Arguably one of the most well-known mountains in Africa, Table Mountain provides a magnificent backdrop to cosmopolitan Cape Town.
The main feature of Table Mountain is the level plateau approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) from side to side, edged by impressive cliffs. The plateau, flanked by Devil's Peak to the east and by Lion's Head to the west, forms a dramatic backdrop to Cape Town. This broad sweep of mountainous heights, together with Signal Hill, forms the natural amphitheatre of the City Bowl and Table Bay harbour.
The highest point on Table Mountain is towards the eastern end of the plateau and is marked by Maclear's Beacon, a stone cairn built in 1865 by Sir Thomas Maclear for trigonometrical survey. It is 1,086 metres (3,563 ft) above sea level, about 19 metres (62 ft) higher than the cable station at the western end of the plateau.
Famous for the tablecloth of clouds that pours endlessly down its slopes when the south-easter blows, this is a mountain of many moods and offers walkers and hikers a range of routes that vary from strolls to rigorous hikes.
You decide whether you want to reach the summit and revel in spectacular views of the city or simply stroll along in the cool shade of indigenous forest – which ever you choose you won't be disappointed. The ancient Afromontane forest has a fairy charm as vines and canopies create a magical atmosphere.
Hiking on Table Mountain is popular amongst locals and tourist. Because of the steep cliffs around the summit, direct ascents from the city side are limited. Platteklip Gorge, a prominent gorge up the centre of the main table, is a popular and straightforward direct ascent to the summit. Par for the course is about 2.5 hours but is done between 1–3 hours depending on one's fitness level.
Longer routes to the summit go via the Back Table, a lower area of Table Mountain to the South of the main plateau. However please remember that even though it is in an urban setting it is still a wild mountain that offers challenging climbs and sheer cliffs so be aware of where you intend to walk and if you not sure, make sure you are accompanied by an experienced mountain guide.
If you want the views without breaking a sweat catch a state-of-the-art revolving cable car to the top.
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company celebrated its 79th anniversary in 2008 and remains the most popular tourist attraction in Cape Town!
Table Mountain has an unusually rich biodiversity. Its vegetation consists predominantly of several different types of the unique and rich Cape Fynbos. The mountain's vegetation types form part of the Cape Floral Region protected areas. These protected areas are a World Heritage Site, and an estimated 2,200 species of plants are confined to Table Mountain - more than exist in the whole of the United Kingdom.
Many of these species, including a great many types of Proteas, are endemic to the mountain and can be found nowhere else. In addition, the Table Mountain range has the highest concentration of threatened species of any continental area of equivalent size in the world.
Remnant patches of indigenous forest persist in the wetter ravines. However, varieties of fynbos dominate on the more exposed parts of the mountain (such as above the city) where conditions are too dry and harsh for forests. The mountain's natural wildfire cycle seasonally burns and thus rejuvenates the Fynbos vegetation on these exposed slopes.
The mountain has also suffered under a massive onslaught of invasive alien plants for well over a century, with perhaps the worst invader being the cluster pine. Considerable efforts have been made to control the rapid spread of these invasive alien plants.
The most common animal on the mountain is the dassie, or rock hyrax. They especially cluster around the upper cable station, near areas where tourists may discard or (illegally) supply food. There are also porcupines, mongooses, snakes and tortoises. The last lion in the area was shot circa 1802. Leopards persisted on the mountain until perhaps the 1920s but are now extinct locally.
Two smaller, secretive, nocturnal carnivores, the rooikat (caracal) and the vaalboskat (also called the vaalkat or African Wild Cat) were once common on the mountain. The rooikat continues to be seen on rare occasions by mountaineers but the status of the vaalboskat is uncertain.
Himalayan tahrs, fugitive descendants of tahrs that escaped from Groote Schuur zoo in 1936, used to be common on the less accessible upper parts of the mountain. As an exotic species, they were almost eradicated through a culling programme initiated by the South African National Parks to make way for the reintroduction of indigenous klipspringers.
Until recently there were also small numbers of fallow deer of European origin and Sambar deer from southeast Asia. These were mainly in the Rhodes Memorial area but during the 1960s they could be found as far afield as Signal Hill. The animals may by now have been eliminated or relocated.
Between 1896 and 1907, five dams, the Woodhead, Hely-Hutchinson, De Villiers, Alexandria and Victoria reservoirs, were opened on the Back Table to supply Cape Town's water needs. A ropeway ascending from Camps Bay via Kasteelspoort ravine was used to ferry materials and manpower (the anchor points at the old top station can still be seen).
There is a well-preserved steam locomotive from this period housed in the Waterworks Museum at the top of the mountain near the Hely-Hutchinson dam. It had been used to haul materials for the dam across the flat top of the mountain. Cape Town's water requirements have since far outpaced the capacity of the dams and they are no longer an important part of the water supply.
The mountain became part of the new Cape Peninsula National Park in the 1990s. The park was renamed to the Table Mountain National Park in 1998.
In November 2011, Table Mountain was named one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.
Capescape offers numerous private guided mountain hikes. Choose any one of the following:
Guided Table Mountain Hike (3-4 hours)
Guided Table Mountain Hike (4-5 hours)
Guided Twelve Apostles Mountain Hike
Guided Lions Head Hike
Guided Chapmans Peak Hike
Or speak to us about Overnight Table Mountain Hikes
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