Table Mountain, Cape Town.

Table Mountain is Cape Town's most famous landmark and is officially one of the New7Wonders of Nature.

The mountain is named for its flat top which is often covered by cloud, forming the "table cloth".
It is flanked by Devil's Peak to the east and by Lion's Head and Signal Hill to the north.

Table Mountain, Cape Town

Devil's Peak to the left and Lion's Head to the right of the mountain.

What makes the mountain so impressive, is that it rises virtually straight out of the ocean to a height of 1 087m (at Maclear's Beacon - the highest point).

Fauna and flora facts

  • The main vegetation, is the unique and rich Cape fynbos.
  • An estimated 1,470 species of plants are found and amongst them are many kinds of world-famous proteas.
  • The Table Mountain ghost frog (Heleophryne rosei) is a critically endangered species endemic to the eastern and southern slopes.
  • Dassies’ soles are kept moist by special glands. They are able to climb smooth cliffs using their feet as suction pads.
  • The five most venomous snakes found on the mountain are the Cape cobra, puff adder, boomslang, rinkhals and berg adder.
  • The male agama lizard is a particularly interesting sight during mating season, when its head turns bright blue.
  • In June 2004, the Cape Floral Kingdom, which is the smallest and richest on Earth, and is home to an amazing 8200 plant species, was recognised as a Natural World Heritage Site.

The two ways to reach the summit, is to either walk, or to use the Rotair Aerial Cable cars.

Table Mountain Cable Car, Cape Town

The new Rotair Cable Car nearing the upper station. Image: tablemountain.net

Cable car facts

  • The "Rotair" cars carry 65 passengers, and run on a double cable, making them stable in high wind, and giving a fast journey of 4-5 minutes to the summit.
  • The floors of the cars rotate through 360 degrees during the ascent or descent,giving passengers a panoramic view of the city.
  • The cable cars take visitors 704m, from the lower station at 363m above sea level, to the upper station, at 1067m above sea level.
  • The special cabling used for the Cableway is Swiss-made, high-tech, full-lock coil, designed to keep moisture out while retaining internal lubrication.
  • The two cable cars, counterbalance each other – as one goes up, the other comes down. They cannot operate independently of each other.
  • The cable car’s base is filled with water, and serves as a ballast in windy conditions.
  • Construction of the Cableway was first started in 1926, with it officially opening in 1929.
    The first cable car – with a tin roof and wooden sides – was officially opened to the public on October 4, 1929. It carried 20 passengers.
Table Mountain Cable Car, Cape Town

The old car.

Walks to the top of Table Mountain

Platteklip Gorge

The oldest, easiest and most direct route to the summit and therefore also the most popular, so expect company along the way. Follows a well-constructed path up an imposing ravine on the north face, featuring dramatic rock-formations in its upper reaches. Tops out near the upper cable station. Extension: from the ravine head, traverse the entire tabletop to Maclear’s Beacon, highest point on the mountain.

Skeleton Gorge to Maclear's beacon

Follows a ravine carpeted with indigenous forest before breaking out onto slopes of fragrant fynbos (indigenous shrub) to eventually gain Maclear’s Beacon, highest point on the mountain and the Cape Peninsula.

A 15-minute detour en route leads to a ‘beach’ at the historic reservoirs. A great and deservedly popular route taking in a variety of floral zones and a full range of views.

Twelve Apostle's to Table Mountain Summit

Explores the chain of peaks extending south of Table Mountain proper along the Atlantic coast. Leads up one of many ravines dissecting this bastion of the mountain, passing superb viewpoints, a subterranean stream, the reservoirs, rock labyrinths and sculpted rock-formations.

A visit to the little Waterworks museum makes for an interesting aside. Lots of variation possible.

India Venster

This sensational route leads up directly under the cables of the cable car before skirting around to the back of the mountain. One of the finest half-day options on the mountain. A short detour leads to an exhilarating traverse through cliffside caves.

Suitable for, but not restricted to the more adventurous. Dramatic topography and varied hiking.

Llandudno Ravine

A delightful route up the south-western extremity of the Table Mountain massif, topping out near some of the best viewpoints on the mountain. Lots of solitude on this one, so ample opportunity to connect with nature. On some days, all you hear are the distant crash of waves, the clicking of frogs, the burble of a stream and the chirping of birds – all at the same time.

Hiddingh Ascension

Arguably the wildest route and this one’s for the true adventurers out there. Enter a lost world of gloomy ravines, Afro-montane forest and geological drama. Only a faint trail for much of the way, this route provides an unrivalled wilderness experience on a remote sector of the mountain. Not for the faint-hearted or unfit.

Lion's Head

Although not as high as Table Mountain, this prominent little peak commands panoramic views that will leave you breathless. Route circles the peak before following an exposed ridge to the summit. Available as a sunrise or sunset hike, the latter with drinks and snacks – a truly memorable experience.

Source: Hike Table Mountain

The Hoerikwaggo Trail

The Hoerikwaggo Trail, is a 5 day, 4 night hiking trail traversing 75km through the Table Mountain National Park (TMNP). Hoerikwaggo is a Khoisan name given to Table Mountain by the nomadic Khoi people who hunted and gathered on these mountains.

Linking Cape Point to Table Mountain, the trail was constructed by previously unemployed people from the townships of the Cape Peninsula with a great emphasis on leaving little or no environmental impact on the earth.

Hikers pass through peaks, forests, beaches and restricted conservation areas of TMNP, while journeying through the smallest and most diverse of the world’s floral kingdoms.

Along the trail, hikers are also exposed to breathtaking views, and the flora and fauna unique to the Western Cape.

Check availibility


Insider's Tips


Tip 1:
Always pack something warm, as it might be much colder at the top of Table Mountain than at the bottom.

Tip 2:
Visit the Aerial Cableway website to confirm whether they are open, as trips are weather dependant.
NB!! - When you hear the hooter, return to the top station immediately as unfavourable weather conditions are approaching - the Upper Cable Station will be closing.

Tip 3:
Visit between 14h00 and 16h00 when there is typically a lull in visitors – you’ll spend very little time in the queue and have more than adequate time at the top.

The view from Table Mountain, Cape Town

Image: tablemountain.net


Useful Information:


Aerial Cableway

Telehone:
021 424 8181

Website:
www.tablemountain.net

Tour Operators for available for guided walks on the mountain:

Hours:

16 January - 31 January: 08h00 - 20h00

1 February - 28 February: 08h00 - 19h30

1 March - 31 March: 08h00 - 18h30

1 April - 30 April: 08h00 - 17h30

1 May - 15 September: 08h30 - 17h00

16 September - 31 October: 08h00 - 18h00

1 November - 30 November: 08h00 - 19h00

1 December - 15 December: 08h00 - 20h30

16 December - 15 January: 08h00 - 21h00


What to do


Table Mountain, Cape Town

Image: tablemountain.net

Table Mountain Cafe

Dine at Table mountain Cafe. The menu include pizzas, gourmet burgers and a section with traditional South African food. Light meals are also available from the deli.

Shop at the Top

The Shop at the top offers a wide selection of items ranging from handmade jewelry and local crafts to chocolates and teaspoons.
Practical items such as sun block, beanies and batteries are also available.

Guided walks

Free short guided walks depart daily at 10:00 and 12:00 from the Upper Cable Station

The shop on top of Table Mountain, Cape Town

Image: tablemountain.net


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