Frequently asked questions
What is the average group size?
Even though we join groups, the combined group size rarely exceeds 8 people outside peak season (November to January). And we do our best to ensure compatibility with regards fitness and experience levels. Two guides are allocated for groups larger than 8 people. Private hikes (no one else joins your group) are available on request and involve an additional cost. Please enquire for details.
What's with the weather?
Perfect hiking days on Table Mountain are not as common as you might think. It’s often windy, very hot, bitterly cold, wet or cloudy (cloud on the mountain means limited or no views). This doesn’t mean one can’t hike up. Some of the most spectacular hiking occurs in the howling Southeaster wind, when the famous Tablecloth cloud-formation engulfs the mountain. Cloud or mist lends an air of mystery to the mountain and creates surreal surroundings. We operate in most weather conditions, so it is up to you to inform us if you have contingency days available in the event of less-than-perfect weather. Naturally, we won’t hike you up in the driving rain (although we’ve had masochists) or if adverse conditions make a route unsafe. If conditions are dubious, we level with you at the outset of the hike as to the chances of getting views from the summit.
What must I bring/wear?
You don’t need Gore-tex boots, trekking poles or fancy hydration gadgets to hike up Table Mountain. The kit list below includes the bare essentials:
- Water (at least 1,5 liters)
- Something warm like a fleece or sweater
- Comfortable sport shoes (running shoes / sneakers are fine)
- A daypack
- Sunscreen and hat
Please avoid wearing the following:
- Jeans or dresses / skirts
- Excessive or expensive jewellery
Depending on the route and weather, we might advise you to bring additional items like additional water, lunch, rain-jacket, etc. On scramble and climbing routes, we supply ropes and safety gear. We have spare hats, daypacks and waterproofs, so let us know if you need anything.
We are flexible in this regard, but do recommend a starting time based on the weather and time of year. A late start on a hot day pretty much ruins the experience. In summer, an early start is imperative for getting the most out of the hike: there’s more shade at that time, the air is cooler, and the light is better for taking pictures. It’s hard to enjoy your surroundings and appreciate the view when you’re sweltering under the blazing African sun, struggling to breathe and streaming with sweat. But we realize that you’re on holiday and that you might not be an early bird; as long as you understand and accept the potential implications of hitting the trail late on a hot day.
Must I book in advance?
If you’re thinking of doing a Private hike, it’s best to book long in advance. For standard hikes there’s no need to book weeks in advance, but feel free to do so. We get a lot of bookings a day or two ahead of time. We are very flexible in this regard and will do everything possible to accommodate you.
When/how do I pay?
Payment in cash on the day of the hike, before or after the hike. We take no deposits, and no cancellation fees are charged.
How do I get to the starting point?
If you don’t have a rental car, we offer free pick-up and drop-off in the city area. Our cars take up to 4 people, and since it’s a courtesy service, spaces are allotted on a first-come-first-served basis (first 4 people to book for any given day). Free taxi pick-up for others, but not drop-off; however, we will obtain a reliable taxi for you on completion of the hike (about R120 to any address within the city area).
What is the elevation gain on a hike up Table Mountain?
700 m to 900 m (2300 ft to 3000 ft), depending on the route.
What is the security situation on the mountain?
It changes all the time. A lot is being done to stamp out crime on the mountain (some is of the opinion that more should be done) and things have improved as a result. Rest assured that Hike Table Mountain keeps an eagle eye on the situation and remains informed of any changes, positive or negative. We are happy to report that in all the years we’ve been hiking and climbing on the mountain, both in the line of work and leisure, we have not once been accosted by muggers. Check out our blog for updates.
How fit must I be to hike up Table Mountain?
In order to enjoy the hike, you need to be at least moderately fit. If you are unfit, then you need determination and enthusiasm to make up for a lack of fitness. If you rarely exercise, your pace will be slower and you will take strain, even on the easiest route, but you will manage if you are prepared to break a sweat and make an effort. If your mind is up for it, then the body will follow.
What about snakes?
Snakes shouldn’t be a concern. They’re out there, but rarely show themselves. We spend a lot of time on the mountain and seldom come across venomous species.
Do I really need a guide?
Depends. If you want to get the most out of the mountain in a fun and safe way, then the answer is a resounding ‘yes’. If you’re happy with a second-rate experience of the mountain and willing to shoulder the inherent risks, then ‘no’.
Will we see animals?
Although leopards and lions once roamed the mountain, the only sizeable animals that remain are porcupine, genet, mongoose, klipspringer (antelope), caracal and an alien mountain goat called the Himalayan thar – all of which are rarely seen. Almost four centuries of settlement at the Cape has taken its toll on the wildlife. We are likely to see rock hyraxes, kestrels, agamas (lizard) and sunbirds, but nothing that could trample or eat you.
What are the most popular hikes and options that people do?
Most people who hike with us opt to take the cable car down. Few like to hike more than 5 hours. As for routes, Skeleton Gorge, Platteklip Gorge and India Venster are the most popular, for various reasons.
I'm afraid of heights. Will I be okay hiking up?
Yes. There are routes with little or no exposure to heights.
Are there routes suitable for children?
Can we take the cable car up and walk down?
Sure, but this is not really recommended. Two reasons: one, it doesn’t give you a sense of achievement; and two, having seen the view, there’s no climax anymore – no goal to spur you on – which makes the descent feel like a pointless plod. Also, hiking down might be easier on the lungs, but can be tough on the knees and often requires more technical footwork and a greater sense of balance.
Can we overnight on Table Mountain?
Although camping (which includes sleeping rough) is not permitted, there are legal options – staying in huts – if you want to spend the night on the mountain. Please inquire for more information.
No luck here? Feel free to contact us with any other questions you might have.