The iconic Table Mountain is as incredible from the air as it is from the ground. As we landed in Cape Town, I couldn’t contain my excitement when we finally saw it. Table Mountain is Cape Town’s number one attraction and it’s just incredibly beautiful. We were lucky enough to have a fantastic view of it from our Airbnb apartment in Gardens but we really wanted to do more than just stare at it from our window.
Most tourists use the cable car to get to the top of Table Mountain; it’s an easy option. But after indulging too much on South African food and wine, we decided that we needed to burn off some calories. Plus we do love a good hike!
The Platteklip Gorge hiking route, one of many routes
Hiking Table Mountain is not as easy as many other mountains we’ve hiked. The hardest part is actually deciding which route to take. There are many trails to choose from and they all sound doable. We chose the Platteklip Gorge hike, mainly because it’s the most popular path up the mountain.
We’d normally avoid a busy trail but with our Airbnb host slightly freaking us out about Cape Town’s safety and after reading that people are sometimes mugged while hiking, we opted for safety in numbers. We should add though that we felt completely safe throughout the hike.
Where do you start the Platteklip Gorge hiking route?
The Platteklip Gorge hiking route has its own carpark. Just follow the sign to the Cable Car and when you pass it, keep on driving for about two kilometres. Make sure to leave nothing in plain sight in your car and you should be fine. There is always someone there looking after cars. You can give them a small tip at the end as a thank you. Those guys always made us feel better about parking our rental car around town. A small tip helps ensure that your car does not get broken into. However, as I said, don’t leave anything in plain view, just in case.
If you don’t have a rental car then catch an Uber. If you prefer, you can instead take one of the many guided hikes to the top.
How hard is the Platteklip Gorge hiking route?
The Platteklip Gorge hiking route is the most direct route to the top of Table Mountain. That, of course, means that it is one of the most challenging hikes, due to the very steady climb. The Platteklip Gorge hiking route is very easy to follow, so it would be difficult to get lost. There are signs at the beginning of the hike and then you just have to follow the path up the mountain.
The path mainly consists of stone steps. Some of those stones are quite big and it can be tough for shorter people like me. What made this hike really hard though was the lack of shade and the intense heat. In summer, you’ll quickly become hot and sweaty!
How long does the Platteklip Gorge hiking route take?
The time to complete the hike really depends on your level of fitness and when you start. Allow for at least 3 hours return, including time at the top to enjoy the view. We took just under two hours to climb up and ended up spending over an hour at the top enjoying the views. We met some locals who completed the hike in 30 minutes! Obviously, they were a lot fitter than us!
Some tips for your Platteklip Gorge-hike
- Wear hiking boots or good walking shoes. The path is very rocky, so don’t attempt it in flip flops or high heels. I know that sounds stupid to say this but we did see people wearing them!
- Bring a lot of water. When I say a lot, I mean a lot; bring at least 2 or 3 litres each. You will need all that water because it gets extremely hot. If you run out they do sell water and drinks at the cafe on the top, near the cable car.
- Wear layers of clothing. Although we were lucky to have a beautiful sunny day all morning, it’s not unheard of for the weather on the mountain to suddenly change. Sometimes you can get to the top and it is windy, wet and cold. By wearing layers you can control your body temperature just by adding or removing a layer.
- Bring a waterproof jacket because, as I said before, you never know.
- Don’t start the hike if the mountain is covered in dark clouds, or you might see absolutely nothing on the top. It would be a real shame to exert all that energy hiking up to then see absolutely nothing. Of course, even if you start when the mountain is clear there is no guarantee that it won’t cover up during your hike. But if it is already covered in clouds, you’ll have even less chance.
- Start at 6.30 am, that’s the advice we were given. We decided that 7.15 was a little more civil and we regretted that pretty much straight away. The temperature climbed very quickly and we only had about 10 minutes of shade before the sun rose higher and the heat kicked in. We saw people starting the hike at 11 when the sun was already quite high and they were struggling so much in the heat. They were asking us how much longer they had to go when they had only done about a quarter of the trail. I wanted to tell them to turn back.
- Bring sunscreen lotion, a hat and sunglasses.
- The way down is actually pretty tough as well. It’s extremely hard on your knees and ankles. If you have had enough, you can take the cable car down instead. However, you’ll still need to take the trail back to the carpark as the cable car does not end at the Platteklip Gorge carpark.
- Make sure to take some cash with you in case you run out of water. You can stock up at the cafe on the top of Table Mountain. If you think you might not be able to return by foot, bring enough cash for a one-way cable car ride.
- Don’t hike alone. Whenever you’re hiking it’s always best to bring a hiking buddy. It’s safer and also a lot less boring.
Check out our video of the hike
We made a short two minute video showing what the hike is like and the amazing views that you get from the top of Table Mountain. Check it out below!
Accommodation in Cape Town
Use the search box below to find your accommodation in Cape Town:
While you’re in South Africa …
Of course, while you’re in South Africa, why not go on a safari. There are so many options to choose from but you can use SafariBookings to discover some great tours. We used it to find and contact tour operators when planning our African itinerary and it was really helpful.