I knew my time in Cape Town was sure to be unforgettable. From the moment I stepped foot off the p lane, to the quickness and ease with which I cleared customs, to driving through the night to my AirBnB, I just had a feeling the city had an amazing time to offer me. That feeling was further solidified when I arrived to my accommodations and took a look out the huge window in the front room. I took a look to the left and saw the twinkle of streetlights illuminating the night and I took a look to the right and saw a dark outline against an even darker sky. Table Mountain! I couldn’t wait to wake up in the morning and take in what was sure to be an amazing view. I’d seen pictures and knew that an ascent to the top, via cable car or hike (my personal choice) was a must do, so it was already on my list. But seeing it in full daylight was first on the agenda.
The following morning I opened my bedroom curtain to find the most stunning view staring back at me. I went to the front window and got another eye-full. Both views were partial, but amazing! The fact that it was literally in my backyard was too delightful to bear. As the days went on I quickly realized that the mountain and neighboring Lion Head were in everyone’s back yard. There was hardly a place in the city where one or both was not visible. I could hardly wait for my chance to hike up.
As I did a bit of research to plan my hike I learned that there are several paths that can be taken with varying degrees of difficulty, time commitment, and leading hikers to various points on the mountain. Wanting to go directly to the top, I decided on Platteklip Gorge. I read several accounts of this hike but it seemed that none of the accounts could agree on its difficulty and time commitment. One person said it would take about 3 hours while another said it would only take 60-90 minutes. Some found it very difficult while other said it was fairly easy. What everyone seemed to agree on was that water was a must and that the hike consisted of plenty of stone steps up, up, up the mountain.
SO…If hiking to the top of Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge is on your list, here’s my account and a few tips for the journey!
First Things First: Getting There!
To get to the start of the trail, you can drive or take a taxi to the lower cable car trolley station on Tafelberg Rd. Once there, continue your drive past the trolley on your right and continue around the curve of the mountain until you see these signs:
You will also see cars parked along the road on your left. These signs will be on your right hand side and will direct you to the beginning of the path.
Climbing Tips for Platteklip Gorge:
1) Start early, especially if you’re going in the summer months. My plan was to start the climb by 7am but because of a bit of trouble finding the path, I didn’t start the climb until 7:30.
2) Be sure to follow the signs on the lower parts of the trail. At one point I took a wrong turn and realized pretty quickly that I wasn’t going the right way.
3) Wear sunscreen and bring something to cover your head/shoulders. There is very little shade on the first 3/4 of the walk. Even at 7:30am the sun was strong. With little shade, you can get overheated or burn easily.
4) Bring water and maybe a lite snack. I did not do either of those things. I simply forgot. There are little shops by the lower cable car but they didn’t open until after I’d begun. Thankfully there was a large group of students on the trail with me and once a few of them realized I didn’t have water I was quickly offered water, cookies, and an energy bar! 😂😂 Im thankful they had a bit of pity on the silly, unprepared American girl! Don’t be like me. At least bring water. You’ll be glad you did.
5) Bring your camera and take time to enjoy the flora, fauna, and breathtaking views. There’s no rush and the views at every turn are simply stunning. Definitely take time to look down and see your progress.
**As you get closer to the top you’ll get a lot more opportunities for cool shade and once you make it all the way up the cool breeze and amazing view is your reward. Be sure to walk along the paths at the top to take in as many views as possible. If you choose to take the cable car back down (that was certainly my choice!) it’s a short walk from the top of Platteklip Gorge. There’s a cafe, wifi lounge, bathrooms, and a gift shop. Relax, take it all in, have a snack and pat yourself on the back!
For me the hike took 1hr45min with frequent stops for pictures, videos, and moments of rest. Be aware that it’s a pretty steady climb up stone steps that can be uneven at times. If you’re not active you may want to prep with a stairclimber or treadmill on an incline. It’s definitely a workout; not a walk in the park but not impossible.