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Table Mountain

Table Mountain
Some info:
Forget Madiba, South Africa’s most recognised icon is set in stone. Providing a majestic backdrop to the city of Cape Town , Table Mountain is one of the world’s most striking natural wonders. 

Flanked by Devil’s Peak to the east and Lion’s Head and Signal Hill to the west, Table Mountain’s famously flat-topped plateau is definitely worth summitting – either by foot or by aerial cable car.

There’s plenty to do – on, off, or at the foot of this great mountain. For the more adventurous – abseiling, angling and diving (from Oudekraal or Karbonkelberg), hang gliding, parasailing, rock climbing and mountain biking await. But Table Mountain can be equally enjoyed by those embarking on a hike up the mountain, a meal at the top, a scenic drive near the bottom, or a picnic somewhere in between.

From a botanical point of view, Table Mountain is the richest area (for its size), anywhere on the planet – surpassing even the tropical rainforests in its diversity. Home to some 2285 plant species, Table Mountain alone has over 1500 species of plants, more than that of the entire United Kingdom!

Being a national park (the only one in the country to be set in the midst of a bustling metropolis), it’s not just flora, but fauna that abound here too. Any visitor to Table Mountain is likely to meet the dassie (Rock Hyrax) – resembling a peculiar combination of a mole and a rabbit – the dassie’s closest living relative is in fact, the elephant! No less than 111 of Table Mountain’s invertebrate population (and one vertebrate, the Table Mountain Ghost frog) are found nowhere else on earth.

Intrepid climbers have opened over 350 separate routes to the summit of Table Mountain, ranging from fairly easy to extremely difficult. Before attempting a climb, get expert advice on the weather conditions and your chosen route – the infamous tablecloth of midst that can descend on the mountain is something you don’t want to find yourself in the middle of.

Address: Cable Way is on Tafelberg Road.
Where it is: The mountain can be accessed from multiple locations all over the peninsula but to get to the Cable Way take Kloof Road (M62) to Kloof Nek, and then follow the signs along Tafelberg Road
Times: Sunrise to Sunset
Price: Access to the mountain is free if hiking or walking.
Payment Options: Free
Telephone: 021 701-8692
Fax: 021 701-8773
Website: www.cpnp.co.za
E-Mail: [email protected]
Age Group: All Ages
Facilities: Wheelchair access from the top of the Cable Way. Restaurant at the Cable Way.
Dress Code: Comfy for Walking

HIKING TABLE MOUNTAIN

Hiking on Table Mountain is an enormously rewarding experience but it is a mountain that needs to be treated with caution.  Although it is “only” 1000 metres (3500 ft) high, it is demanding.  The top of the mountain is divided into 2 sections – the Front Table (the characteristic Table Mountain n) and the Back Table – 200 metres lower and extending all the way to Hout Bay.  There is a useful map of the mountain that indicates the main routes – it is obtainable from CNA and Kirstenbosch.

¨        To walk up and down will take between 4 and 8 hours depending on your fitness. To walk up and to come down by Cable Care will take 3 to 6 hours.  Wear appropriate shoes.

¨        Although it is flat on top it is completely surrounded by cliffs – to get off the path is dangerous.

¨        The weather at any time of the year can change within 30 mins from clear, sunny skies to thick cloud and bitter cold so always take warm clothing.

¨        There are only 4 accessible routes where ropes or a Guide are not needed.

¨        Signage on the mountain is almost non-existent – keep to the main paths and take a map.

During summer there is no water, so take your own.

PLATTEKLIP GORGE: Up the front face of the mountain starting at the first stream that crosses the road past the lower Cable Station.  The route ends at the top of the “notch” on the Front Face.  This is the quickest route up (2 – 3 hours).  The path is clear and has been well built up.  It just requires a long hard slog to get to the top.  At the top turn right for the Cable Station, and left for Maclears Beacon
SKELETON GORGE: Up the back of the mountain starting at Kirstenbosch and ending at Maclears Beacon.  A very attractive way up, along a very well maintained path (Smuts Track – after General Smuts, the war-time leader of South Africa.)  The first part of the route is through indigenous forest, then rock-hopping up a stream and then a beautiful open walk from the Back Table to the Front Table.  The route up to Maclears Beacon will take between 4 and 5 hours.  There is then a spectacular walk along the front face of the mountain to the top Cable Station – this will take an additional 2 hours.
KASTEELSPOORT: The only acceptable route up the Camps Bay side of the mountain. Starts at the traffic circle at Kloof Nek and follows the Pipe Track (so called because of the water pipeline) until you reach the second clearly defined route up the mountain.  It is signposted.  It takes you up to the Pump station at the reservoirs on the Back Table.  The rest of the route is the same as the Constantia Nek route.  The whole route takes between 5 and 6 hours.
ACROSS THE TABLE: An easy walk.  Take the Cable Car to the top, then follow the path away from the top Cable Station.  It will take you through a small valley (the top of the Platteklip route) and onto the Eastern Table.  Follow the signs to Maclears Beacon.  Below the beacon is a plaque to Jan Smuts and leading away from the plaque is a clear path.  It traverses across the front edge of the Mountain with spectacular views over the city.  The path eventually comes back to the top of the Platteklip route.

WALKS ELSEWHERE N THE TABLE MOUNTAIN CHAIN

LION’S HEAD: A there-and-back route that starts approximately 1 km from the Kloof Nek circle on the Signal Hill Road.  There is a stand of Pines on the right side of the road.  Park there and follow the obvious jeep track opposite the trees.  The route is a 360 degree rotation around the lower slopes of Lion’’ Head.  There are 2 rock bands that one has to get through to reach the top.  To assist getting through them there are 2 sets of chains that one can use to pull oneself up.  Alternatively, there is a path on the south corner that one can take to avoid the chains.
DEVILS PEAK:  A there-and-back route that starts on the road that runs past the lower Cable Station.  Follow the road until you reach the corner beneath the saddle between Devils Peak and Table Mountain.  There is a clear, zigzag path that leads up to the saddle.  From there, there are two parallel paths that lead to the summit of Devils Peak.
CONTOUR PATH: An easy walk that starts at Constantia Nek and leads the whole way around Devils Peak and onto Kloof Nek.  There are about a dozen paths leading down from the Contour Path to different parts of Kirstenbosch, Newlands Forest and Rhodes Memorial.  Where you start and how far you go depends on how long you want to keep walking but getting back can be a problem, so a there-and-back route is best.
SILVERMINE NATURE RESERVE: There are two easy but spectacular routes in the reserve, on either side of Ou Kaapse Weg.  The flowers are always good and the views are excellent.

1)        Muizenberg Mountain : going from Constantia to Sun Valley turn off left into the pines just after the top of the pass.  There is a jeep track leading to the top of the range with small foot paths leading off it.  Provided the weather holds this is a good area to ramble – just keep one eye on the jeep track to get you back.

2)        Constantiaberg : going from Constantia to Sun Valley turn off right into the reserve at the top of the pass.  Follow the tar road to the reservoir where you can park.  From there follow the paths toward the Constantiaberg – the peak with the antenna.  By bearing right you can get up to the Elephant’s Eye and by bearing left you get to the top of the cliffs looking down onto  Hout Bay – a spectacular sight.

CAPE POINT NATURE RESERVE: There are trails all around the shoreline in the reserve.  The ones on the Atlantic side are spectacular in bad weather – an ideal place to walk if you’ve had enough of the City.  Take along a book that described the flowers and life on the seashore – you will be well rewarded.
CHAPMAN’S PEAK: Probably the most spectacular view in the Peninsula.  The path starts at the last bend before the top viewpoint on the Hout Bay side of Chapman’s Peak Drive. The path bears right as you climb, passes through a beautiful stand of Protea bushes and ends after about an hour on Chapman’s Peak.  Views into Hout Bay, Noordhoek, Cape Point, Constantiaberg and the back of Table Mountain.  Can be closed because of rockfalls in rainy weather.  Ph 790  1520 to check.
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