The Table Mountain National Park is Cape Town’s ultimate delight. The park is a World Heritage Site, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature, and it offers activities, walks, beaches, hikes and epic views like no other.
Whether you’re a tourist or a local, visiting the Table Mountain National Park has got to be on your to-do list when visiting the Mother City. The park spans all the way from the iconic Table Mountain right across to cliffs at Cape Point.
A drive from end-to-end will be filled with beautiful views, quirky coffee shops and lots of opportunity for adventure. If you’re keen to enjoy the 360 degree views offered at the top of Table Mountain, you can choose between two options. Either pack your backpack and hike up one of the many hiking trails or take a breezy trip up on the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway.
Table Mountain: Cable Car Info
A trip to Cape Town wouldn’t be complete without a trip up the famous Table Mountain. The quickest way to do it is by taking a cable car; it will take you about 5 mins to get right to the very top.
There are two cable car that run frequently (weather permitting); each carries about 65 people at a time and gives you the chance to enjoy the beautiful city views on your way up and down. Once at the top, you’ll be treated to breath-taking views of the city, Robben Island, the Twelve Apostles mountain range, Camps bay and beyond.
Once you taken your quota of photo’s, stroll around the table top and enjoy the fresh air mixed in with the scents of dassies, fynbos and coffee wafting from the restaurant. You can even choose to do the Dassie or Klipspringer walks which will take you to parts of the mountain you might otherwise miss.
- Return: R255
- One-way: R135
- Return: R125
- One-way: R65
- SA senior citizens:
- Return: R100
- One-way: R53
- Return: R130
- One-way: R70
- Tickets can be bought online here, where you may also check if the car will be running, as it operates subject to the weather.
- Camps Bay along the coastline to Cape Point.
- Google Maps pin here.
- Cable-car hours change regularly. Check the times here.
- The cable-car closes for about ten days annually, for maintenance. Check this year’s dates on the Table Mountain website.
- +27 (0)21 424 0015
The cable-car is free to residents on their birthdays; just bring your ID along
Table Mountain: Things To Do
- Rock Climbing; visit Cape Climb or Climb ZA.
- Picnic and braai
- Sunset at the top
- Hop-On Hop-Off Cable Car & Red Bus Combo
- Table Mountain Cafe
- The Wi-Fi lounge
- Overseers Cottage
- Wash House
- Visit SANParks to find out more and check availability.
Top Visitor Tips
If you’re visiting Cape Town, a trip up Table Mountain is an absolute must-do! To make sure you get the most out of your experience, here are a few insider tips:
1. Buy tickets online
If you choose to take the cableway, we suggest buying your ticket online to avoid the queues.
2. Don’t go early
Contrary to popular belief (and other tips out there) the cableway is generally very busy in the mornings. If you want to avoid the crowds and long queues, buy an afternoon ticket which is valid from 13:00 onwards.
3. Hike in groups
If you decide to hike up the mountain, you should travel in groups and take plenty of water and warm clothes as the weather can change in an instant. On days when the weather is bad, the Cableway may close down, so be prepared to hike down if need be.
4. Visit in Summer
Cape Town’s long, dry summer months between November and February provide the best conditions for visiting, and the Cableway operates later into the evening during this time.
Popular Hiking Trails
Table Mountain boasts over 900 hiking trails in you include climbing routes into the list. The routes can all be mixed into countless variations to provide a lifetime of hikes and climbs.
Some of the most popular hiking routes include:
This is the oldest route to the top and the most direct. It’s a challenging stone-step ascent up to the top and should not be taken lightly.
- Time: +- 2 hours up
Skeleton Gorge (from Kirstenbosch National Garden)
Starting in the beautiful Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, this route is shaded by indigenous forest and is one of the most beautiful routes to the top of the mountain. The trail tops out at Maclear’s Beacon, the highest point on Table Mountain.
- Time: 5 hours up
Nursery Ravine (from Kirstenbosch National Garden)
Even though most hikers take this route down the mountain, it can most certainly be used as an ascent route. Most of the path is stepped, but there’s a bit of scrambling over loose rocks and a ladder at the top.
- Time: 3 hours up
Bridle Path (from Constantia Nek)
This is one of the mountain’s easier walks. Starting from the gravel parking area at the top of Constantia Nek, follow a dirt road for a short way then hit a cement road taking you to the top.
- Time: 3 hours up
Circular route on top
If you’d prefer to save your energy for the top of the mountain, hop on a cableway and join one of the free 30-minute guided tours from the upper station. Tours depart every hour on the hour.
- Time 30 minutes
Some of the other routes include:
- Hoerikwaggo trail
- India Venster
- Read our 11 Enchanting Hiking Trails around Cape Town article for more info.
Table Mountain is rich in biodiversity. Its vegetation consists of several types of Cape fynbos with the main vegetation being the endangered Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos. More critically endangered fynbos including Peninsula Granite Fynbos and Afromontane forest can also be spotted in smaller quantities scattered on the slopes of the mountain.
Interestingly, fynbos is a fire adapted vegetation which means that it relies on fire to drive its diversity. The plants that make up fynbos today are those that have been subjected to a variety of fire regimes over a long period time, and their preservation now requires regular burning. The vast vegetation forms part of the Cape Floral Region protected area which means that the area is deemed a World Heritage Site with over 2,285 species of plants found on Table Mountain and the surrounding Cape Peninsula range.
Many of the species of plants can not be found anywhere else in the world! Whilst walking the trails of the mountain, remnant patches of indigenous forest can be spotted and persist in the wetter revines of the mountain. Much of the indigenous forest was felled by the early European settlers for fuel and construction.
Despite the conservation efforts in place, the Table Mountain range has the highest concentration of threatened species of any continental area of equivalent size in the world. So remember to tread carefully when visiting the mountain.
If you’ve ever made your way up the slopes of Table Mountain, there’s a good chance you spotted some of its local residents - the dassie or rock hyrax. Surprisingly, the dassie is the African elephant's closest living relative, in spite of the size difference. This close evolutionary relationship is deduced from similarities in the structure of the feet and teeth.
Table Mountain is also home to porcupines, mongooses, snakes, lizards, and tortoises. Leopards used the live on the mountain but are now locally extinct. Two smaller, secretive, nocturnal carnivores, the rooikat (caracal) and the vaalboskat were once common in the mountains and the mountain slopes. The rooikat is spotted on rare occasions by mountaineers but the status of the vaalboskat is uncertain.
The mountain cliffs are home to several raptors species, these include:
- The Verreaux's eagle
- The jackal buzzard
- African harrier-hawk
- Peregrine falcon
- The rock kestrel
The Table Mountain Nature Reserve is Cape Town’s pride and joy. With so much to offer, there is no reason for you not to take to the mountains and explore the beauty of Cape Town from its very heart.
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