No trip to South Africa would be complete without seeing Table Mountain. This iconic landmark towers over the skyline of Cape Town and to fully appreciate the mountain you need to get to the top of it. The panoramic views from the plateau allow you to get a full perspective of the Cape Peninsula. If you are fit enough you hike up one of trails leading to the top of the mountain. There are several different routes, each one is a good strong climb but offers a rewarding experience. People were asked to stay off the trails during the time of our visit. There had been several fires because of the extreme dryness. Unfortunately one of the worst fires was started by an ignorant tourist who had thrown a cigarette butt.
If you’re not up to several hours of hiking the cable car can have you at the top of the mountain in under ten minutes. The floor of the car rotates around the inside allowing everyone to get a 360 degree view.
Tips For Visiting Table Mountain
- Take the first opportunity to go up the mountain that offers clear weather and calm winds. Don’t count on being to go up on a specific day. The cable car gets shut down frequently either for part of the day or days at a time due to bad weather. Strong winds can quickly appear and bring with them a cloud cover appropriately called the Table Cloth. The clouds blanket the top of the mountain and pour down the sides. It’s always best to check the weather forecast before you go. The Table Cloth occurs more frequently from late November through February.
- Cape Town’s hop on/hop off buses will take you right to the base of the mountain where the cable car is. If it’s a nice day it will be busy. Avoid holidays and weekends and go as early as possible in the morning. By 10am the lines can be very long. There are less crowds towards the end of the day going up for the sunset. From November through February a Sunset special ticket offers a discount. You can take the cable car after 6pm for half price.
- Tickets are not cheap, but it is well worth the experience. Make sure you are not rushed and have plenty of time to linger around on the mountain top and explore the trails. A slight discount is offered for purchasing tickets online which will allow you to bypass the line for those needing to purchase them, but you will still have to stand in the queue for the cable car itself.
- Take safety seriously, both tourists and locals have perished on the mountain. Wear appropriate footwear and clothing. It can get chilly on top even on a warm day, take a light jacket or sweater. Stay on the paths and be aware of the weather. Fog and mist can roll in very fast. If you hear a loud horn while walking around up top return to the cable car before it shuts down.
- If you don’t get a chance to get to the mountain during your visit you can see it lit up at night. It’s particularly beautiful from the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront.
The plateau of the mountain is over 3 km’s in length. There are several view points linked by a series of paths. They offer views of the entire city bowl, the Cape Flats, Camp’s Bay and Hout Bay. On a clear day you can see Robben Island and all the way to the Helderberg Mountain Range near Stellenbosch in the Winelands.