It was a perfect day in a month of October. Me and some friends opted to hike to the top of Table Mountain in an early morning. We actually intended to hike during sunset. Unfortunately, the so-called “tablecloth” was an obstacle. Its a layer of clouds that usually appear on top of Table Mountain every late afternoon. After given an advice by one of the staff at the hostel, we decided to do it before midday. Hiking during sunset was too dangerous since we could get lost and a risk of hypothermia while at the summit.
The cableway is no doubt the easiest way to get to the summit (for the lazy people:D). We decided to take it on the way down just to spare our knees.
I have been told by a local that there are countless paths that could lead me to the top of the mountain. It’s either a hike or a climb, depending on the route. We all chosed the Platteklip Gorge. It was a moderate hike in terms of difficulty level, most popular and most direct route. The walk from the starting point to the top lasted for two and a half hours. The route has a well-constructed path all the way.
Other popular routes are the “Skeleton Gorge” which involves climbing up ladders & through shady forest, and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. The longest one and often used as the downward route would be the “Nursery Ravine”.
While on top….
It’s true that animal life exists up there. The mountain is home to lizards (the only one we saw during our hike), mongoose, porcupines and snakes as well as Rose’s ghost frog/Table Mountain ghost frog. Supposedly a common mammal would be rock hyrax or the dassie, which are declining rapidly. As for the flora, the most common is the highly endemic fynbos (delicate bush). It is a scrubby vegetation that is particular to the Cape and is abundant on the mountain slopes.
The plateau of the mountain is flat and easy to get around. The views are different from every angle. All of them were absolutely breathtaking. We also walked the back part of the mountain, which gave us a different perspective. The whole scenery is extremely beautiful and it kind of reminded me of one of those scenes in Game of Thrones.
I nearly forgot to mention that the top cableway station also has a restaurant and a souvenir shop. This area is too crowded in my opnion. Dehydrated, we filled our emtpy bottles with water and had lunch on Table Mountain Cafe. And after a little bit of shopping for postcards & fridge magnets, we took the cableway down. Ending the day by relaxing back at the hostel.
Table mountain (1088m) is one of the most famous landmarks on the planet. Standing as a great vertical escarpment overlooking Cape Town. Extending its seemingly protective flanks in the form of Lion’s Head on one side and Devil’s Peak on the other, to cradle the city at the very tip of Africa and giving a panoramic picture of incomparable beauty. So stunning this perfect mountain in this perfect setting that it has been voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature.
Without the mountain, Cape Town would have simply not exist as we know it. Her presence dictates the city’s climate, which in turn makes Table Mountain a unique and exceptional floral paradise. She dominates the city skyline just as does the Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro & the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Some interesting facts:
- The first horse ridden to the top of the mountain was in 1798.
- In 1955, a return cableway ticket cost only R1 for adults and 50c for children.
- The speed record for running Platteklip Gorge is 27 minutes up and 11 minutes down.
- Its possible to see 200km to the Cedeberg mountains from the summit on a clear day.
- The front of Table Mountain was first illuminated in 1947 during the visit by Britain’s Royal family.
- Around 70% of the plants found on the mountain are endemic.
- The rocks are over 600 million years old, making it one of the oldest mountains in the world.
What to bring during the trek
- A light fleece.
- A good pair of hiking shoes.
- A waterproof top.
- Head torch.
- A hat and sunscreen.
Table Mountain is not as friendly and docile as it looks from a distance. It is relatively huge and demands respect and proper experience and preparation.