Hiking Table Mountain, above Cape Town, South Africa

LIMG_0867One of the things on Dave’s “definite to-do list” for South Africa was to hike up Table Mountain. Of course I was happy to go along. What a surprise to find out that it rises more than 1000 m above the city of Cape Town!

There is a gondola that goes up to the summit, but of course we would rather walk. We took the Platteklip Gorge route, parking near the bottom of the gondola cable, and hiking from there. We had originally planned to stay in Cape Town only two nights, and to hike Table Mountain either our first or second day, before hitting the road and driving east along the coast.

But the weather wasn’t great for hiking – totally fogged in and windy on the mountain – and we were really enjoying the Cape Town area, and the places we could get to from here (that I’ve already blogged about: the Constantia wineries, and the Cape of Good Hope). And the forecast was looking much better a few days away – so we ended up staying a total of four nights in Cape Town, hiking up Table Mountain on our final day. And, as you will see from these photos, it was worth the wait. It was a stunning day!

Here’s where we parked. We are about to hike up to that pointy peak in the centre, which is where the gondola arrives to.

Here’s where we parked. We are about to hike up to that pointy peak in the centre, which is where the gondola arrives to.

The start of the Platteklip Gorge Trail - one of the MANY routes up the mountain.

The start of the Platteklip Gorge Trail – one of the MANY routes up the mountain.

Frogs in the pond at the trailhead. We saw three frogs fighting, biting one another and rolling around. Who would have known?

Frogs in the pond at the trailhead. We saw three frogs fighting, biting one another and rolling around. Who would have known?

A pretty steady climb. First view point, looking over Cape Town - only part way up.

A pretty steady climb. First view point, looking over Cape Town – only part way up.

Checking out the gorge...

Checking out the gorge…

...which the trail follows, to avoid the cliffs.

…which the trail follows, to avoid the cliffs.

Partway up the gorge. Views getting ever better! You can see the road below, to get an idea of how far we have come up so far.

Partway up the gorge. Views getting ever better! You can see the road below, to get an idea of how far we have come up so far.

Now on top. We were surprised by how many trails there were up here. We decided to take the one to McClear’s Beacon, the highest point on the mountain (which really is very flat on top like a table), before heading back to the gondola for a ride down.

Now on top. We were surprised by how many trails there were up here. We decided to take the one to McClear’s Beacon, the highest point on the mountain (which really is very flat on top like a table), before heading back to the gondola for a ride down.

Trail on top to McClear's Beacon.

Trail on top to McClear’s Beacon.

Stopped for lunch at the beacon,with great views northward, then followed a different trail back, skirting the cliff edge on the west side, above our car.

Stopped for lunch at the beacon,with great views northward, then followed a different trail back, skirting the cliff edge on the west side, above our car.

Cliff-edge view over downtown Cape Town.

Cliff-edge view over downtown Cape Town.

It’s spring here, and there were so many beautiful wildflowers in bloom up here.

It’s spring here, and there were so many beautiful wildflowers in bloom up here.

Heathers.

Heathers.

(Not sure what these are).

(Not sure what these are).

And here’s a view of Lion’s Head, the peak we climbed the other day in the mist and fog - with no views!

And here’s a view of Lion’s Head, the peak we climbed the other day in the mist and fog – with no views!

Then back to the top of the gondola cable - a much busier place than where we had spent most of our day.

Then back to the top of the gondola cable – a much busier place than where we had spent most of our day.

But still with gorgeous views - here looking down above Camp’s Bay. Check out the little rock ledge on the far left - can you see the little furry guy sun-baking there?

But still with gorgeous views – here looking down above Camp’s Bay. Check out the little rock ledge on the far left – can you see the little furry guy sun-baking there?

ve is the African elephant. (I would have guessed guinea pig...)

Here he is, closer up. He’s an animal called a dassie. Apparently his closest living animal relative is the African elephant. (I would have guessed guinea pig…)

And then the gondola ride down - a very fast trip!

And then the gondola ride down – a very fast trip!

Back to the car around 3pm - now finally leaving Cape Town and heading inland, to the world-famous wine-producing area of Stellenbosch. Blog post about that coming...

Back to the car around 3pm – now finally leaving Cape Town and heading inland, to the world-famous wine-producing area of Stellenbosch. Blog post about that coming…

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