Menu
Africa / South Africa

An Unexpected Hike to the Top of Table Mountain, South Africa

We never woke up intending to hike to the top of Table Mountain; it couldn’t have been further from our minds. Yesterday the mist and fog had blanketed the mountain, and because of the inclement weather, the cable car was not running. Today, however, the sun was back, and Table Mountain stood resplendent in its rays. We jumped in the car and eagerly made our way to the cable car station in anticipation of our ride to the top.

Plans soon backfired as we arrived to see an almost endless queue waiting in line to board the cable car. I am talking about hundreds of visitors all standing in the direct glare of the sun’s rays without any shade.

Now I’m not too fond of queues, and even though this was our only chance to venture onto the mountain top, there was no way I was ready to add myself and family onto the end of what looked like a never-ending line. We knew we were moving on from Cape Town the following day, but sometimes you have to choose the correct judgement for your own family and mine was not to join that queue!

This article may contain affiliate links. This means that if you purchase after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission. Read the full disclaimer here.

Pinterest Graphic Table Mountain

A Hike to a Waterfall

As a consolation, we decided to continue past the cable car queue and drive further along the road so that we could at least take some photographs to prove we had come this far. And that’s when it happened.

Jamie, my older son, spotted a waterfall a little way up from the roadside, and before we knew it, he had convinced the rest of us to go up and take a closer look.  Puffing and panting to get to the waterfall I foolishly thought that this would be our Table Mountain experience and we would soon be heading back to the car for refreshments and some air conditioning. Wrong!

Jamie had convinced his 14-year-old brother and my husband that it would be the best experience ever if we hiked to the top of Table Mountain. So between the four of us, we have Jamie who loves adventure and climbing, Dominic who goes with the flow, my husband who hates walking, (oh unless it involves a coffee stop at the end) and me who is happy to try anything once!

a woman and boy standing on the road with a mountain in the background

3 people hiking Table Mountain

Starting our Table Mountain hike

We started up the steps or should I say boulders at Plattekip Gorge, which led the way to the top of the world and collided with runners coming back down. It transpires that there is a Table Mountain running club that encourages its members to run up and then back down daily and as they passed us by it looked as if they had walked to the corner shop rather than defeat a mountain. One guy even overtook us as we were going up and then returned by us on his way down. Oh to be that fit!

Signpost for Platteklip Gorge

Let me reiterate at this point that this hike had not been pre-planned and therefore we didn’t have the right footwear on or enough water, think sandals and flip-flops, which made the climb even harder, and we were always stopping to rest.

The camaraderie with other hikers along the way kept us going. We overtook them, then they passed us always with that knowing nod to one another that we were all suffering, but the reward would be worth it.

Each time Dominic stopped for a rest, I made him carry on moving quite quickly, fearful that once he sat down for too long, there would be no way of continuing. The views from the mountain as we got higher were awe-inspiring, and we even bumped into some furry creatures along the way called Cape Rock Hydrax that reminded us of large guinea pigs.

a man and a young boy standing on Table Mountain

Cape Rock Hyrax animal on Table Mountain

A crow sitting on a rock

Reaching the Peak

Finally, after what seemed a lifetime but was, in reality, nearly 4 hours, we heard the sound of pan pipes. Were we delusional? Had we succumbed to heatstroke? No, all was well apart from sweat in places that I didn’t know existed. Turning the corner, we saw a lone man, sitting against a rock playing pan pipes and selling water. Hooray, we wouldn’t die on the mountain of dehydration, and if he had carried water to this spot, then we couldn’t be too far from the top. Right?

It turns out it was another 30 minutes climb with legs like jelly and mouths like the bottom of a birdcage until we eventually reached the plateau at the height of 1,085m. We hugged it out as if we were finalists in some warped endurance race and found an inner pride of accomplishing this feat as a family.

A view cross Cape Town

View down from Table Mountain

A boy hiking Table Mountain

a family standing on Table Mountain

The View from the Top

We wandered around the top of Table Mountain, admiring the views out over Cape Town and out to Robben Island, Nelson Mandela’s home for so many years. We took photographs and of course visited the cafe where Dominic and Jamie devoured their ice-cream rewards, and my husband got the coffee he had been yearning for on the way up the mountain, well a promise is a promise. And as for me, I got to experience something in my lifetime that I still talk about to this day. In fact, without Jamie suggesting we attempt our Table Mountain hike I wouldn’t be sharing my story with you today, so I am thankful that he did and we all shared this unique experience.

A woman sitting on a rock

a boy sitting on a boulder

viewing platform on top of Table Mountainman and woman standing at the top of Table Mountain

Oh and if you are wondering whether we hiked back down the mountain the answer is no, we queued for the cable car which in 5 minutes had us back at the bottom!!

Advice for your Hike up Table Mountain

Check the weather 24 hours in advance.

Have plenty of water and a snack.

Use factor 50 sunscreen.

Wear a hat.

Wear sturdy walking shoes; this is a tough hike.

Be aware of the time you start your Table Mountain hike to allow enough time to reach the top and then return before the cable car closes or it starts to get dark.

If you would prefer to hike with a professional guide then you may like one of these options:

 

Table Mountain Cable Car Information is here.

Signature

 

Pinterest Graphic 2 Table Mountain

Read Next: Quartermain’s 1920’s Safari Camp: An Authentic African Stay

About Author

Angela Price

Angie is a full-time travel writer with over 30 years of travel experience. She has always had a passion for travel, and after a 3-month world trip with her 18-year-old son, she created her popular travel blog to share her adventures with a wider audience. When Angie is at home in the UK, she enjoys exploring the English countryside, visiting castles and gardens and planning her next big adventure. Her motto is "Live Life Wandering not Wondering".

0 0 vote
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
32 Comments
Newest
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Renee | The Holidaymaker
Renee | The Holidaymaker
5 months ago

Well done Jamie for pushing your family out of its comfort zone and gaining a memorable experience! The 5 minute cable car down would have seemed not fair based on the feat to get to the top!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Renee | The Holidaymaker
5 months ago

We weren’t too happy with Jamie at the time but on hindsight, it was one of the most amazing things we have done and we still talk about it to this day.

Linda (LD Holland)
5 months ago

We took the bus to the cable car and the cable car up. But I am now sorry we did not hike to find the waterfall or to the summit. But you got an amazing day for views from Table Mountain. I do like the idea of getting a profession guide. We were surprised at how quickly the weather changed. So would definitely wait for a fully clear day.

Julia
Julia
9 months ago

Wow, what an amazing experience. I can only imaginr the joy and exhilaration you must have felt on reaching the top.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Julia
9 months ago

It really was a great experience to have with my family. It was hard going but I’m glad I did it !

Martin
9 months ago

Hi Angie,

Those are spectacular pictures, and I haven’t seen weather that clear for a veerrry long time..!

I do a bit of hiking here in Hong Kong. We have some wonderful trails here but I, too, have experienced the chastening feeling when some fitness fanatic runs past me on the way up and again on the way down, while I’m still gasping my way up..!

I’m glad you enjoyed your trip 🙂

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Martin
9 months ago

Thanks for your comment Martin, it was a great trip and one we still laugh about several years later. We started to do the Hong Kong peak trail a few years back but were unsure how long it would go on for so turned back due to insufficient time. If you like hiking and ever get to Tasmania there are some stunning trails there.

Martin
Reply to  WhereAngieWanders
9 months ago

Yes, I bet there are some spectacular trails in Tasmania!

None of the trails on HK Island take longer than 3 or 4 hours. The MacLehose Trail (100KMs) and Lantau Trail (75KMs) obviously take longer (around 20 hours for the MacLehose) but you can do individual stages of them, which you can generally complete in anywhere from 2 to 5 hours, depending on the stage.

Chloe Prince
Chloe Prince
9 months ago

Love this article! Sounds like a wonderful experience that I will get my partner to do with me at some point! Thanks for the tips too i’ll remember to pack some lightweight walking shoes! Keep up with the posts I love reading them!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Chloe Prince
9 months ago

Thanks Chloe. It was a very special experience to have with my family so I hope you can experience it with yours one day if you ever get to South Africa 😃

Yukti Agrawal
Yukti Agrawal
9 months ago

You had wonderful experience to Table mountain of South Africa. The view from top is stunning.Most wonderful part of your hike is that it was unexpected. Thanks for all wonderful tips.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Yukti Agrawal
9 months ago

I am glad you enjoyed reading about my experience. It was unexpected but I am so glad we did it.

Jay Artale
9 months ago

What a fabulous experience Angie, and you have created a wonderful memory that will stick with you forever. It’s impromptu adventures like that you’ll recall with affection for years to come, as the pain and exertion of the experience fades. We did something similar up a mountain in Palm Springs, not the right footwear and not enough water, and we were dehydrated for days afterwards!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Jay Artale
9 months ago

It was a fabulous experience and one we still talk about if anyone tells us they are travelling to South Africa. Your Palm Springs hike sounds pretty similar !

CHELSEA MESSINA
9 months ago

The view once you get to the top is BEAUTIFUL!! That’s awesome you got to see all the animals & wildlife that you did. Thanks for sharing this hike!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  CHELSEA MESSINA
9 months ago

Glad you enjoyed reading about it 😃

Nancy Hann
9 months ago

Looks and sounds like a wonderful journey. I’m not sure I would have braved it. It’s great that your family is cooperative and encouraging of each others’ interests. I’m sure your son appreciated you all agreeing to follow his adventurous heart…and you were all rewarded with gorgeous views and sweet treats at the end. Way to go!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Nancy Hann
9 months ago

It was a wonderful experience and my sons are a lot older now but still remember every moment of it, including the ice-cream treats at the top!

Jan
9 months ago

A well-written blog about your impromptu adventure. I felt as if I was with you in this hike. No coffee or ice-cream for you?

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Jan
9 months ago

No just water and a lot of it 🤣

Ann
9 months ago

I am right with you sister, I hate queues as well! We once stood in line for a few hours in Istanbul, to enter a museum, in like 30 degrees heat with no shade. I was about to explode, I should have had a hat!

Glad you enjoyed the hike!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Ann
9 months ago

It was memorable!

Georgina
9 months ago

My son spent almost 3 weeks in South Africa and he says it was the best experience ever. He has been all over the world but the Table Mountain is one place he thoroughly enjoyed. I am much encouraged both by his and your experience here to give it go.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Georgina
9 months ago

It is a wonderful country. I have so much more to write about. If you can then I would recommend a trip especially along the garden route

Sarah
Sarah
9 months ago

I love it when plans don’t quite come together as planned but end up working out so much better. I love that smug feeling you get when you’ve finished a hike. Great post, even though half my relatives are from Capetown, haven’t made it out there myself yet.

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Sarah
9 months ago

Yes, we did give ourselves a pat on the back when we made it to the top. Sometimes the best experiences come from the unknown and unplanned and this was definitely one of them!

Caroline
9 months ago

Wow, I have hiked down Table Mountain but not up. This sounds like a proper random adventure! Definitely worth it! Well done!

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Caroline
9 months ago

Thank You! It was very tiring but a great experience.

Nic Peters
Nic Peters
9 months ago

This must have been an amazing experience for you and your family, definitely a story to be told here and you told it so well! For me, as I’m sure many would agree, this is on my bucket list but to have the chance to fulfil this in the way you have with your family is a once in a life time opportunity, very jealous!! Another great read Angie 😁

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Nic Peters
9 months ago

Thank you Nic. It definitely was a bucket list trip and to be able to share such an unforgettable experience with my children is one I will always treasure 😃

Donny
Donny
9 months ago

Wow. What an amazing experience. Was the coffee worth the trip 😆

WhereAngieWanders
Reply to  Donny
9 months ago

I think for my husband it was worth all the hard work to get to the top for his coffee!

32
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x