Table Mountain hikes: diverse landscape – 29 July 2020

We all love a great view, and while there is no shortage of views when hiking Table Mountain, the landscape contributes to the experience. Table Mountain covers an area of about 58 square kilometers (about 22 square miles), allowing the formation of micro-climates. This in turn give rise to micro-habitats. Combined with the dissected topography, the landscape rivals the views in terms of diversity and engagement.

Most Table Mountain hikes can easily be tailored to include the dominant landscape types. Afromontane forest (reminiscent of tropical jungle), marshes, boulder fields, mossy fissures, shrubland, talus slopes, secluded dells – a different environment greets you almost round every corner.

View north from the southernmost tip of the Table Mountain range.

Diverse landscapes really play their part on days when you lose your views to cloud. Table Mountain gets a lot of cloud. It often boils up out of nowhere, engulfing the mountain and blotting out all views. That’s when your focus falls on the immediate surroundings. Fortunately, there are very few Table Mountain hiking routes that contains extended stretches sections of nondescript trail. And if the landscape fails to inspire, the mountain’s fascinating plant life will maintain interest.

An aerial view reveals Table Mountain’s sprawling topography. Each side of the mountain offers different views, vegetation, rock-formations and even mood. Different Table Mountain hiking routes showcase different features of the mountain. A route like Skeleton Gorge offers jungle setting along the first half, then shrubland further up before traversing the marshy upper plateau (tabletop summit). Routes on the 12 Apostles offer sea views and mostly various types of shrub habitats. India Venster is big on dramatic landscape (as opposed to floral) in the way of imposing cliffs and striking rock-formations.

Then there is the Lower Plateau, covering around a third of Table Mountain’s surface area and not visible from the city. Located behind the famous tabletop summit at a slightly lower elevation, its undulations and hummocks hide many hidden gems: caves, rock labyrinths, sculpted boulders, secluded dells and immense floral diversity. Many Table Mountain routes pass through at least a corner of the Back Table, allowing you to experience this pristine environment on your way to the summit.

Table Mountain hiking maximizes your range of views, but also your engagement with the environment. Far more than only views, Table Mountain is a tapestry of life, a microcosm of nature in all its endless diversity and intrigue.