Enjoying Nature: South Africa’s Table Mountain
It’s fair to say that many travel enthusiasts will have South Africa as one of the must see countries in the world. The country has a diverse array of activities available to enjoy nature, from hiking to scuba diving to whale watching or shark diving.
Of course, in addition to the mountains and beaches, there is also Capetown which has been noted as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. While most people only get enthusiastic about the city of Capetown as the major area of attraction in said city of South Africa, my mountain-fanatic friends and I were more excited about stretching our legs to climb up the summit of Table Mountain. The truth is hiking up Table Mountain is an easy way to spend the day with so much gratification out of the climb as you are afforded spectacular views at the top. It is highly recommended that if you have one full day extra and you want to experience a bird’s eye view of the city, the mountains and the shoreline, well, then you better go hike up that mountain!
And we did. Because of how excited we were about the idea, we did not waste time as we the day after arriving in Capetown, we headed out to do the day hike up Table Mountain which stands at about 3550 feet. Locals say that the top of the mountain is prone to cloudy skies and wind. Checking the forecast revealed that the later we went, the better the weather. So we took our time waking up and getting breakfast. Conveniently, our hostel, Never@home had breakfast in their own restaurant so we didn’t have to go so far for that portion of the day.
We took a cab to the start of the trail at Platteklip Gorge and started hiking up a little past 11 am. The hike up is expected to take 1.5 to 3 hours. The trail up is only 2.5 to 3 kilometers but with 3400 feet elevation gain, it is a decent work out. Once on top, you can walk to the summit for another 45 minutes which is more or less flat.
The weather was a little cloudy but without rain. The trail is rocky all the way up and with rain it would have been a challenge to hike up safely. The higher we got, the steeper we climbed but the views do get better as you get higher. All in all, the views at the end were great rewards for the strenuous hike up. We saw a number of people both tourists and locals who were descending, and not many ascending like us. Cool beans. It is always nice when the crowd flows the other direction – at least that is the preference. I can understand why people would rather go down although I can imagine that to be much harder with the knees. With my short height, it would be a struggle as some of the rocks or boulders are almost my height the higher we got.
At the summit, you can see 360 degree views of Capetown, the mountain range, and the shoreline. After the summit walk, we then proceeded to go towards the direction of the cable car. Along the way one can see more spectacular views of the ocean next to the cliffs. Further towards the cable car you then enjoy the views of Lion’s Head which is also a peak that can be hiked; however, we didn’t have any extra day for that so we just enjoyed the view of it from Table Mountain. At the top, one can stand on a number of platforms to see the city and the ocean with the mountains in the background. From there, you can easily take the cable car down and hop on a taxi to get you back to the city center. Interestingly enough, most tourists see Table Mountain by taking the cable car up even though it takes over an hour of wait to ride it. Hiking up is a way better option because not only do you get a workout but it is also faster most often especially at peak season.
After thoroughly enjoying the summit views, we then descended via cable car and made it back to the city center to do a walking tour of the Bo Kaap section of the city. A presumed cloudy day turned out to be gorgeous weather for us. Can’t beat that.