Here are our top picks for day hikes on Table Mountain. We can recommend what’s right for you based on your ability, ambitions and timescale rather than just assume you wish to ascend the standard route – which more commercial guides will do. All our hikes are privately led by guides we know and trust, who will look after you properly and engage you. You’ll be collected from and dropped back to your accommodation, and packed lunches are provided.
Please note that we only arrange day hikes with accommodation either side – take advantage of our insider knowledge on where to stay and rest assured that we have trade rates agreements that ensure that you don’t pay a premium for this service. Day hikes also form part of our longer self-drive itineraries in the Cape which are aimed at walkers.
selected hikes on table mountain
The “standard” route to the top of Table Mountain – it’s the most direct ascent and is a perfectly good option if time is limited, or you wish to be up and down before lunch. The cable car is convenient for descent, though we recommend you make a loop walk on the “Table Top”, taking in McLear’s Beacon, which is the highest point on Table Mountain, and enjoy a picnic lunch overlooking the city and Table Bay.
A favourite day on Table Mountain and Walks in Africa’s top pick for strong walkers seeking a proper mountain day hike. An ascent is made up Platteklip Gorge. Loop round the edge of the Table Top to McLear’s Beacon, experiencing great views over the city. From McLear’s, descend via Smuts’ Track on the back table, experiencing glorious views over Constantia, False Bay and along the spine of the Cape Peninsula. Drop steeply down through tangled indigenous forest in Skeleton Gorge, emerging into Kirstenbosch Gardens. A vehicle will meet you here. You can choose to enhance the route by opting to ascend via one of the scrambling routes described below.
A very good alternative to Platteklip Gorge, but you’ll need the whole day. The route up onto the 12 Apostles ridgeline via “Kasteelpoort”, a steep gully that climbs between the Kasteel and Postern Buttresses, rewards the lengthy traverse along the pipe track from Kloof Nek. Enjoy the mountain fynbos as you wend your way up the back table via the Valley of the Red Gods. There are a couple of easy ladders to enjoy before you finally emerge at the head of Platteklip Gorge, which falls away on the city side. You can opt to descend directly via Platteklip, or continue up a little further to the cable car station. Those with big reserves can traverse to McLear’s Beacon and descend via Smuts Track and Skeleton Gorge.
Kloof Corner and India Venster are relatively direct routes that can be followed to the top of Table Mountain and both these lie roughly below the line of the Cable Car. Both routes suit adventurous hikers who are comfortable with mild scrambling and a degree of exposure. Kloof Corner lies more to the right as you look up and crests the ridge line that comes up from Kloof Nek – this is the “Kloof Corner Ridge”. A highlight is the so-called 11-inch crack, which you must squeeze through to a mildly exposed ledge, which you climb to exit using a chain. The India Venster Route involves a fairly direct scramble, though there are staples in the rock which make this relatively straight-forward. Both routes emerge onto a good, horizontal contour path (Fountain Ledge) that cuts round below the final cliff situated just below the upper cable station. You follow this round to the right to an easy exit point. A guide is essential, but the routes should not be feared if you are a competent scrambler. Many hikers do not use ropes and harnesses, but guides carry these and may insist upon their use.
Accessed from the Orangekloof restricted area (permit required), this is a lovely approach that gives a very different perspective on Table Mountain and great views back through to the Constantiaberg and Hout Bay. Disa Gorge is a hidden, ethereal world of vibrant indigenous forest tucked away beneath the craggy outcrops of the Twelve Apostles. The route leads up to the wall of the Woodhead dam (1897), then via the Valley of the Red Gods across the back table to the top of Table Mountain. Those interested in history and engineering will be captivated by the late C19th damming and watercourse schemes – you can even descend into the blackness of the Apostles Tunnel. This route also forms the finish of an excellent 2-day hike from Silvermine, which has an overnight stop at Constantia Nek (Orangekloof Tented Camp on the Hoerikwaggo Trail is no longer open so alternative accommodation is used).
The Table Mountain Trail (2 days)
Most people’s Table Mountain experience is limited to one of the day hikes listed above or a cruise up in the cable car to marvel at the views. However, it is possible to spend a night at the secluded and historical Overseers Cottage, which is perched on the southern flanks of Table Mountain, at the end of Smuts Track and close to the De Villers Dam. There are wonderful views over the Southern Suburbs and the sweeping arc of False Bay to the distant Hottentots Holland Mountains. Imagine waking up to a panoramic sunrise and the smell of fresh croissants and coffee provided by your guide, in a mountain setting in the middle of the city!
All luggage and food is taken up by Jeep whilst you ascend the ethereal Skeleton Gorge from Kirstenbosch Gardens and all catering is handled by your guide. You’ll have two whole days of hiking in which you can explore the fynbos-clad slopes and plateaus that occupy the back table – an extensive and enchanting area that few who ascend Table Mountain take time to explore – before heading up to McLear’s Beacon to enjoy the views over the city and eventual descent via Platteklip Gorge to the lower cable car station on the city side. You’ll be met here and transported back to your accommodation.
Overseers Cottage can accommodate up to 16 people and can only be booked on a private basis. Owing to the relatively high base cost for renting the cottage (which is aimed at a theoretical occupancy of 6 persons), this hike is best suited to small groups as opposed to couples.