One of the wildest and most challenging routes up Table Mountain, this one’s for the adventurers out there. Leads up a series of jungled ravines off-the-beaten track, involving narrow ledges and tricky scrambling. Only a faint trail across rugged terrain (bushy / loose rock) for much of the way, this route provides an unrivalled wilderness experience on a remote sector of the mountain.

Grade: B+

Time: 5 to 6 hours

Cost: R2100 per person

Hiddingh-Ascension ranks as one of the most challenging and adventurous routes up Table Mountain. It leads up the lush eastern slopes of Table Mountain, offering jungle setting along the lower sections. The route involves scrambling, exposure to heights and rugged terrain (bush / loose rock), so a good fitness level, decent head for heights and solid sense of adventure will ensure enjoyment and appreciation of this off-the-beaten track offering. It leads up a wild and dramatic part of Table Mountain, providing adventure and a wilderness experience.

The middle third of the route offers a variation known as Ferny Dell: more challenging than the standard, but also more beautiful and exciting. The scrambling and exposure to heights are more severe, so we use a rope in places to ensure safety. No climbing experience required. This variation is in my opinion one of the wildest and most beautiful places on Table Mountain. But not to be attempted without a competent guide, as route-finding is complex and the scrambling tricky as well as very exposed in places.

The route tops out near Maclear’s Beacon, highest point on Table Mountain, from where we traverse the length of the famous tabletop summit to the upper cable station. If you’re up for more adventure, we finish off via Carrel’s Ledge, a sensational and ingenious traverse along a narrow ledge. Not for the faint-hearted…

If you’re an experienced hiker and you’re in good shape, adventurous and with a head for heights, and you love exploring off-the-beaten track, then Hiddingh-Ascension is for you. For everyone else, best to give this one a miss. The route’s major appeals are adventure and nature. The views are great, too, but if you’re preoccupied with getting great views, then one of the other routes are better suited.

For those up for the challenge: there are few cons to Hiddingh-Ascension other than maybe the fact that you don’t get views along the first half (being under the jungle’s canopy); although, if you appreciate jungle settings, then this is actually an advantage. Also, it makes you appreciate and marvel at the views further up even more. Pros: hiking where few people ever go; feeling like an explorer, or Indiana Jones; communion with nature; experiencing vintage Table Mountain; covering all the floral zones on Table Mountain.

Book the Hiddingh-Ascension hike here