The internet contains a glut of Table Mountain hiking tips. How to optimize the experience, how best to prepare, what route to take, what to expect, etc. Unless you are a Table Mountain expert, travelers’ wide-ranging opinions and suggestions can be bewildering. Below follows my contribution: quick and easy practical information, distilled from many years of experience with all kinds of travelers down to 5 tips, intended to cut through the clutter and help you get the most out of your Table Mountain hiking experience.
- If you are unfit, improve your fitness level in the runup to your trip. To really enjoy hiking Table Mountain, you need at least a moderate fitness level. If you are unfit, you will take physical strain and this will detract from the experience. You would then need perseverance and determination to offset your lack of fitness.
- Plan Table Mountain hiking for early in your stay to allow for spare days in event of bad weather. Table Mountain generates its own micro-climate. The mountain gets a lot of cloud, even in summer, so do not leave hiking Table Mountain for the last day of your visit. It is perfectly safe to hike Table Mountain in cloudy conditions, with a guide, but you get little or no views.
- Expect all Table Mountain hikes to be a hike, not a walk. Despite its proximity to a city and the presence of a cable car to the summit, Table Mountain is still very much a mountain. The terrain is rugged and unforgiving, the weather is capricious, and the mountain covers a vast area. The famous tabletop summit constitutes only about 8% of Table Mountain’s overall surface area. People underestimate the mountain all the time, resulting in ordeals, some involving mountain rescue.
- Make use of a qualified, experienced and competent mountain-guide. Take the guesswork out of route selection, the uncertainty out of weather-prediction, the anxiety out of route-finding. Get to the best viewpoints, experience hidden gems, learn about the mountain and the fascinating environment, relax and have fun and great conversation with a knowledgeable local and passionate mountaineer. In a nutshell, optimize your Table Mountain hiking experience through using a guide.
- As with life, it is about the journey, not the destination. Reaching the summit is the cherry on the cake. The fun and adventure are found along the way. The best memories are made along the way. Resist the temptation to hike Table Mountain for the sake of saying that you have hiked it. Immerse yourself in the moment, step by upward step, soaking up the views and surroundings, pristine nature and grandeur. It is rare that I see someone more thrilled and gratified by reaching the summit than from the ascent itself.