Hiking Up The Beautiful Table Mountain In South Africa Via Platteklip Gorge

The Magnificent Table Mountain From My Hotel Room

The Magnificent Table Mountain From My Hotel Room

We have always been impressed by mighty mountains. When in our hometown, escaping to the Himalayan regions whenever possible is something we love. So it was no wonder a Table Mountain hike was in the plans while visiting the South African legislative capital of Cape Town. We were there for the Wikimedia Foundation’s annual conference, Wikimania, and four of us planned to hike the mountain. One of us had the plan of doing it both ways and the rest decided to hike up and come down by the cable car.

From lower cable station towards Platteklip Gorge starting point

From lower cable station towards Platteklip Gorge starting point

Tip: If you, like us, want to come down by the cable car, make sure it is running before starting your hike. Although doing both ways is absolutely achievable, it won’t be a good idea to make the plans after you reach the top, thinking you would go down luxuriously using the cable car. Like we had to prepone our plans as they were closing down for annual maintenance for two weeks.

Looking up to the mighty mountain

Looking up to the mighty mountain

The first thing we had to decide on was which route we would be taking. There is the India Venster and Kloof Corner routes, both of which needs scrambling for a part of the hike and also use chains to negotiate rock walls. These need guides, and, as we were not sure of the schedule, these were not appropriate for us. Also there is the Skeleton Gorge route, which unfortunately takes more time. The long and challenging Hiddingh Ascension was also not possible for us. So it had to be the oldest and most direct route to the summit via the Platteklip Gorge. 2.5 to 3 hours was perfect for us.

We wanted to start early, but the group started to grow and finally we started the ascent as a team of 14 around 11 AM. For most of us it was the first hike for a summit and we were continuously encouraging each other. A short walk from the Lower Cable Car Station brought us to the start of the Platteklip Gorge route. There is a visitor information centre and a board with all the details written, where the route starts.

The beginning of the route

The beginning of the route

The whole route is full of steps made with rocks. So its like climbing the stairs to the top of a really tall building. Like almost to the top of Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the World with a height of 828 meters (You will climb approximately 704 meters which is the height between the lower and the upper cable car stations. If you want to cover the topmost part of the Table Mountain it would be 20 meters more). We started the ascent with loads of enthusiasm and within 10 minutes most of us were panting badly. Some even wanted to go back. Thankfully in the end all but one decided to continue. So we kept on climbing stairs after stairs, some normal, some steep and some even as high as our waist or chest. But there were smaller rocks and footholds around, so with a bit of help from both our hands those were managed easily.

The bigger steps with footholds

The bigger steps with footholds

We read this route is not the most scenic one and also less adventurous as there are no exposure to heights. But as a first timer on the Table Mountain we loved the view. Both looking up to the steep walls or down to see where we began gave us goosebumps.

The view as we climbed

The view as we climbed

I, being not someone to be called very fit, like many others, was panting badly, but managed somehow to climb higher and higher. Occasionally there would be people coming down, cheering, “You are already half way through!” (Only!!!) or “Almost there mate!” (Didn’t I hear something like that 10 minutes ago? And also half an hour ago before that???). All these took me to the starting of the gorge where the path meanders between two steep walls. And it is there, where I realised the problem of bringing less water. We started from our hotel rooms with water for four people as planned. But forgot to ask everybody else to take water when the group increased. The two bottles I was carrying were shared and long finished. I have a problem of getting dehydrated easily, and it was a real hot day. I suddenly felt a pain in my left cuff muscles and almost fell on a rock. The painful cramp made me nervous. I looked up to the top of the mountain and down to where we started. Both looked equally challenging at this stage. If only I didn’t forget to remind everyone about the water.

Looking down

Looking down

And up

And up

I sat there for almost five minutes, rubbing the cramp. Finally it seemed ok and I decided to continue. But with the very first step I realised it will still be hard to take normal steps. I literally have to drag my left foot up. Thankfully after 5-6 minutes it started to become normal. Also around that time a really really kind lady gave me some water to drink. She is a real angel. That helped me a lot and I continued, albeit slowly, towards the top.

Lovely view of Cape Town and the sea below

Lovely view of Cape Town and the sea below

This part of the hike had no direct sunlight, as the two walls guard the trail. Also it was cooler with the winds coming from top through the narrow gorge. This is the most photogenic part of the hike too. With Few boulders and big rocks and the view below.

The Gorge becoming narrower

The Gorge becoming narrower

One last view of the city below

One last view of the city below

Before taking the last few steps

Before taking the last few steps

The last part is a narrow stair to reach the flat top of the table mountain. From here you can go either left or right. Continuing left is Maclear’s Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain. It is only 20 meters higher and 2kms away. So its a pretty flat walk. But as we had less time, we went right towards the cable car station. There is a steep and smooth rock here without steps. But there are chains for holding, to climb it easily. I met Bodhi from our team here, who was going down. Got a bottle of cold water from him and started to walk slowly, enjoying the beauty around, towards the cable car station. I, initially, thought it might take me about 4 hours. But was able to reach the top in little under 3 hours.

Reached the top

Reached the top

Tip: Make sure you have enough water. Start early and pace the trek as per your ability. It will be an enjoyable and easy trek.

At the top of the Table Mountain

At the top of the Table Mountain

12 thoughts on “Hiking Up The Beautiful Table Mountain In South Africa Via Platteklip Gorge

  1. Jithin

    Table top mountain trek is a must do thing in Cape Town. Heard about this trek from my friend earlier. But after reading this, I feel like going there. Thanks for sharing such an informative post.

  2. Anja

    Oh, not bringing water to the mountain is pretty irresponsible! Whenever we go hiking, I remind all my friends to bring some, as I too get dehydrated easily and always have my own bottle. The Table Mountain doesn’t look like anything I’ve seen (or hiked) before, and well worth the 3 hours hike up!

  3. Brianna

    I’ve heard that the hike up Table Mountain can be a bit challenging! But it looks like you had a successful, triumphant finish! I think I might give it a shot if I ever get to South Africa. I’ll just have to remember to bring extra water 🙂

  4. Renata

    South Africa is on my list, but that’s one of the countries I would not like to travel all by myself. Anyway, climbing the mountain sounds great but also very exhausting. I imagine it must be horrible once you find out that the funicular is not going and that the adventure – or rather exercise – still isn’t over. Been there….

  5. Mel

    I am a huge hiker and hiking up Table Mountain in Cape Town is definitely one high up on my bucket list. Thanks so much for the tips along the hike like when you get to the last part being a narrow stair to reach the flat top of the table mountain. This info is always good to know

  6. Lara Dunning

    This sounds like a must-do hike and I appreciate all the details and first-hand experiences in the post. Glad a fellow hiker shared her water with you, as that can make or break a hike, especially when you are going uphill and exerting yourself. I would definitely want to take a the tram one way, either down or up.

  7. Anna

    Wow what an incredible hike! I am very very jealous! Thank you for sharing as it is good to know there are routes that include scrambling even if you need a guide for them.

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