions. It is also the ultimate mecca for nature lovers, avid hikers and adventure seekers. Boasting a large variety of wildlife, birdlife and unique fauna and flora. Thereby making exploring Table Mountain’s natural beauty an exciting adventure in every way.

Besides its highly acclaimed and prestigious title as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. Table Mountain has also received a variety of other awards and accolades, Further cementing its status as one of the most magnificent displays of Mother Nature. In 2016 Table Mountain was crowned the ‘Best South African Attraction’ by Cheap Flights Travel Awards. In addition, Table Mountain was officially awarded the accolade of Africa’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the Africa and Indian Ocean World Travel Awards in Mauritius. Not to mention the fact that is was dubbed one of the most Ínstgrammable’ spots, not only in Cape Town, but the world.

It’s therefore no surprise that a visit to the tall-standing mountainous giant of Table Mountain is one of the top Cape Town bucket-list experiences for anyone travelling to the Mother City.

We’ve put together the ultimate guide to Table Mountain filled with everything you need to know to navigate, explore and experience all the diversity, beauty, adventure and natural gems it has to offer.

FAUNA & FLORA

Table Mountain National Park

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: soomness

The Table Mountain National Park has two world-renowned landmarks within its boundaries: the majestic Table Mountain and the legendary Cape of Good Hope. Declared by UNESCO as a Word Heritage Site, the Table Mountain National Park encompasses the incredibly scenic Peninsula mountain chain that stretches from Signal Hill in the north all the way to the dramatic Cape Point in the south. Which is an accumulative distance of approximately 60km.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

Recognised globally for its extraordinarily rich and diverse fauna and flora, this singular land formation, with rugged cliffs, steep slopes and sandy flats, is a truly phenomenal natural, scenic, historical, cultural and recreational asset both locally and internationally. Nowhere else in the entire world does an area of such unique beauty and rich biodiversity exist almost entirely within a metropolitan area – the beautiful and one-of-a-kind cosmopolitan city of Cape Town. In addition, the Table Mountain National Park is also home to the world’s smallest, yet most diverse, floral kingdom, known as the Cape Floristic Region. With the beloved Cape Fynbos, an ancient indigenous vegetation that is endemic to the tip of the African continent, being one of only six floral kingdoms in the world. And is the only one that occurs entirely in one country.

Table Mountain

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

As Table Mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park, a magnificent World Heritage Site, it boasts a truly spectacular diversity of fauna and flora. Including the unique yet endangered plant diversity known as Fynbos. The approximate 57-square-kilometre area comprising Table Mountain and the Back Table is said to be home to more than 1470 floral species. With many of them being endemic to the area. Truly making it any nature lover’s dream destination to explore. Although Table Mountain’s vegetation is mainly made up of endangered Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos. You will also find the critically endangered Peninsula Granite Fynbos as well as Peninsula Shale Renosterveld and small sections of Afromontane forest. The sheer diversity of indigenous flora found on Table Mountain is truly staggering. And a true joy and adventure to discover and witness first-hand.

Fynbos

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

Fynbos is essentially an Afrikaans word that means “delicate bush”. It is the name given to the scrubby vegetation that is particular to the Cape and is found in abundance on Table Mountain’s slopes. Fynbos actually consists of four primary plant groups: Proteas (large broad-leafed shrubs), Ericas (low-growing shrubs), Restios (thin reed-like plants) and Geophytes (bulbs). As we mentioned earlier, Fynbos is highly endemic to the Cape, with some species only found in a specific area covering a few kilometres. Making exploring Table Mountain’s unique Fynbos display a bucket-list worthy experience for any nature lover, avid explorer or keen adventurer.

However, it’s not all good news. Due to the risk posed on these unique plant species as a result of erosion, human development and frequent fires. The Cape Floristic Region was declared a biodiversity hot spot. By the time Table Mountain was recognised as a World Heritage Site by the international botanical community, 26 fynbos species had already been declared extinct. However, important and active efforts are being made to ensure the revival, protection and growth of the beloved Cape Fynbos.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: Joachim Huber

Interesting Table Mountain flora facts:

  • Close to 1500 plant species are found on Table Mountain
  • There are 500 different types of erica to be found on the mountain
  • Iris species number around 100
  • The Table Mountain National Park has the richest single floristic area on the planet
  • There are six recognized floral kingdoms – the Antarctic, Australasian, Boreal, Neotropic, Palaeotropic and Cape. The Cape has the highest known concentration of plant species – 1,300 per 10,000km2
  • The Cape Peninsula has in excess of 2,500 fynbos species
  • Many local plant species are being forced to the brink of extinction by invasive alien species including the wattle and pine
  • There are more than 350 paths up to the top of Table Mountain
  • Fynbos needs fire to promote healthy growth
  • Frequent fires burn young plants before they grow seeds, paving the way for the extinction of weaker species
  • Common garden plants like geraniums and freesias have their origin in fynbos

Wildlife

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: serena_tang

In addition to its unique biodiversity and spectacular fauna and flora, Table Mountain is also home to some diverse and prolific wildlife. The most common mammal you’ll find on the mountain is the dassie or rock hyrax. You will also encounter a variety of porcupines, mongooses, snakes, lizards and tortoises. As well as a rare endemic species of amphibian that is only found here – the Table Mountain ghost frog. The mountain cliffs are also home to several raptor species, including the charismatic Verreaux’s eagle, jackal buzzard, booted eagle (in summer), African harrier-hawk, peregrine falcon and rock kestrel.

While leopards once roamed the slopes of Table Mountain in the 1920’s, now the biggest cat you’re likely to spot when exploring the mountainside is the rooikat (caracal). Which is a pretty spectacular sight!

GETTING TO THE TOP

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: Philip Milne

While admiring the iconic Table Mountain from below is a truly spectacular sight. Nothing beats the magnificence of a Table Mountain summit view. Therefore, in addition to seeing Table Mountain from below from the lower Table Mountain Cableway Station. Or one of the city’s many incredible vantage points. Few things come close to the view you’ll experience from the top of this majestic Cape Town mountainous giant.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

And we highly recommend you experience it for yourself. There are two main ways of getting to the top of Table Mountain and experiencing everything it has to offer. In order to reach the summit, you can either choose to enjoy an exciting Aerial Cable-Way ride to the top. Or if you’re an avid hiker or keen adventurer, hiking your way to the top of Table Mountain is right up your alley! And definitely worth every second.

AERIAL CABLEWAY

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: serena_tang

The easiest way to make your way to the top of Table Mountain is by means of the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. Since first opening in 1929, the famous Aerial Cableway has attracted millions of visitors each year all looking to experience this bucket-list worthy adventure first-hand. Each cable-car can carry up to 65 passengers per trip. With the journey up the mountain taking a total of approximately 5 minutes. In order to give each passenger the opportunity to experience the spectacular views on their way up and down Table Mountain, the cable-car rotates through 360 degrees during the trip.

In order to allow as many people as possible to experience a trip to the summit of this iconic Cape Town landmark. Cable-cars depart every 10-15 minutes from the lower cableway station on Tafelberg Road. However, you can expect to spend quite a fair amount of time waiting in the que. Especially during peak season in Cape Town. Therefore, if you are planning to enjoy an Aerial Cableway ride to the top of Table Mountain on your visit to the Mother City, be sure to plan your trip accordingly. As the Aerial Cableway does not operate if the wind is too strong or the visibility is too poor.

However, on a beautiful Cape Town day, an Aerial Cableway ride to the top of Table Mountain is an incredible and exciting bucket-list worthy experience in every way! And one absolutely everyone should get to experience at least once in their lives. Plus, the fact that the whole family can join in on the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway fun makes the experience all the more special!

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

Prices for the Aerial Cableway:

The following prices are valid from November 2019 – April 2020:

  • Morning Adult (8am – 1pm): Return Ticket: R360 | One-way Ticket: R200
  • Morning Children: 4 – 17 years old (8am – 1pm): Return Ticket: R180 | One-way Ticket: R100
  • SA Senior Citizens (7 days a week): Return Ticket: R100 | One-way Ticket: R50
  • Early Access Tickets (7:30am – 8am): Return Ticket: R450
  • Afternoon Adult (1pm – closing): Return Ticket: R300 | One-way Ticket: R200
  • Afternoon Children: 4 – 17 years old (1pm – closing): Return Ticket: R150 | One-way Ticket: R100

In addition to being one of Cape Town’s top attractions, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway has been awarded Platinum status in the Heritage Environmental Rating Programme. But what exactly does this platinum status mean? Platinum certification reflects a member that has achieved a sustainable level of internationally acceptable environmental impacts. Not only does that mean that the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway can compete with the best of the best around the world. But also that their eco-friendly solutions – like introducing compostable food containers and chemical toilets – have long-term viability and can make a lasting impact. The Table Mountain Cableway is the first tourist attraction in South Africa to receive the prestigious Platinum rating. Making it a pretty remarkable achievement in itself.

HIKING UP TABLE MOUNTAIN

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide Secret Cape Town - Hike Table Mountain

It’s time for the ultimate Cape Town hiking adventure! While the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway station is definitely a convenient and fun way to get to the top of Table Mountain. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous and thrilling, we highly recommend hiking up or down (or both if you’re up for the challenge) this iconic flat-topped mountain giant. Table Mountain has a variety of beautiful and exciting hiking trails to choose from. Catering to different fitness, experience and skill levels. Thereby giving everyone the opportunity to join in on the Table Mountain hiking fun. But there are definitely a few things they all have in common:

  • EVERY Table Mountain hike is filled with sensational views all the way to the summit.
  • You’ll discover tons of hidden gems and secret spots in your Table Mountain hiking adventure, so keep your eyes open for them!
  • You’ll get the incredible opportunity to experience and explore the magnificent biodiversity and unique fauna and flora found on the slopes of Table Mountain. Especially the beloved Cape Fynbos. As well as a few amazing sightings of the diverse and prolific wildlife that roam the mountainside.
  • Regardless of which route you choose, hiking up Table Mountain promises to be a truly thrilling and unforgettable bucket-list worthy adventure in every way!
  • The view from the top of Table Maintain is both awe inspiring and magnificent and like nothing you’ve seen before. So make sure you take your camera along for a few sensational Table Mountain summit shots!

Some of Table Mountain’s top hiking trails include Platteklip Gorge, Skeleton Gorge, India Venster, Kasteelpoort, Tranquilly Cracks, the Pipe Track, Woody Ravine, Devil’s Peak and Maclear’s Beacon. Here is some insight into a few of these popular Table Mountain hiking trails. Just to ensure you are ready, excited and prepared for what’s to come!

HIKING TRAILS

#1 Platteklip Gorge

  • Difficulty: Easy -Moderate level of difficulty
  • Fitness level required: Moderate level of fitness required
  • Start point: Lower Aerial Cableway Station
  • End Point: Upper Aerial Cableway Station
  • Approximate route distance: The Platteklip Gorge hiking trails is approximately 2 – 2.5km
  • Average time to the top: Approximately 2.5 – 3 hours one way
  • 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
Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

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. 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.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

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.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

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.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

To find out more about this exciting and highly sought-after hiking trail, have a look at our Ultimate Guide to Hiking Platteklip Gorge blog to find out everything you need to know to successfully conquer this Table Mountain hiking trail.

#2 Skeleton Gorge

  • Difficulty level: Hard
  • Fitness level required: Medium – high
  • Start point: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
  • End Point: Maclear’s Beacon
  • Approximate route distance: 3km
  • Average time to the top: Approximately 2 – 4 hours one way
Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: Graeme Churchard

Skeleton Gorge is long, steep, challenging and certainly commands a certain level of fitness to conquer its summit. Although it’s unique name can scare even the most avid hikers, there’s no need to fear. This top Cape Town hiking trail is far less daunting than it might seem at first glance. Don’t get us wrong, hiking up Skeleton Gorge is by no means a walk in the park. But it definitely is every bit as thrilling and exciting as it is challenging! And although it may require some sweat and hard work, you will be well rewarded in the end. Not to mention the spectacular sweep-you-off-your-feet views you’ll be able to enjoy all the way throughout your hike.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: Graeme Churchard

The beautiful forest like start in Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens makes Skeleton Gorge one of the most picturesque hikes. And definitely one of the most sought-after hiking experiences for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts from around the world. Although this Table Mountain Hiking trail is only 3km, it is not to be underestimated. The Skeleton Gorge trail starts off with a steep ascend from the 310m contour path above Kirstenbosch up the back of Table Mountain. As you’re surrounded by indigenous forests and shaded tress, the first half of your hike will almost feel like you’ve escaped to some far away jungle. Making it a popular choice for nature lovers from all around the world. Although the scenic beauty of this hiking trail is unparalleled, prepare for a tough climb as you work your way up to the highest point of ascend, Maclear’s Beacon. You will need to do some rock scrambling, ladder climbing and overcome a few rockfalls before you reach the top. Footing and gripping can be difficult when making your way through this portion of the hike. So be sure to take extra precaution and wear proper hiking shoes.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: Simon Pearson

If there’s one thing Skeleton Gorge is known for, it’s the variety of hidden natural gems and cool secret spots along the way. A catch-your-breath break on the aptly named Breakfast Rock or a quick chill session on the ‘beach’ at the reddish Hely-Hutchinson reservoir at the summit, are just a few of our Skeleton Gorge favourite things to look out for. Although you’re not allowed to swim in the reservoir, it truly is quite a spectacular sight to see.

Photo credit: Erin

As Skeleton Gorge requires you to make your way through some forested areas, parts of the gorge can be quite slippery, even during summer. It’s therefore recommended to avoid this route during and immediately after heavy rainfall. As it is considered a long and challenging hike with several rockfalls, obstacles and ladders to overcome before reaching the top, a high level of fitness is required before taking on the Skeleton Gorge Hiking Trail. It is therefore not a recommended hiking route for children or first-time hikers. But, don’t let that detour you from your newfound Cape Town hiking love affair. Table Mountain has an endless variety of incredible hiking trails to choose from. With each one catering to different fitness and experience levels. Pretty soon you’ll be conquering Skeleton Gorge like a real hiking pro.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: Graeme Churchard

To find out more about this thrilling hiking trail, have a look at our Ultimate Guide to Hiking Skeleton Gorge blog to find out everything you need to know to successfully conquer this Table Mountain hiking trail.

#3 India Venster

  • Difficulty: High level of difficulty
  • Fitness level required: Moderate – high level of fitness required
  • Start point: Lower Aerial Cableway Station
  • End point: Upper Aerial Cableway Station
  • Approximate route distance: The India Venster hiking trail is approximately 2.5km
  • Average time to the top: Approximately 3 – 4 hours one way
  • Child-friendly: No
  • Pet-friendly: No
Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

Compared to other Table Mountain hiking trails, India Venster is definitely one of the more challenging and demanding routes. And is therefore only to be attempted by more experienced hikers. Or those that are fit enough and ready to take on the India Venster hiking challenge in full force. The difficulty of this hiking trail pretty much boils down to the rock scrambles. Although you don’t scramble all the way to the top. There certainly is a substantial portion of the hike that will require you to scramble over rock faces. While rock scrambling can be a real adrenalin rush for avid hikers and adventure enthusiasts, it can also be tricky and incredibly tiring. And is not to be underestimated. Some good upper body strength and a top-notch fitness level is therefore highly recommended if you’re keen to take on this Cape Town hiking beast. In addition, if you have a fear of heights, you might want to give India Venster a pass. As the route requires you to wedge your way onto some daunting ledges at times. As well as make your way up some daring cliffs.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide Secret Cape Town  - India Venster

Besides being a more difficult climb to the top, this Cape Town hiking trail is jam-packed with killer views and all the thrill avid hikers crave. Making it an incredibly rewarding hiking experience. And if you’re a lover of living on the edge, India Venster is right up your hiking alley! It is also the most direct route to the three main rock climbing “crags” on Table Mountain. Thereby resulting in a steeper and more difficult and technical climb to the top. As well as a popular choice for expert hiking enthusiasts from all around the world. However, the climb is not for the faint hearted. And is incredibly steep and daunting at times. It is therefore only recommended for fit and experienced hikers. Casual hikers, beginners, and those with children should opt for the more accessible trails like Platteklip Gorge.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
created by dji camera

Besides a challenging climb, India Venster certainly has a few hidden gems located along the route. In addition to the three main rock climbing “crags” on Table Mountain, keep an eye open for ‘The Ledge’, ‘Fountain Ledge’ and ‘African Ledge’ as well as the ‘Lily Pond’ (aptly named due to it being embraced by Arum lily plants) as you make your way to the top. Before the ‘Lily Pond’ you will also find an overhang where you can have a break and cool off in the shade. This is locally referred to as the “Tea Cave”.

In addition to all of these cool hidden gems, amazing secret spots and a truly exhilarating climb to the top, the view from the Table Mountain summit is truly unbeatable! Making your epic bucket-list worthy India Venster hiking adventure all the more worth it!

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

To find out more about this exhilarating, challenging, yet rewarding hiking trail, have a look at our Ultimate Guide to India Venster blog to find out everything you need to know to successfully conquer this Table Mountain hiking trail.

#4 Kasteelpoort

  • Difficulty: Moderate – high level of difficulty
  • Fitness level required: Moderate – high level of fitness required
  • Start point: There are two starting point options: If you start from the Pipe Track, it will add about an extra hour to your hike. Alternatively you can park on Theresa Road and walk up the Jeep track towards the Pipe Track. Turn left on the Pipe Track to reach the Kasteelpoort turn-off. On top of the mountain you can hike for about an hour on your way to the Cableway for an alternative option down.
  • End point: Upper Aerial Cableway Station
  • Average time to the top: Approximately 2 – 4 hours one way
  • Child-friendly: This trail is not recommended for children or novice hikers, as rock-scrambling can be quite challenging at certain points.
  • Dog-friendly: No
Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

Besides being one of the most highly acclaimed Table Mountain hiking trails, the Kasteelpoort hiking trail is a great option if you’re looking to enjoy a calmer hiking route with less congestion. Taking on the mighty mountain from the Camps Bay side, the Kasteelpoort hiking trail boasts stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean, Twelve Apostles and Lion’s Head. And on a clear day you’ll even be able to see Robben Island! Although its breath-takingly beautiful views are bound to sweep you off your feet, this Table Mountain hiking trail is not to be underestimated. Making your way up Kasteelpoort is a serious workout, but of course with the consolation of the magnificent backdrop makes it well worth it.

The Kasteelpoort hiking trail is a great challenging climb and is considered moderately difficult when it comes to skill and experience level. However, beginners with a good fitness level will still be able to endure the hike and conquer the mighty Kasteelpoort Table Mountain trail. The fact that the trail has very little exposure to edges or heights and boasts more of a stair-like terrain also makes it slightly easier for less experienced hikers to take on. After you reach the midway point however, you will find more levelled terrain.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

By far one of the most interesting parts of the peak, and undoubtedly one of the top reasons why the Kasteelpoort hiking trail has become one of the most popular and sought-after Cape Town hiking trails for locals and travellers alike is the protruding rock formation on the mountainside referred to as the diving board. The infamous ‘diving board’ has graced the pages of many travel magazines, Instagram feeds and hiking adventure selfies. As the name suggests, the ‘diving board’ hangs right over the edge and has been known to get even the most experienced adrenaline junkie’s heart’s racing. But besides it’s ‘living on the edge’ allure, the diving board also boasts some of the most spectacular sweeping views of the Twelve Apostles Mountain Range, Lions Head, Robben Island, Camps Bay, the Atlantic Ocean and everything in between. Although making your iconic debut on the renowned ‘Diving Board’ is incredibly tempting and super exciting, it is not to be attempted by the faint hearted or the inexperienced, especially not on a windy Cape Town day. We all know how unpredictable that Mother City gust can be!

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

When it comes to hiking the Kasteelpoort hiking trail, a morning climb is a great choice on a hot day. As it gives you the opportunity to utilise the mountain shade. As this Table Mountain hiking route only starts to receive direct sunlight by mid-morning. So, it’s highly recommended that hikers start early in the morning during the hot summer months, preferably between 5:30 to 6:30 am. Plus, you’ll get to see the gorgeous sunrise, all while witnessing the glorious Mother City from the top of the all-mighty Table Mountain. What more can you ask for?

Interesting titbit: look out for old cableway remnants along your Kasteelpoort Table Mountain hiking route. The route was used to carry supplies up for construction of dams in the 1800s.

#5 Tranquility Cracks

  • Difficulty: Moderate level of difficulty
  • Fitness level required: Moderate level of fitness required
  • Start point: Start at the Pipe Track above Camps Bay | The start point can either be accessed from the Theresa avenue trail in Camps Bay or the one at the base of Tafelberg Road.
  • End Point: Tranquillity Cracks | Top of Table Mountain
  • Average time to the top: 2 – 3 hours (one way)
  • Need to know: SANParks does not recommend attempting this trail in cloudy or misty weather, as it becomes more difficult to find your way in such conditions. When embarking on your Tranquillity Cracks Table Mountain hiking adventure DO NOT HIKE UP SLANGOLIE RAVINE! The route has been officially closed by SANPARKS due to rockfalls which have deemed it extremely unsafe.
Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: Sandra Mallinson

The Tranquility Cracks hiking route is undoubtedly one of Table Mountain’s most trilling hiking trails. Although there are many hidden gems found in and along Table Mountain, the series of interlinking deep and narrow slits and fractures between rocks, known as the Tranquility Cracks, is without a doubt one of Table Mountain’s best kept secrets. And a real thrill for avid hikers and adventure seekers to discover.  It’s therefore no surprise that the Tranquility Cracks are considered one of the Table Mountain’s most popular and sought-after hiking trails.

Essentially the Tranquillity Cracks refers directly to the series of interlinking deep and narrow slits and fractures between rocks above Camps Bay. Beyond the cracks you will also find a labyrinth of rocky corridors filled with indigenous Yellowwood trees that are not easily visible from the outside. But once you make your way inside, the real fun and games begin! As you’ll find thrilling ways to squeeze through the corridors and explore the variety of passages and interesting viewpoints it has to offer. Thereby making a Tranquillity Cracks hiking expedition a real adventure and bucket-list worthy hiking experience for any nature loving thrill seeker at heart.

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: alistair.pott

As the Tranquillity Cracks is considered one of Table Mountain’s best kept secrets and hidden gems, many people struggle to actually find the cracks. The cracks are located at the top of Slangolie Buttress, but despite this, DO NOT HIKE UP SLANGOLIE RAVINE! The route has been officially closed by SANPARKS due to rockfalls which have deemed it extremely unsafe. You can however hike up any of the other Table Mountain hiking routes and then traverse to this stunning hidden wonderland, but the easiest and safest route is via Corridor Ravine or Kasteelpoort.

When embarking on your hiking journey to discover the Tranquillity Cracks it’s important to be very conscious of taking the right route to the top as there are a few paths between Corridor Ravine and Kasteelpoort that are not used too often. While it may look like you’re on the right track, these paths actually lead to other routes like Woody Buttress as well as other Table Mountain viewpoints. This is why the Tranquillity Cracks is so tricky to find. If you start to see Lions Head in front of you and you have not turned left yet, then you know you’ve gone slightly too far. So back track a bit until you find the path. The path to Tranquillity Cracks can be a bit vague and overgrown, but you need to head towards an outcrop of rocks. You will only know if you have been successful in your search for this Table Mountain hidden gem once you have actually found the Tranquillity Cracks as the entrances are hidden by bushes and Yellowwood trees. Once you’ve finally found it, there are several amazing tunnels, entrances and cracks to explore. So enjoy yourself as you discover this lessor known section of Table Mountain.

Although this is not one of the most challenging Table Mountain hikes, it’s certainly not to be underestimated either. It can be quite steep at times with some loose gravel, narrow pathways, and slippery sections you will have to navigate. So, take your time and plenty of rests breaks along the way. There are some sensational views to admire as you make your way to the top, so be sure to take some time to enjoy them.

#6 The Pipe Track

  • Difficulty: Easy level of difficulty
  • Level of fitness required: Low – Moderate level of fitness required
  • Start point: The starting point is from the lowest parking lot on Tafelberg Road.
  • End point: Camps Bay
  • Average time to the top: 1.5 – 3 hours | The route is easy-going, although it becomes slightly tougher after passing by Slangolie Ravine.
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
Photo credit: alistair.pott

The Pipe Track is the perfect Table Mountain hiking route for beginner hikers. As well as hikers looking to enjoy a more relaxed and laid-back Cape Town hiking experience. Although the Pipe Track doesn’t go up all the way to the top of Table Mountain, it circles around the mountain. Thereby giving you the perfect opportunity to enjoy an incredible Cape Town hiking adventure while admiring magnificent views of Lion’s Head, the Atlantic Ocean and the stunning Mother City.

Another bonus for first time hikers is the fact that the Pipe Track is pretty effortless and is generally all on the flat. Unless you choose to start the hiking trail from Camps Bay, then the initial climb will require some effort. But it is certainly still do-able. The Pipe Track follows a path between Kloof Nek and Kasteelpoort, adjacent to Table Mountain. And besides sensational views, you’re guaranteed a pretty good workout and even some rich Mother City history. Yes, the Pipe Track trail actually follows a pipeline that was built for the purpose of servicing and supplying 19th-century Cape Town with water from the Disa Gorge.

The starting point is from the lowest parking lot on Tafelberg Road. There are concrete stairs located to the right of the parking lot, towards the Twelve Apostles on Camps Bay side. And you can turn back whenever you want as the route meanders to the Corridor Ravine for roughly 6km.

#7 Maclear’s Beacon

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town
  • Difficulty: Moderate level of difficulty
  • Fitness level required: Moderate level of fitness required
  • Start point: Upper Cableway Station
  • End point: Maclear’s Beacon
  • Average time to the top: 2 hours (approximately 1 hour each way)
  • Dog-friendly: No
  • Need to know: SANParks does not recommend attempting this trail in cloudy or misty weather, as it becomes more difficult to find your way in such conditions

HIKING SAFETY TIPS

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

If you do decide to hike up Table Mountain, here are a few important tips to remember:

  • Always wear the appropriate hiking gear and shoes.
  • Be prepared for anything! Cape Town is known for its wild and unpredictable weather patterns. This means the weather can change at the flip of a coin. It’s therefore important that you always take something warm along (even if its unbelievably hot outside) as well as sunblock and proper weatherproof and windproof clothing in your backpack. Just in case the weather suddenly does a 180degree flip on your way up or down or if you are delayed for some reason.
  • Take more than enough drinking water along, especially in summer. You are going to need it!
  • When hiking Table Mountain, NEVER hike alone! A group of four is ideal. It’s a great idea to nominate a leader to guide you and make decisions on behalf of the group.
  • Always stick to the trail and don’t wander too far off the beaten path. Even if you are an experienced hiker. Table Mountain rescue mission happen far more often than you think.
  • Make sure you choose the ideal Table Mountain hiking route that is best suited to your group’s experience, fitness level, skill and capability. Never take on more than you can handle! This is the all-mighty mountainous giant of Table Mountain after all.
  • The group should hike at the rate of the slowest member and should never split up. Always stick together!
  • Remember that the Cableway can close at any time due to unpredictable weather conditions. It’s therefore important to not be completely reliant on being able to ride it up or down, even if you’ve already checked whether it’s open.
  • It is absolutely essential that you allow for enough time to ascend and descend the mountain before dark. You should therefore factor in enough time for a stop at the summit to enjoy a rest break and some refreshments. As well as some time to celebrate and enjoy the accomplishment of reaching the top of the iconic Table Mountain.
  • If you do intend on taking the Cableway down, make sure that it is operating on the day. And that you leave yourself enough time to hike down before sunset if need be and the Cableway is in fact not operating on that specific day.
  • Hike with someone who is familiar with the route or use a recent map or guidebook in order to ensure you don’t get lost and stranded along the way. Alternatively consult someone who has personally climbed the route. That way you can get some great insider tips, tricks and information from someone that has experienced it all before.
  • Never stray off the designated routes, take short cuts or enter unknown ravines as you never know what you might find. As much as hiking Table Mountain is thrilling, beautiful and exciting, it is also very easy to get lost and find yourself in a situation you don’t want to be in.
  • Take note of signs that warn of danger ahead! And most importantly, DON’T ignore them!
  • Always ensure that someone knows exactly which route you intend on taking and when you expect to return (do not deviate from this plan).
  • Be observant and mindful of changes in the weather and turn back if bad weather threatens, or if you’re battling on the chosen route. Don’t just push through for the sake of trying to make it to the top. You never know if and when things can take a turn for the worst.
  • In an emergency, find a spot that offers some form of shelter from the wind. Never try to continue climbing in the dark or in heavy mist.
  • If you get lost, retrace your steps. If you can’t find your original path, move down broad, open slopes.
  • In addition to keeping all these important guidelines and tips in mind, remember to have fun and enjoy the adventure, spectacular scenery, sensational views and secret spots and hidden gems along the way! Hiking up the gentle giant of the Mother City skyline and one of the New7Wonders of Nature is one of the most incredible bucket-list worthy Cape Town experiences after all.

However, whether you choose to hike to the summit or take an Aerial Cable Way ride to the top, one thing is for certain, there is no view quite like it!

THINGS TO DO AT THE TOP

Table Mountain: The ultimate guide - Secret Cape Town

Whether you choose to make your way to the top of Table Mountain via an exciting Aerial Cableway ride or thrilling hiking adventure. This Cape Town mountainous giant has a few amazing experiences and activities waiting for you at the summit. Here are just a few of the amazing things you can do, see and experience at the top of Table Mountain:

  • Table Mountain Café: The Table Mountain Café located at the top of Table Mountain is a self-service restaurant offering a range of food and drinks, snacks, desserts and wines. All of which can be savoured and enjoyed while 1 089 metres above Cape Town. Paired with sensational panoramic views, there truly is nothing quite like it.
  • Table Mountain Shop at the Top: If you’d like an amazing reminder of your iconic Table Mountain experience, Shop at the Top is an incredible gift and curio shop. Located in a National Heritage stone building right next to the Table Mountain Café, Shop at the Top boasts a wide variety of gifts and curious to choose from. You’ll most definitely find the perfect gift for yourself, friends or family. Thereby giving you the very best reminder of your visit to the highest point in Cape Town.
  • Sit back, relax & enjoy the view: There is absolutely no denying the fact that the top of the iconic Table Mountain boasts one of the most breath-takingly beautiful panoramic views in the entire city. The top of one of the New7Wonders of Nature, Table Mountain, is therefore without a doubt the very best spot in the city to just sit back, relax and soak up every second of the spectacular views and unforgettable experience. Boasting commanding 360-degree views of Cape Town, Table Bay, the Atlantic Ocean, the nearby peaks of the surrounding mountains and the rest of the Table Mountain National Park. There truly is no view quite like it!
  • Join a Guided Hike: If you’re looking to explore the top of this magnificent Cape Town natural wonder a little further with an expert guide by your side, joining a Table Mountain Guided hike is a great idea!  These thirty-minute guided tours happen on the hour from 09:00 to 15:00 daily. Departing from the Twelve Apostles Terrace just below the Table Mountain Café. All these guided hikes are free, family-friendly walks conducted by their knowledgeable and experienced staff. Who will not only guide you through some of the most beautiful parts the top of Table mountain has to offer. But, share the story of Table Mountain and the Cableway, as well as provide any assistance you may require.
  • Go for a hike: If you’re looking to add a bit more adventure, discovery and thrill to your Table Mountain experience. Why not explore the summit of this iconic flat-topped mountain a little further by going on another hiking adventure? Well, that’s if you have some more energy and fuel left in your hiking tank of course! There are three signposted walks you can enjoy at the top of Table Mountain. The 15-minute Dassie Walk has spectacular views to the north, west and south. The popular 30-minute Agama Walk provides visitors with spectacular 360° views of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula. The longer Klipspringer Walk takes you along the edge of the plateau and ends above Platteklip Gorge. There is also a wheelchair route available. Table Mountain is part of a World Heritage Site, an important part of the Cape Floristic Region and the single richest floristic area in the world. You will therefore encounter a lot of fynbos vegetation on the mountain, with over 1 460 different species of plants. There are also plenty of dassies, lizards, insects and birdlife to be seen. Making for quite an exciting Table Mountain hiking adventure!
  • Visit the Wi-Fi Lounge: Recharge and refuel at the Table Mountain hotspot at the top. Make their Wi-Fi Lounge your office for the day with the best free Wi-Fi or grab a delicious treat and beverage to enjoy while you share your Table Mountain snaps with family and friends. Run out of battery life? No problem! They’ve got several plug points and USB points to recharge your mobile devices.
  • Enjoy an Audio Tour: Discover the stories and legends of Table Mountain or experience the top of Table Mountain like you never have before with their two free audio tours. Download the free VoiceMap application to your mobile device using their free Wi-Fi, plug in your earphones and begin your self-guided tour at the Lower or Upper Cable Station. The first audio tour is called Lower Cableway Station Audio Guide: In-Queue Entertainment, and the second one is titled Upper Cableway Station Audio Guide: Tabletop Walking Tour. It truly is a very enjoyable and enriching experience.
  • Watch a magical Table Mountain sunset: Sit back, relax & soak up every glorious second of watching a magical Table Mountain sunset at any of their incredible vantage or viewpoints. The top of Table Mountain is undoubtedly known as one of the most magnificent sunset spots in the entire city. For obvious reasons of course! And now you get to experience every magical second of it first-hand – it truly is a bucket-list worthy experience that should be on everyone’s Cape Town bucket-lists.In addition, the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway also offers guests incredible Special Offers where you can take advantage of their half-price Sunset Special Table Mountain Aerial Cableway rides.
  • Have a Table Mountain picnic and some sundowners: If you are hiking up Table Mountain, the five dams at the top make for great spots to enjoy and amazing picnic. If you head over to the Woodhead Dam, which was completed in 1897, you can even visit the quaint little Waterworks Museum. Which houses various items, including an old locomotive that was used during the construction of the dam. Thereby giving you the opportunity to experience a bit of Table Mountain history too. Besides the dams, the top of Table Mountain boasts a large variety of incredible picnic spots, paired with a few sundowners and the most magnificent panoramic views, it’s pure bliss!
  • Abseil off Table Mountain: For the more adventurous souls and dare devils at heart, you can also choose to tick an unforgettable Cape Town bucket-list adventure off your list by abseiling down the cliff face of the all-mighty Table Mountain. Now if that doesn’t get your heart racing and adrenalin juices flowing, we’re not sure what will!

TRANSPORT OPTIONS

Besides making use of your own car or renting a car, Cape Town has several modes of public transport that can get you to and from Table Mountain’s Lower Cable Station for a morning or afternoon on the summit. Making use of the various public transport options available is arguably the best way of getting to the mountain. Some the options include:

  • The MyCiti Bus & Free Shuttle Services: The MyCiti Bus is a free shuttle service that is very convenient and reliable for getting to and from variousCape Town landmarks and attractions. Including Table Mountain. Take the MyCiti shuttle service from the Lower Tafelberg Road stop, just off Kloof Nek Road, to the Upper Tafelberg Road stop at the Lower Cable station. The biggest advantage of taking the MyCiti Bus service is the fact that it stops right outside the Lower Table Mountain Cableway Station. However, the MyCiti bus route that runs from the V&A Waterfront to Camps Bay stops at the top of Kloof Nek Road (route number 106 and 107, Waterfront Silo / Civic Centre / Camps Bay). Hop off there and take the free MyCiti shuttle service (route 110) that runs from Kloof Nek Road, up Tafelberg Road and right to the Lower Cableway Station.
  • City Sightseeing Hop-on-Hop-off Bus: The famous City Sightseeing Hop-on-Hop-off Bus, also known as the famous Red Bus Tour, is undoubtedly one of the best ways to travel to many of Cape Town’s top attractions, sites and landmarks. It’s convenient, quick, easy and a whole lot of fun too. This “hop-on, hop-off” service runs every 20 minutes and stops at some of Cape Town’s major tourist attractions. Including Table Mountain. You can purchase a one-day ticket for the Red City Tour, which will take you to Table Mountain Cableway, the V&A Waterfront, Camps Bay and around the city centre. There is a total of 17 stops on this tour. Adults pay R110 per ticket if purchased online (www.citysightseeing.co.za) or R120 if bought on the bus (these tickets are valid only on the day of purchase). Youngsters between the ages of five and 15 pay R60. Kids younger than five travel free, with a maximum of two children under five accompanying a paying adult. You can also get your Table Mountain cable car tickets directly from their offices or bus drivers if you wish to enjoy an exciting trip to the top of Table Mountain via the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway.
  • Classic One-day ticket: R220
  • Premier Two-day ticket: R320
  • Meter Taxis: There is a large variety of meter taxis available for hire across the city centre.  Metered taxis have designated waiting points at Kloof Nek and on Tafelberg Road near the Lower Table Mountain Cable Station, but you can also order one via telephone to pick you up directly from wherever you are. Or you can choose to flag one down on the road too. The meter taxis generally charge per kilometre. Which can vary from R10 to R20 per kilometre. But, here’s a little insider tip – you can negotiate a price with some drivers. It is also a good idea to ask for an estimate before you get in. That way you always know exactly what you’re in for and there are no surprises at the end. Some popular Cape Town Meter Taxi companies include:
  • Rikkis Taxis: 0861 745 547
  • Marine Taxis: 0861 434 0 434
  • Excite Taxis: 021 448 4444
  • Uber: Uber is always a reliable, easy and convenient way to get around the city of Cape Town especially if you have the Uber App installed on your phone.It’s therefore no surprise that it has become one of the most popular public transport options for getting around in the Mother City.Thereby making Uber a great transport option for both locals and tourists to get to Table Mountain.
  • Camps Bay Bus: The Camps Bay Bus is another great Cape Town public transport option to get you to and from Table Mountain.The Camps Bay bus departs from Adderley Street outside the Golden Acre in the Cape Town city-centre. And will drop you off on Kloof Nek Road. Thereby leaving you with a bit of an uphill walk of about 1.5km to the Lower Cable Station. And although this option may require you to put in a bit of hiking effort to reach the Lower Table Mountain Cableway station, it will most definitely be well worth the exercise. Trust us!

DIRECTIONS TO GET TO TABLE MOUNTAIN

Table Mountain Hike

Directions

The Lower Table Mountain Cableway Station is on Tafelberg Road, off Kloof Nek Road. Which is approximately a 15-minute drive from the city centre. Just before turning left onto Tafelberg Road, look out for a digital signboard on your right, which indicates whether the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway station is open or closed. Be on the lookout for directional boards as you come into the city centre on major routes. While many people drive to the Lower Cable Station and park along Tafelberg Road, you can also make use of the variety of public transport options available to you.

Parking

You will find free parking along Tafelberg Road, before and after the Lower Table Mountain Cableway Station. Tafelberg Road is steep and winds up to the Lower Cable Station. Which is about 1.5km from the Kloof Nek Road turn into Tafelberg Road. There you will find a traffic circle in front of the Lower Cable Station building. Making it easier for tour buses to drop off visitors.

Wheelchair Access

Table Mountain welcomes visitors from all around the world with open arms. Thereby priding themselves on being as wheelchair friendly as possible. The Cableway therefore makes optimal effort to ensure the mountain is accessible to all their visitors. You will therefore find lift access to the cable car, a pathway system at the upper station, disabled toilets as well as disabled parking available. Take a look at their wheelchair map for more information on all their wheelchair accessible routes and areas.