Towering 1, 085 metres above the city, Table Mountain dominates the skyline of Cape Town. The mountain is so named due to its 3-kilometre long flat top with edges that fall steeply down, the shape of which closely resembles a table.
In instances when the mountain is covered by clouds, it’s sometimes referred to as the ‘table cloth’ as well.
Table Mountain is part of the Table Mountain National Park, including the Cape of Good Hope, which you can visit on a Cape Peninsula road-trip.
In fact, Table Mountain was even designated one of the new 7 wonders of nature in 2007! It’s one of the oldest mountains in the world, with rocks that are over 600 million years old. The flora and fauna on the mountain are also worth a mention, with more than 70% of the plants found on the slopes being endemic in nature. This means that they won’t be found anywhere else in the world!
The mountain is often shrouded in thick clouds so if you happen to have a day with clear azure blue skies – there’s no time to waste!
The most popular way to ascend Table Mountain is via cable car. Do book your tickets online on their website; a return trip costs R360 (~SGD29) for adults and R180 (~SGD14) for children. One-way trips are also available should you wish to take the cable car up and hike down after.
The queue for the cable car can get tremendously long during summer and just before sunset, so do buy your tickets in advance and plan your time accordingly.
Going up the mountain in the cable car is an experience in itself; each cable car takes up to 65 passengers per trip. Try to snag a spot at the side, as the cable cars have glass-less ‘windows’ and will revolve to allow passengers to soak in a 360-degree view of the surroundings.
Alternatively, you can hike up the mountain as well. However, do be warned that the hike is no walk in the park! A popular route is via the Platteklip Gorge, which will take you anywhere between 1 to 3 hours to get to the top – depending on individual fitness level. The climb is steep and strenuous but the views at the top will make the climb more than worth it!
Other hiking routes include the Skeleton Gorge that goes through an indigenous forest, or the Nursery Ravine, which is popular among hikers for descending from Table Mountain back to Cape Town.
At the summit, be rewarded with simply spectacular views! You’ll be able to enjoy views of the pointy Lion’s Head, Table Bay, Cape Town, the Atlantic Ocean and Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was jailed for 18 years.
The summit itself is flat and easy to walk on – but of course, what else would you expect from a table-shaped mountain?
You can also take your pick from 4 hiking trails – the Table Mountain Trail, Top to Tip Trail, Orangekloof Hiking Trail and People’s Trail. Along the way, you might even be lucky enough to encounter a few cute Rock Hyraxes – or ‘Dassies’, as locals affectionately call them – a small mammal that resembles a large guinea pig.
Fuel up at the restaurant, grab a few keepsakes at the souvenir shops, or treat yourself to an ice cream from the shop located inside a converted cable car.
Once you’ve done soaking in the views, either take the cable car or hike back down to Cape Town. It’s up to you!
It’s easy to get to the Table Mountain cable-car station, simply hop onto the City Sightseeing Red Bus which will whisk you there in no time. Parking can get rather congested during peak seasons so it might be best not to drive.
If you’re still intending to drive, you can park it at the carpark located at the bottom of Tafelberg Road. Next, hop onto the MyCiti rapid bus service shuttle to the cable car station. This bus service is entirely free of charge!
The views from Table Mountain are breathtaking but as previously mentioned, you should wait for a day with clear skies to make the most out of your trip.
Do check the official website for weather updates before you make a decision. The cable car also might not be functioning in the case of inclement weather – something that will also be updated on the official website.