One of the things you just have to see when visiting Cape Town (report here) is Table Mountain. It’s unique shape gives Cape Town a lot of character, seen from many places around the city as well as from the ocean! But even more stunning are the views over the city from the top on a clear day!
And therein lies the rub – having the opportunity to visit Table Mountain involves a little bit of luck, as it is very often covered in clouds! So much so, that a lady I met along the Garden Route coming from Durban on my first visit to Cape Town, told me that if I am lucky enough to see Table Mountain during my visit without clouds, I should drop whatever I was doing or planning to do, head to table mountain and enjoy the views! That is very good advice and I’d suggest you do the same! If you are ready to go, you can drive up to the mountain (or take the bus) and park near the gondola station. From there you have the choice to go up via the gondola, hike up or even rock climb!
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway is the quickest and most convenient way to get up the mountain. It’s a large, modern gondola and the operation is run very well. Tickets are $10 one-way ($20 return) for adults and it’s operated at least 8:30 – 17:30 (later during summer). The lines can be long, so it’s best to buy the tickets online – you can even do it on the way to the station on your mobile phone! Check for the latest updates here.
There are plenty of trails to hike up the mountain. The elevation difference is approximately 900m and the most direct route is about 2h! It’s considered a moderate hike, so you want to be reasonably fit. It’s ok to hike for kids and there are tours and guides available as well. If you are as adventurous as my 13-year-old godson and his father, you can also rock-climb the face of table mountain up with a guide. He was the youngest to do so and it took them about 8 hours to get up! It was a very rewarding trip for him and certainly an adventure he won’t forget.
I chose the comfortable cableway instead and enjoyed it. A nice way to do it is to hike up and take the cabelway down, allowing you to see Table Mountain as a half day tour. There is a (mostly level) hiking trail on the top of Table Mountain as well, giving you a chance to look over Cape Town in all directions and soaking up the beautiful views. Bring a good camera to capture the images of this amazing city at your feet.
If you are hungry and thirsty after your hiking, there is a restaurant on top as well, with indoor and outdoor seating and a surprisingly good choice of snacks and meals – ours tasted much better than your typical tourist destination fare and made for a nice meal break for our day!
I had the great fortune of good weather on both of my visits to Cape Town and went up Table Mountain each time. Should I return, I’d go up again – the views from the top are one of a kind and I will remember them forever! If you visit Cape Town, you shouldn’t miss it either! You won’t regret the trip up!