Table Mountain in South Africa is iconic for a reason, and visitors can use this guide to reach its peaks and cloud views.
The beautiful city of Cape Town in South Africa is dominated by Table Mountain and is South Africa’s most photographed attraction. No Cape Town plan is complete without Table Mountain looming in the background. Cape Town photos really show how beautiful this South African city is and why everyone should visit it.
Cape Town is ranked in the top 10 most dangerous cities in the world, but despite this, it is safe for tourists. And it is especially safe if tourists follow normal common sense precautions.
What makes Table Mountain so iconic?
Table Mountain is a flat-topped mountain overlooking Cape Town. It is one of the main tourist attractions in the city. The mountain is part of Table Mountain National Park and is South Africa’s most visited national park. It attracts around 4.2 million people each year.
The mountain has a diverse flora of some 8,200 plant species (depending on the source). The main feature of Table Mountain is the flat plateau about 3 km wide and flanked by impressive cliffs. The mountain overlooks not only the city, but also the awe-inspiring (and must climb) Lion’s Head Mountain.
- Elevation: 1,086 meters (3,563 feet) above sea level
While most photos of the mountain show it on stunning sunny days, the flat top of the mountain is often covered in low cloud. These clouds are very often sitting all day on the top of the mountain. This means that it is difficult to plan ahead, one can be greeted with a full panoramic view of the city, or be enveloped in a mysterious world of mist.
Clouds are orographic clouds formed when the southeast wind is directed up the mountain slopes in colder air. The humidity then condenses in the clouds seen.
- The clouds: The clouds sitting on the mountain are called “tablecloth”
- Flowers: Over 70% of flowers are endemic to Table Mountain
- Penguins: See South Africa’s famous penguins at The Boulders
The mountain also has a breathtaking flora. In the past, there were mountain zebras, leopards and the Cape lion. According to the official Table Mountain website, these are no longer present – although some locals report seeing the Cape Lion there. It is still home to caracals, rock hyraxes, and chacma baboons. Going down to the Boulders, you can see penguins everywhere.
Getting to the top of Table Mountain
You have the option of climbing the mountain or taking the famous cable car to the top. It is also common for people to climb and then descend by cable car.
Point: Go up the mountain and descend by cable car
- Hiking time: About 1.5 to 3 hours
- Caution: The climb is very steep
It is much more than a panoramic photography background or a place from where you can take a breathtaking photo of Cape Town.
- Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens: Magnificent gardens at the eastern foot of the mountain
There are different ways to go up, there are at least two routes near the cable car station. Bring plenty of water on this hike as the hikes are very steep and often offer little respite from the continuous vertical ascent.
Come at the right time and there is water falling from the cliffs all around. To reach the top it takes a lot of walking through a large canyon and there is the continuous trickle and flow of water from the virtual cliffs. The sounds are relaxing and soothing and the path sometimes even passes directly under them.
If you don’t want to hike, the fastest and most convenient way to get to the top is by cable car.
- Morning rate: Return 360 South African Rand ($ 20), one way 210 South African Rand ($ 13)
- Afternoon rate: Return 320 South African Rand ($ 17), one way 210 South African Rand ($ 13)
Another must-see when hiking in Cape Town is Lion’s Head. It is between Table Mountain and the city of Cape Town. It rises to 669 meters or 2,195 feet above sea level and, along with Table Mountain, is part of Cape Town’s dramatic backdrop. While it may not seem like much, it is more dramatic because she and Table Mountain are so close to the sea.
- Elevation: 669 meters or 2,195 feet
- Hiking time: About 1.5 hours
Climbing this mountain takes about an hour and a half and the last part of the hike is very steep and requires scrambling. From this mountain, one can enjoy both a magnificent view of the city and of Table Mountain.
It’s also a great option for days when Table Mountain is surrounded by clouds. Here you can see both the city and the mysterious Table Mountain with its characteristic “tablecloth”.
Related: Here’s What You Need To Know Before Hiking Lion’s Head In South Africa
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