Things to do in Cape Town: Hike Table Mountain

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Table Mountain may well be one of the most iconic landmarks in Cape Town, South Africa. It’s a flat-topped mountain that provides stunning views over Cape Town. It is 1,089 meters high and a popular tourist attraction. Depending on your fitness level, you can take the cable car or you can hike up and/or down.

Hiking Table Mountain was one of my favourite things to do in Cape Town. Although I have to admit… I was cursing the hike and the mountain at times when we got bitten by a million ants and the sun was scorching hot.

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Hike Table Mountain

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If you’re up for some fun or looking for a workout, ditch the cable car and put on your walking shoes! After you’ve hiked up all the way to the top, you’ll really appreciate the views you get over Cape Town.

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I wanted to share some tips and photos with you to make the most of your hike.

If you enjoyed the Tabel Mountain hike, why not hike Lion’s Head, too!?

 

Which route to take up Table Mountain?

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We took the Platteklip Gorge route which is the most direct but also most challenging one. The sign at the bottom of the trail says it should take more or less 2.5 hours. It took us a little under two hours with regular breaks for water and photos (and to curse whoever had the idea of doing this hike… probably myself). Our pace was quite strong and we overtook a few people on the way.

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The trail starts to the left of the lower Cable Car station, a bit up the road. The beginning of the trail may have been the worst because after a few metres we started getting attacked by vicious ants. Despite wearing long leggings, they managed to bite me. They easily got into my trainers, my socks, the little bit of skin between my leggings and socks. You tried shaking them off but a few metres later, there was another trail of them. The only thing to do is power through the first bit of the trail as quickly as possible (or really cover up your legs and feet!).

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It’s a winding path that sometimes requires climbing small rocks. As you reach the gorge, you start walking into mist and it starts getting a bit chilly. Probably a welcome cool-down after the first part of the hike in the sun. The views and the surroundings are wonderful, make sure to take breaks and marvel at what’s around you.

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Once you’ve passed through the gorge, you’ve reached your destination!

 

What to expect up top…

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There is a shop and cafe on the top. Fill up your water bottles and rehydrate after your hike up.

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Hike along some of the different trails on top and discover different views over Cape Town. It’s amazing seeing the clouds and fog play around in the sky.

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You can choose to take the Cable Car down which we did. During peak times, you can expect queues to buy tickets and to get on the car. You skip the ticket buying queue by buying it online in advance. They have free wifi if you want to add your achievement to your Instagram story

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Come prepared

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Make sure to check weather forecasts as you’d want to have blue skies when you’re up top for the best views. Dress appropriately: We were roasting hot at the beginning of our hike but as we moved closer to the top and in between the mountain, it got really chilly. Summer temperatures range between 15°C and 27°C, while Cape Town winters average between 7°C and 20°C.

We left around lunch because that’s when it started to clear up after a cloudy morning. However, that also meant we were exposed to the hot midday sun. Avoid this by going earlier or later in the day.

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Wear sunscreen and bring lots of water, maybe also a few snacks. Wear good walking shoes – it’s not always easy terrain. Spray yourselves with mosquito repellent.

 

Best time to hike Table Mountain

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In summer, avoid leaving between 11 am and 3pm. In winter, any time is alright. Visitor peak times are in the middle of the day so consider that when planning your hike as well.

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A good idea is also to watch sunrise and sunset from Table Mountain. During summer, the sun rises from around 5.30 am and sets as late as 8.00 pm. In winter, it rises as late as 7.50 am and sets as early as 5.45 pm. The weather app on your phone should tell you more.

Make sure to check the Cable Car operating times if you want to take the car down.

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Ready to hike Table Mountain and have some fun?

Interested in wildlife? You can swim with penguins on Boulders Beach!

More ideas for how to spend two weeks in Cape Town…

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