One might question why visitors and locals alike would forego the Cape Town luxury of taking a perfectly good cable car to the top of Table Mountain and climb up instead.
The answer is probably ‘because it is there’ – the mantra of outdoor adventurers all over the world, so let’s have a look at the best ways to get to the top under your own steam (if you really insist!).
Bear in mind that climbing any mountain is no walk in the park, so make sure that you are fit enough to go the distance and take plenty of water along – even some food in case of an emergency.
Sunblock and a hat are as important as good sturdy walking shoes, and it is never a good idea to hike alone. Always take a waterproof windbreaker along with you too – Cape Town weather is notoriously unpredictable.
Lion’s Head Walk
One of the most scenic and popular routes, Lion’s Head Walk is a short 2km ascent and relatively easy, but does have a steep part near the top where caution should be exercised. It is a real treat to watch the full moon rise over the Hottentots Holland Mountains from Lion’s Head at sunset.
The Pipe Track Walk
This 12km walk consists of a stony track running alongside the pipeline which carries water down Table Mountain. The route is moderately difficult and takes about 4 hours to complete.
Platteklip to Upper Cableway Station
Considered the ‘highway’ to the top, this 3km route is not for the faint hearted and is a relentless uphill slog up the main gorge of Table Mountain. Although the track is safe and well-constructed, it is best to take the time to stop, rest and admire the glorious views of Table Bay and Cape Town on the way up.
Once you’ve reached the top of Table Mountain you can go the extra 21m up to reach the absolute pinnacle. This is an easy 5.5 km/ 2 hour walk which starts at the Western Table and is clearly marked.
The Smuts Track – Skeleton Gorge to Maclear’s Beacon
This is a great walk during the summertime and is steep and strenuous, although only moderately difficult. The route is about 4km long and can take up to 4 hours one way.
It may not be as easy or comfy as the cable car, but walking up Table Mountain does come with the Cape Town luxury of being able to stop and admire the views for as long as you like.