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South Africa Travel

Tips for walking up Table Mountain

Posing with arms outstretched on Table Mountain

When in Cape Town, you absolutely have to visit Table Mountain – one of the new Seven Wonders of the World! Most people opt to get the Cable Car there and back but we prefer walking up Table Mountain to the summit and then getting the Cable Car down. It’s great exercise, plus it’s a beautiful walk. And when you get to the top, you feel really rewarded!

Table Mountain is part of Table Mountain National Park, which stretches from the north of Cape Town down the Cape Peninsula to the southerly Cape of Good Hope. It’s also home to unique flora called fynbos, which makes it the world’s sixth Floral Kingdom.

Choosing a route

There are a number of routes that you can choose to walk, however the most straightforward and easiest is Platteklip Gorge. Now… I say easiest but remember that Table Mountain is 1086 meters above Cape Town and this route is pretty much like climbing a million stairs made out of rock!

The start of Platteklip Gorge is around 1.5 km from the Cable Car entrance. We arrived in an Uber and they wouldn’t let the car drop us off at the start of the route so factor in that you may need to walk along the road to the route – just look for a wooden hut and the sign to mark the start.

Platteklip Gorge sign at the start of the route to climb Table Mountain

Other routes include Skeleton Gorge, Kasteelspoort and more. Choose your route depending on your fitness level and what type of hiking you like – for example, having to scramble, climb etc.

I’ve climbed Platteklip Gorge three times and it is difficult but totally achievable if you are relatively fit. How long it takes to reach the summit of Table Mountain depends on how fit you are, so it can take from 1.5 hours to 3.

Smiling whilst climbing up Table Mountain

We managed to reach the summit in just under 2 hours. There are lots of places to stop and sit and catch your breath – or just admire the beautiful scenery.

Is walking up Table Mountain safe?

The Platteklip Gorge route is very popular and you’ll encounter lots of other hikers on your walk. We did see people on their own, however this is not encouraged by Table Mountain National Park. If you have safety concerns, or you’re very new to hiking, you can join a guided hike. There are lots of companies who offer guides to join you or you can join a bigger, guided group.

What you should bring on the hike

South African summers are very hot and UV rays are typically very strong so if you’re walking up Table Mountain in Spring or Summer make sure that you have sunscreen and you may want to wear a hat. Appropriate footwear is also essential but hiking boots are not necessary – we walked up in trainers and it was absolutely fine.

A man walking up Table Mountain

Ensure that you have enough water with you as there is nowhere along the route to get any. As I sometimes have low blood sugar, I always take a little packet of sweets with me. There is a shop at the Cable Car station where you can purchase water and sweets. There is also a toilet so I recommend going before you start your walk.

The weather can change quite suddenly so be sure to have a warm top. When we walked up Table Mountain it was warm and sunny at the base but then very cloudy and cold at the top! We had checked the visibility beforehand so we were expecting some cloud.

Table Mountain Cable Car with cloud

At the top of Table Mountain

Once you reach the summit, it’s still a bit of a walk to the area where the shop, restaurant and Cable Car station is. Factor in some time to spend walking around the top of the mountain as there are lots of viewpoints to explore with beautiful views over Cape Town. If you’re interested in flora and fauna, you’ll love the uniqueness of the species you’ll find. You may even spot a Hyrax – or what we South Africans call a ‘dassie.’ They are super cute.

The view from Table Mountain

Tips for walking up Table Mountain

Here’s a few things I recommend before setting out on your walk up Table Mountain.

  • Check the Cable Car is open (if it’s not open, I’d advise not walking)
  • Have sunscreen, even if overcast
  • Make sure you have enough water
  • Bring a packet of sweets or energy bar
  • Wear appropriate shoes
  • Take a warm top (depending on the season) as the temperature at the top can be cold
  • Only hike in daylight
  • Take a photo of the emergency number on the sign at the start – or put it in your phone

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Tips for hiking up Table Mountain

Kirsty Marrins

Reader, writer, occasional runner, travel lover.



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