Sitting on the summit of Table Mountain
Table Mountain is the flat-topped mountain forming a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town, South Africa. It is a significant tourist attraction, with many visitors using the cableway or hiking to the top. The mountain forms part of the Table Mountain National Park. The view from the top of Table Mountain has been described as one of the most epic views in Africa. For this reason, I made a point of taking Justin to the top of this mountain while we were in Cape Town. I already did this hike several times while I lived in SA.
Start of Platteklip Gorge hike
Platteklip means “flat stone” in Afrikaans.
On Justin’s first visit here in 2010, we experienced mostly windy days so the cableway was not an option. Be that as it may, we had plenty of time for sightseeing after our wedding so we decided to hike up Table Mountain. It may sound odd to say that this was “a date”, but we love to do things alone and hiking makes us feel close to each other, and nature. This is one of the ways that we bond. We invited people along but when no one could make it, we thought that this would be some good alone time.
The hike started out steep, and because the sun was high, we were sweaty from the start! A huge motivator while you are climbing, is knowing that after the hard work is done you will get to stand on the infamous Table Mountain top.
With our lack of exercise after the past few months, we have not been feeling as fit as we used to be. Hopefully we can get back on track soon, however on this particular day we felt the affects of our recent slacking, or umm, wedding preparations and travel, I should say.
There are a number of times where the path forks, but there are signs showing the way so no guesswork is needed.
If you decide that you would like to give the Cableway a miss in favour of a hike to the top of the mountain, do not be misled by the 3km distance from bottom to top. The distance may sound short, but the hike is a physically demanding “moderate to tough” route that takes between one and three or more hours to complete.
On this day I was setting the pace for Justin and I.
The path is rocky but well set out so there is no question about where to go. We saw a few families doing this hike, and it made us smile and think of us doing this hike with our kids on a vacation in South Africa in the future. #daydreaming
“Burning muscles”… I think I was going too fast for Justin.
As you can see above, he was pleading for me to slow down. Little did he know that I was hurting too. Justin didn’t hike much before we met, and now we have hiked in multiple countries.
I’m so proud of my Texas boy!!
The view behind us
The view above us.
At this point the hike gets pretty steep so the path zig-zags the rest of the way up.
The boulders get bigger as you get closer to the top.
A flower from my love.
This is where the hike gets really tough.
Ha! Just kidding. We were playing around here.
I couldn’t possibly get any further than where you see me.
The final section of the path heads straight up and onto the summit. Fortunately, by this time we had been in the shade for a while so we were able to cool off slightly.
A map of the summit
At 1010m above sea level, we reached the summit of Table Mountain in less than 2 hours, and we were happy to be there. The view from where we stood was mostly of the back of the mountain, so we had to walk a further 15 minutes to see the view of the city from the Cable Car area.
After all the climbing, this walk is very peaceful… not to mention breathtakingly beautiful!
To our left we could see the coastline leading towards Cape Point.
Table Mountain is proud to be one of the official New7Wonders of Nature. Competing against major international attractions, Table Mountain made it to the top seven after a campaign that attracted more than 100-million global votes.
The New7Wonders of Nature are:
The Amazon, South America
Iguazu Falls, Argentina, Brazil
Jeju Island, South Korea
Puerto Princess Underground River, Philippines
Table Mountain, South Africa
Justin and I have been to Ha Long Bay, Jeju Island, and now Table Mountain too.
I wonder what we will have the opportunity to see next?
Lion’s Head seen from Table Mountain
There were a few men abseiling from the mountain just below the cable car.
If you look closely, you can see them in the picture above.
We found this bible verse on one of the rocks near the cafe.
Sea Point and Bantry Bay
We did it!!!
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company has been operating since October 4, 1929.
Trying to find shade
The sun was bright on top of the mountain as their is little to no shade except for inside the cafe and the souvenir store. We tried to get a glimpse of the view from every side of the mountain.
Some impressive facts about the Table Mountain Cableway:
The Cableway has transported over 20-million people to the summit of Table Mountain.
Each of the two cable cars can carry 65 people.
More than 800 people can enjoy the trip every hour.
The floor of the circular cabin rotates to allow travellers 360 degree views.
The cable cars’ circular shape ensures excellent aerodynamics and stability.
Approximately 800 000 visitors from all over the world use the Cableway annually.
The cable cars travel at a maximum speed of 10m per second.
The cable cars take four to five minutes to reach the top of the mountain.
There are only two other such cable cars in the world; one in Titlis, Switzerland,
and the other in Palm Springs, USA
The island you see in the picture above is Robben Island (where Nelson Mandela was formerly imprisoned).
View of the mountain from across the bay
As you can see above, the main feature of Table Mountain is the level plateau approximately 3km (2 miles) from side to side, edged by impressive cliffs. The plateau, flanked by Devil’s Peak to the east and by Lion’s Head to the west, forms a dramatic backdrop to Cape Town. This broad sweep of mountains heights, together with Signal Hill, forms the natural amphitheatre of the “city bowl” and Table Bay harbour.
The “City Bowl” ~ (Source of image)
We had packed a picnic to be enjoyed when we got to the summit. This seemed like a perfect spot to sit, take in the view, and enjoy some snacks. We lay down and soaked up some sun but being slightly breezy up there, I started to get cold. Thankfully, the weather was as good as it was. I had never been on the mountain in bad weather, but I have heard that it can be terrible.
Healthy snacks to fuel us on our hike.
Right on the edge!
This is roughly a third of the people waiting in line to use the Cableway. Although they probably wouldn’t have to wait too long if 800 people travel on the cableway every hour! We still had an hour of downhill hiking ahead of us.
We filled all of our bottles and then headed to the souvenir shop to look around.
The Table Mountain Cafe is next to the souvenir shop, which has a very fitting name,
“Shop on the Top”.
“Shop on the Top”.
We absolutely have to get this “Picture-Word” book for our children one day! They need to know what mommy means when she says words like koeksister, bakkie, mielie, or braai.
The view from the back of the mountain is just as beautiful as the front, and for completely different reasons. We walked around for a little bit longer, taking in all that we could.
View to the south: In this direction one can see The Twelve Apostles.
The mountain’s vegetation types form part of the Cape Floral Region protected areas. These protected areas are a World Heritage Site, and an estimated 2,200 species of plants are confined to Table mountain – more than exist in the whole of the Unite Kingdom. Many of these species, including a great many types of Proteas, are endemic to Table Mountain and can be found nowhere else.
King Protea ~ almost open
This is the South African National Flower.
King Protea ~ Fully open
When we had made it back to the top of Platteklip Gorge, we could still see people coming up to the top via the gorge. Apparently most of them planned on taking the cableway down. Next time we come, we would like to stay on the summit for the sunset, and then take a cable car down to the road. However, we were not done yet and we wanted to do the full hike, so we started making our way down using a whole different set of muscles.
Down we go
The sun was barely in the gorge at all so we got to enjoy the cool breeze instead.
Even going down has it’s strain on your legs. In fact, for me it felt worse.
We made it to the road in 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Another amazing feat accomplished!!!!
That same day, our good friends Clinton and Catherine had invited us over to watch rugby, braai, hookah, and relax at their place. When we got home, we realised that we felt fine so we headed over there.
The pain only set in about a day or two later.
We refer to hiking muscle aches on a scale related to the pain that we felt after climbing Tai Shan in China, in October 2011. That pain was so unbearable that two days later, it was hard to get up the stairs at school without letting out whimpering sounds on each step. If you missed that, read more it at these links:
We hope that this blog post inspires you to hike Table Mountain, or at least take a trip to the top via the Cableway. During summer there is a great Sunset Special, on your birthday you get a free ride, and from May to October kids travel for free with a full paying adult.
You won’t regret it!