Mountains don’t come much more iconic than this: Nelson Mandela called it a ‘gift to the earth’, it takes pride of place on the official Cape Town flag and it has been standing proud in its spot by the sea longer than the Alps and Himalayas.
Table Mountain peaks at 1085 metres above sea level and is a thrilling climb, the views getting better and better with every glance behind as you make the trip up to the top. The ocean, Lion’s Head and the metropolis below all form part of the beautiful vista that awaits those who reach the top.
The unique conditions up there mean it is home to some animal species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world, the Table Mountain Ghost Frog for instance. Scampering around at the top are lots of dassies, a small mammal related, fascinatingly, to the elephant.
There is no shortage of routes to the top – in fact, there are 900 in all. One of the least strenuous for first-time visitors is the Smuts Track. Starting in the beautiful gardens of Kirstenbosch, this path takes in beautiful moss-covered rocks, streams and greenery on a 3.5 hour trip to the top.
Platteklip Gorge is an equally fantastic route, one which the original explorers took to the top of the Front Table. Devil’s Peak and Lion’s Head flank the mountain on either side of this way up as well as views of Robben Bay and Signal Hill stretching out beyond, and the flora on view is spectacular.
It is a popular destination and many people go up every day, but you should not underestimate Table Mountain – there have on occasion been deaths when climbers have tried to scale the hill unprepared. The hike can be tricky in places and the weather can change very quickly. Make sure you have some sturdy boots, a hat and some food for some energy if needed and you should be absolutely fine.
If in doubt about your hiking abilities, why not hire a guide to show you the way and point out the very best sights and sounds along the way. This will ensure you get the very best out of your experience in return for all that hard work put in. The physical exertion may sound daunting, but you really can’t say you’ve seen Cape Town until you’ve surveyed the city from the top of this wonder of nature.
For tired legs, there’s always the cable car on the way down!