Cape Town's Table Mountain is a world-famous landmark and Africa's most recognized mountain. Table Mountain supports more species of plants than does the entire British Isles, and is also home to animals including the local dassie, with its rodent-like appearance and sticky feet to aid in roaming its mountainous habitat.
Table mountain is 1087 meters high and is almost 3 km long. The views from the top are simply breathtaking, and on a clear day not only can you survey the immediate surrounds of Devil's Peak, Lion's Head and Signal hill, or the sprawl below of the Cape Town CBD and the V&A Waterfront, but one can see as far as the Hottentots Hollands mountains to the east, right across the bay, or even to Cape Point at the tip of the Cape Peninsula.
Table Mountain's distinctive profile can sometimes be obscured by clouds blanketing its top. This impressive visual spectacle is described by locals as the mountain's 'Table Cloth'. These clouds continuously spill over the top of the Mountain down into Cape Town before dissipating. Legend has it that Dutchman Jan van Hunks challenged the Devil to a pipe-smoking competition on the slopes of the mountain, explaining the wispy cloud. When the table cloth is in full swing (often coupled by strongly gusting south-easterly winds), the Cableway to the top may not always be accessible.
The cable car station at the top of the mountain offers some of the best views available - there are powerful telescopes and information stands pointing out particular views of interest. There are also a few paths branching away from the cable car station to more scenic viewing points around the edge of the mountain.
Restaurants and shops
- Table Mountain Café
- The Summit Lounge
- Table Mountain Kiosk (at the Lower Cable Station)
- The Ice Cream Kiosk (at the Lower Cable Station)
- Satellite outlets
- Shop at the Top
Maclear’s Beacon marks the highest point on Table Mountain, approximately 1,087 meters above sea level. The stone, placed in 1865, was named after Sir Thomas Maclear, the Queen’s astronomer in the Cape area. Maclear’s Beacon is a must-see for hikers and tourists alike. Routes to the stone are well marked. The different routes can be accessed from Platteklip Gorge or the Cable Station. There is also a route from Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens known as Smuts Track. These routes take anywhere between 2 to 3 hours to reach Maclear’s Beacon.
Routes to the top
The Famous Table Mountain Cableway is the most popular route up to the top. Each cable car rotates while it travels - giving everyone inside a 360 degree view of the mountain, the Cape Town CBD and its surrounds during the journey. The Cableway is fully accessible to people with disabilities.
For the more adventurous, there are 5 safe and straight forward, but strenuous, hikes to the top of the mountain and many more routes available. The walk is in the region of 2 hours to the top. It is said that during a hike up the south side of the mountain a hiker can spot over 1000 of the 2600 plants indigenous to the Cape Peninsula. There is also a variety of birdlife to be seen on these routes.
What to take when going up Table Mountain
Like any other, the mountain should be treated with respect and any hike should be well planned. If you are going to do any walking up or on the mountain you should first make sure that you have a map, more than sufficient water, and warm clothes - its better to be prepared than caught short on the off chance that clouds descend and make finding your way difficult. You should also inform friends or family of which route you plan to take and what time you plan to return by.