Table Mountain is a sight that mustn't be missed
If you plan to visit South Africa for a short period and you won't have a lot of time for sightseeing, Table Mountain should undoubtedly feature on your list of things to do.
The main feature of this mountain is its plateau, which is level and spans about three kilometres from side to side. Devil's Peak is on its east side and Lion's Head on its west. These mountains combined, together with Signal Hill, forma natural amphitheater around the city.
The unique, breathtaking Table Mountain is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and a Unesco world heritage site.
Visitors can get up close and personal through a cable car ride to the top or, even a better, through a hike that takes between one and three hours. While the cable way takes visitors to the top of the mountain, its does not go to the peak at Maclears Beacon. An additional 40-minute hiking trail will take visitors to the top at Maclears Beacon. Maclear's Beacon is the highest point above sea level, reaching 3500 feet (1086) metres.
The mountain's most popular hiking trail is known as Platteklip Gorge. It starts on Tafelberg Road and leads up a steep incline on a well-constructed pathway. Although this hike in conquered by many, it should not be underestimated.
Hiking via Skeleton Gorge leads to the Cape's immaculate Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, set on the east side of the mountain.
Many visitors use the cableway for convenience and ease, but a substantial number of visitors choose to hike instead. Some locals hike along the mountain regularly, in groups or individually.
The clouds seen covering the flat top of the mountain, referred to as a table cloth, are orographic clouds, which are formed by south easterly winds, known as the Cape Doctor. The Cape is home to many tales and, true to form, locals say that this formation of a table cloth, was caused by a contest between the devil and a local pirate, Van Hunks. This is how Devil's Peak got its name.
Table Mountain has a unique and rich biodiversity with several unique and is home to about 2285 species of plants, including the well-known Cape Fynbos.
Table Mountain Statistics and Information
- Table Mountain is located in Cape Town South Africa.
- The mountain forms part of Table Mountain National Park.
- The Table Mountain Cableway opened in 1929 and could transport 19 passengers at a time.
- The tea room opened in 1930.
- The cableway was upgraded in 1958, 1974 and in 1997, the latter being a major renovation that included a new administration office, pathways, lookout decks and a restaurant.
- The top of the mountain hosts a restaurant and gift store.
- The cable car carries 65 passengers at a time.
- Each of the cableway's cables is 1 200 metres in length.
- The cables that carry the carts weigh 18 tons and are attached to weights that weigh 134 tons each.
- The floor of the car cabin rotates to give visitors 360-degree views.
- The cable cars travel 704 metres up to the top of the mountain.
- The cars can carry up to 5 200 kilogrammes each.
- The cable car was planned in the early 1900s but only completed by 1929. Read about the History of Table Mountains cable car.
What to do on Table Mountain
- Take the cable car up.
- Go for a hike, from the top of the mountain. There are three trails to choose from to explore the peak.
- Have a meal at The Table Mountain Café. The café opens at 10.30am and closes 30 mins before the last car descends. The kitchen closes at 4pm. Breakfast is served until 11.30am.
- Half-hour guided tours happen on the hour from 9am to 3pm daily, departing from the Twelve Apostles Terrace. The tour is free and offered by Table Mountain staff.
Table Mountain Statistics and Information
The significance of Table Mountain for locals
- It's a massive landmark! (Try getting lost in Cape Town. It's not possible. All you need to look out for is a massive stone called Table Mountain and turn left.)
- Cape Town is a well-structured and developed city. The city and its suburbs are well-maintained, and locals take a fair amount of pride in the city and its infrastructure. Many guests that have traveled to South Africa have mentioned that Cape Town feels like a country on its own.
- Table Mountain is popular for its hiking trails. The most popular is Platteklip Gorge, but there are several. There are some locals that literally run up the mountain and they do it regularly as part of their weekly exercise routines.
- It's free to hike up the mountain! Many locals prefer to hike up Table Mountain, feeling that the cable car ride ruins the full experience.
- Table Mountain has massive pockets of pure water that gushes out of streams. These streams can be found all over Cape Town in areas surrounding the mountain.