South Africa is one of the best countries in the world to visit for vacation. Filled with a vibrant culture, it is a destination you don’t want to miss. From the world-class wine, the fantastic surfing, and the penguins (yes, tropical penguins do exist!) South Africa has something for everyone.
Of course, no visit to South Africa can be complete without a stop in Cape Town, one of the country’s three capitals. Located near the southern tip of the country, near Table Bay, Cape Town is South Africa’s oldest city. It is home to a gorgeous variety of flora and fauna, as well as the unique mountain formations known as Lion’s Head and Table Mountain.
One of the most iconic images from Cape Town is Table Mountain. It is a natural rock formation that sits at the northern end of the mountain range, which edges the peninsula on which Cape Town was built. It became famous because of the natural flat-top summit, giving the mountain a table-like look. This intriguing image of the mountain attracted attention from Cape Town’s earliest settlers, and still sees hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Accessing the Summit
There is a cable car available to bring visitors to and from the summit. There are also over 350 hiking trails of various difficulty that can be found throughout the mountain. While convenient, the cable car does not run in all weather, and can close at any time without notice. Those that choose to hike up to the summit and plan to take the cable car back down should be prepared to hike both ways, just in case the cable car has to shut down.
Hiking – What You Need To Know
Table Mountain is considered a national park, and, as such, all rules and regulations that govern a national park should be followed, including, but not limited to, avoiding fires and matches, littering, and touching the wildlife. Although the national park is close to a metropolitan city, it is still a natural environment with untamed animals, and should be respected as such.
Some of the easier trails to hike are the Constantiaberg, the Silvermine, or the Cape of Good Hope, among others. Some of the more difficult trails are the Platteklip Gorge, the Nursery Ravine, and the Skeleton Gorge. Regardless of your hiking skills, you should always hike with at least one other person, and never leave a person behind, no matter their individual pace or skill level.
Finally, when preparing to hike through Table Mountain National Park, always remember to wear hiking boots and bring lots of water and sunscreen with you. Hiking on most of the trails is free, although some trails that go through conservation locations do require a small fee.
Things To Do On Table Mountain
Once you reach the top of the mountain, there is a Shop at the Top, where you can purchase souvenirs to commemorate your arrival at the summit, as well as a self-service restaurant, Table Mountain Cafe. There is also a Wi-Fi lounge, with internet access and charging stations for your electronic devices.
There are three unique walking trails that allow visitors to further explore the table-top summit. These are easily marked and can be traversed by hikers of all levels. There are also guided tours of the summit, departing from the Twelve Apostles Terrace (right below the Cafe), daily, from 9am to 3pm, on the hour. These tours will provide you with more information about the mountain and the cable car, and will provide any assistance required.
Why Hike Table Mountain?
Table Mountain is part of an UNESCO World Heritage site. If you decide to experience it yourself, you’ll see why. The mountain is home to over 3,500 different plants and flowers, with over 70% of them unique to the Table Mountain region. It is considered to be the single-richest floral region in the world. You could also see some interesting animals, such as caracals, rock hyraxes, and chacma baboons.
The views from the top of Table Mountain are also breathtaking. The three summit trails offer you a variety of vantages to look out over Cape Town. One trail, the Agama Walk, will give you a 360 degree view of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula.
Although hiking to the summit is a bit more strenuous than the mountain-top trails, due to some vertical climbing, hiking Table Mountain is a life-changing experience that shouldn’t be missed. It is one of many hiking experiences throughout the world that will give visitors a new and unique perspective on life.
Christine is an assistant for TripFuser and enjoys traveling during her spare time among other things.