Rising 1 086 meters above sea level, Table Mountain is Cape Town’s most recognizable landmark. Table Mountain is more than just a representation of Cape Town; it’s also home to an immense amount of fauna and flora, native only to the area. The mountain’s abundance of biodiversity coupled with its one-of-a-kind landscape creates a truly rewarding hiking experience.
While most public parks and beaches may be closed, hiking through our national parks is a great way to keep the body active whilst spending leisure time with family this summer.
Robert van Zyl, a 71-year-old hiking enthuisiast, is testament to the magnetism that these hiking trails have.
“It was on New Year’s Day back in 2002 when Van Zyl completed his first hike up the mountain. This was the start of many return visits for him; in fact, he has hiked up Table Mountain 1000 times since that first climb.”
He explains that he has competed against fellow hikers in friendly races towards the top of the mountain, accomplishing personal best times for the Skeleton Gorge and Platteklip Gorge trails at 42 and 47 minutes, respectively. “I hope to motivate others to do the same. I am living proof that age is but a number and you can do anything that you put your mind to.”
Van Zyl reckons that his good health is as a result of his weekly hikes up the mountain. “What better way to stay healthy than enjoying all that we have to offer in Cape Town. After all, Table Mountain is the most beautiful, free open-air gym that’s situated right on our doorstep,” he adds.
As an annual Table Mountain Cableway cardholder, Van Zyl says that he thoroughly enjoys the trips down with the cable car after an intense hike. “At my age, it still takes me less than an hour to reach the summit. In the last 10 years, I mostly hike via Platteklip Gorge and save my knees the pounding of hiking back down by using the cableway.”
According to Wahida Parker, Managing Director of Table Mounatin Aerial Cableway Company (TMACC), the annual Cable Card provides the public with greater access to experience the mountain at their leisure. “Having a cable card affords hikers and nature enthusiasts with an opportunity to enjoy Table Mountain all year round. It is an affordable way to access the mountain. Cable card can be purchased as a single membership and is available for children under the age of 17 years. It also provides hikers with peace of mind knowing that there is always a safe way down.”
Parker encourages hikers to be observant and to follow rigorous safety precautions when hiking up Table Mountain. “It is important that hikers prepare and plan their trips up the mountain, as the weather can change very quickly. Never hike alone, dress warmly, carry water with you, and keep emergency numbers saved on your mobile phone.”
TMACC have also made sure that all Covid-19 safety protocols have been put in place to minimise the spread of the virus. According to Van Zyl he has felt extremely safe using the cableway to get down from the mountain. “My temperature is always checked and all health and safety protocols are being adhered to, which is great. The staff at the cableway are extremely friendly and continuously ensure that everyone practices social distancing.”
Top hiking trails on Table Mountain
The most well-known of these is the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail – almost a direct route up to the top of the mountain.
With its emerald ravine, lush jungle, and moss-covered slopes the Skeleton Gorge trail takes hikers through a nature wanderlust before reaching the highest point of the mountain, Maclears Beacon.
Other trails leading towards the summit include the India Venster hiking trail, which runs straight up the front of the mountain and right underneath the cable car route.
The longest route is the 12 Apostles trail and is popular amongst hikers who not only want to get to the top of Table Mountain but would like to enjoy the scenic journey too.
For more information on the how to plan your trip to one of Table Mountain’s various hiking trails, vist www.tablemountain.net