Table Mountain is to Cape Town what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris: more than just a tourist attraction, but an iconic and intrinsic part of the city’s identity. Voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2011, its famous flat-topped summit offers spectacular panoramic views of the cityscape and ocean beyond, and the lush reserve that surrounds it boasts one of the world’s richest floral kingdoms.
With numerous hiking trails winding their way around it, a view-drenched café at the summit, and the ever-present cable car ferrying passengers up and down day after day, year after year, Table Mountain is a veritable amusement park with something for everyone. In fact, there are many Cape Town locals who’ve yet to discover all this magnificent monument has to offer.
Below, we have listed our favourite things to do on Table Mountain. What’s yours? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
Fun fact Table Mountain could well be one of the oldest mountains in the world, as its formation is believed to have begun around 280 million years ago (long before that of the Himalayas). Of course, the rocks from which the mountain is formed are older still, dating back around 600 million years.
Important note Although the Cape is rich in natural beauty, tourists and locals alike are urged to take necessary precautions when exploring secluded areas, as crimes and accidents do happen.
Those venturing into the Table Mountain National Park should have the following emergency numbers on hand: 086 110 6417/ 107 or 021 480 7700. Criminal incidents should be reported to the nearest police station as soon as able.
We also recommend @safetymountain as a useful resource for hikers. This free safety tracking service allows you to notify local trackers of your contact details, intended route and travel time via whatsapp. You are then able to provide hourly updates on your progress, and to notify trackers when you are safely off the mountain.
Free guided walking tours
The splendid views from Table Mountain’s summit may be the main attraction, but the lesser-lauded details, such as the flora and fauna that abound, and the history that goes along with it, are things that make a visit that much richer. These free guided walking tours of Table Mountain include the services of a qualified tour guide with expert knowledge of the mountain’s geography, history and diversity of plant life.
It’s one thing to share Insta snaps of yourself against the backdrop of the Atlantic coastline; it’s quite another to be able to tell your Insta-family which plants on Table Mountain have healing properties…
Operating times Daily, 9am – 3pm (tours depart hourly)
Contact 021 424 0015, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Twelve Apostles Terrace, Table Mountain
Ride the Cable Car
A ride up our famous cable car is possibly one of the very best ways to experience Cape Town, and yet it’s still on the bucket list of many Capetonians, who have yet to experience the thrill. The very act of travelling from the foot of a mountain to its summit in the space of a few minutes is a marvel in itself. Throw in the spectacular panoramic views available from the summit, and it’s definitely an attraction worthy of its reputation.
Good to know Now is as good a time as any to take advantage of Cape Town’s iconic attractions, especially considering the specials on offer for the Table Mountain Cable Car.
Operating times 8am / 8.30am – 5pm / 6.30pm / 7pm (depending on season)
Cost From R190 to R330 (adults)
From R90 to R165 (children 4 – 17 years)
Free (children 0 – 4 years)
Where to find it Tafelberg Road off Kloof Nek Road, Cape Town
A literal high tea in Table Mountain’s Cableway Wi-Fi Lounge – which, as the name suggests, offers free wi-fi access from high up in the clouds. Also on offer, a selection of Twinings teas and other snacks, including peanut-butter-brownie cheesecake, lemon meringue tartlet, and chicken kebab rolls. You’ll also receive a glass of MCC on arrival.
Operating times Daily, 2.30pm – 5.30pm
Cost R325 (excludes cableway ticket)
Please note Maximum 20 guests per high tea seating
Contact 021 487 5726, email@example.com
Where to find it Cableway Wi-Fi Lounge, Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, Tafelberg Road
Yoga on the mountain
If you’re one of those people who leaves a yoga session feeling like you’re on top of the world, now you get to start one on top of the world. Courtesy of Belmond Mount Nelson, these classes allow you to completely transcend the chaos of the city.
Guests meet at the hotel, before being transported to the cableway station, so they can ride the cable car to the top. Following the yoga session, you can relax with a cup of tea and some snacks before being transported back to the hotel.
Operating times Select weekdays, 7am – 10am
Cost R1 970 (includes a private/small group yoga class customised to your preference, as well as equipment, the wisdom stone reading, refreshments and snacks, and return pre public access cable car tickets)
Where to find it Meet at Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel, 76 Orange Street, Cape Town
Abseil from the summit
The views from the summit of Cape Town’s iconic landmark are spectacular enough, now imagine enjoying them as you rope your way down the side of the mountain. Being 1 000 metres above sea level makes for an exhilarating experience as you are lowered into the vortex, the vast blue ocean stretching out before you, and Camps Bay, Lion’s Head and The Twelve Apostles forming a panorama of splendour.
Good to know For adventurers who wish to truly test their endurance, there is the option to hike and abseil Table Mountain in one go. You’ll ascend via Platteklip Gorge, but then, instead of joining the landlubbers in the cable car, you’ll strap yourself into a harness and take the route less travelled.
Operating times Daily, 9.30am – 3.30pm (Abseil)
Daily, 6.30am (Abseil + Hike)
Please note Tours are weather-dependent, and the minimum age for participation is 10 years old.
Cost R995 (Abseil)
Cost R2 190 (Abseil + Hike)
Where to find it Meet at the top of Table Mountain, next to the big wheel with cables, or in front of the Visitor Centre at Lower Cable Station on Tafelberg Road if you’re doing the hike and abseil.
No doubt reaching Table Mountain’s summit is the cherry on top, but the old adage “the journey is the destination” certainly applies here. The multitude of trails that wind their way around the mountain (not all go to the top) range from gentle, forested trails to endurance-testing rock-scrambling adventures.
A popular Table Mountain hiking trail is Platteklip Gorge, a three-hour hike that leads from Tafelberg Road to the Upper Cableway Station, making it the cable car’s equivalent of taking the stairs instead of the elevator (best avoided on a hot day, as there is little shade along the trail). There’s also Skeleton Gorge, a forested trail that runs from Kirstenbosch Gardens to Maclear’s Beacon (it’s recommended to avoid this route during and after heavy rain, as certain parts can be slippery, even during summer). Along the relatively mild Constantia Nek to Kirstenbosch route, you can enjoy the greenery of Cecilia and Newlands Forests along with vast views of the slopes of Table Mountain.
Contact 021 712 7471, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org
Visit the Waterworks Museum
If you’ve ever wondered why there are dams on top of Table Mountain, the Waterworks Museum will provide some insight into these old reservoirs, which were built in the late 19th century to provide the city with water. On display are some of the tools and machinery used in the construction, including an old steam locomotive that was manufactured in Scotland and sent to South Africa in 1898. How did they get a steam locomotive to the top of the mountain, you ask? Why not visit the museum to find out?
It’s located at the back of the mountain about 800 meters above sea level, and is only accessible via one of the hiking trails (the easygoing Constantia Nek trail is one way to reach it).
Operating times Daily, open 24 hours (closed during bad weather conditions)
Contact 021 424 0015, firstname.lastname@example.org
Where to find it Hely-Hutchinson Reservoir dam, Table Mountain
Ride an off-road scooter
Freewheel your way along the slopes of Table Mountain on an exhilarating scooter ride. The spectacular scenery is all the more invigorating during an off-road adventure, especially one where you get to feel the rush of adrenaline as you whizz down hills and slopes.
The tour begins at the Lower Parking Area off Kloof Nek Road, from where you are transported to the top of Signal Hill for your first downhill run. You are then picked up in Bo Kaap and taken to Dead Man’s Tree on Table Mountain, the starting point for a downhill ride all the way to Deer Park. The driver will then take you back to the Lower Parking Area.
The scooters are nonmotorised yet extremely stable (they’re used to navigate the slopes of the Swiss Alps during summer, after all), making for a family-friendly (and eco-friendly) experience.
Operating times Tuesdays – Sundays, 9am; 12pm; 3pm
Cost R590 (driver); R290 (passenger)
Where to find it Kloof Nek Parking Area, Tafelberg Road
Hike with your hound
Hiking is a lot more fun with someone who truly appreciates it, like your pooch. Most of the Table Mountain hiking trails aren’t dog-friendly, but the Pipe Track is, and it’s a great trail, too. Not only is it mesmerisingly beautiful, it also has an interesting history, in that it was built for the purpose of servicing a pipeline that used to supply 19th-century Cape Town with water from the Disa Gorge (hence its name).
Bear in mind that Table Mountain National Park is under the jurisdiction of SANParks, which requires that dog-walkers have a Level 1 My Activity Permit. Contact Tokai Plantation Office (021 712 7471) for more information.
- The Pipe Track can be tough on hot days, as large portions of it are exposed to the afternoon sun.
- There are a number of trails that lead off the Pipe Track, but these should not be attempted without the assistance of a knowledgeable guide. Many of these trails are not beginner-friendly, and they are not open to dogs.
Contact 021 712 7471, Table.Mountain@sanparks.org
Where to find it The junction of Tafelberg Road and Kloof Nek (you can park your car in the Kloof Nek parking lot).
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