Hiking Table Mountain is on many visitors bucket lists when visiting Cape Town. Table Mountain forms the iconic backdrop to the city of Cape Town and is one of the official New 7 Wonders of Nature. Today we are hiking the most popular route, Platteklip Gorge. The hike ends at Maclear’s Beacon. Platteklip, both a Dutch and Afrikaans word meaning “flat rock”.
The highest point on Table Mountain is Maclear’s Beacon at 1086 meters above sea level. But the cairn was not built to mark the height of Table Mountain. It was to assist in measuring the curvature of the earth. The highest point on the mountain is 19 metres higher than the Upper Cable Station and on the furthest side of the cable station. The beacon is still used by cartographers.
So just how fit do you need to be for this hike?
The hike to the top is 2Km and will take around two hours. Imagine being on a stair machine for 2 hours, that is how fit you need to be. Depending on personal fitness levels, it may take longer.
Hiking Table Mountain via Platteklip George consists of big rock steps with a tiny bit of scrambling. The route is rated moderate too hard. This is the oldest, most direct route to the summit and therefore also the most popular, you can expect to see other hikers and trail runners along the route. The trail is well constructed up a deep ravine on the iconic front face of the mountain, featuring imposing cliffs in its upper reaches. Watch the video here to get an idea of what to expect before you decide to hike this route.
Hiking Table Mountain What To Take
We left early in the morning on our hike. Summer can be brutally hot. Winter can be cold, wet and misty. The route is open all year round. Before hiking Table Mountain, check the weather report as things can change rapidly on the hike.
Our guide for the day, Craig Barrowman coaxed us up this steep climb with much needed words of encouragement. Craig also has very good knowledge of the fauna and flora that is abundant on this route. The higher you climb the better the panoramic views of Cape Town.
Two hours later, after much sweat and elevated heart rates we reached the summit. We left in the sun and arrived at the top to a cold wind, cloud and mist. After a much needed rest we started out to Maclear’s Beacon.
The walk to Maclear’s Beacon took us around 40 minutes. It is all pretty flat, my favourite part, after the hike up Platteklip Gorge. The route offers stunning views of the entire Cape Peninsula. On our hike to Maclear’s Beacon it was windy and we had intermittent cloud cover on the top of Table Mountain. We had Maclear’s Beacon to ourselves. A perfect opportunity to take in the natural beauty that surrounded us.
To get down from Table Mountain you can choose to either hike down or take the cable car from the upper cable way. The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway’s operation is weather dependent and if it is closed you will need to be able to hike back down the mountain. Check latest ticket prices and status updates here.
We chose to hike down via Skeleton Gorge, finally arriving in Kirstenbosch Gardens. The entire hike took approximately 5 and a half hours. If this option appeals to you, I would suggest that you take a guide who knows the entire route. Parts of the decent down Skeleton Gorge can be tricky. To book this guided hike please contact us here.