Kasteelspoort is a hiking route up Table Mountain, of late popularized by a dramatic and photogenic viewpoint known as the Diving Board.
Here’s what you need to know about this classic Table Mountain route.
Kasteelspoort Hike Duration: 4 to 4.5 hours
Distance: 6.5 kilometres / 4 miles
Elevation gain: 900 meter / 3000 feet
Cost: R1300 per person, R1200 pp if others join
Kasteelspoort means Castle’s Portal in Afrikaans (originally Dutch). The route leads up the Twelve Apostles, a chain of seaboard peaks extending behind the famous tabular summit of Table Mountain. Once known as the Kasteelberge (Castle Mountains) and also Geuvelberge (Gable Mountains) due to their castellated and crenulated appearance from below, the Twelve Apostles range is considered part of Table Mountain. The route’s name comes from the fact that it leads up the easiest ravine on the Apostles (the portal to the ‘castle’), combined with the route’s location next to a peak / buttress formerly known as Kasteel’s Berg (now known as Postern Buttress).
Strictly speaking, the Kasteelspoort hike terminates on the summit of the Apostles, a long way from the famous flat-topped summit of Table Mountain, location of upper cable station. Most non-local hikers want to reach the summit of Table Mountain and prefer a cable car descent (as opposed to hiking down). Given these preferences, we extend the route to the summit of Table Mountain. Further reference to the route in this article includes the extension unless stated otherwise.
Kasteelspoort Hike Difficulty
The Kasteelspoort route is technically easy (minimal scrambling and narrow ledges), but strenuous. It requires at least a moderate fitness level for optimal enjoyment. If your fitness is below average, you will take strain, likely a lot. Kasteelspoort is the easiest route up the Twelve Apostles to the summit of Table Mountain. Many other routes lead up the Apostles, some more technical or strenuous – or both.
Rock-steps with a few bits of light scrambling. The Kasteelspoort trail leading up from Blinkwater Nek involves a series of easy ladders (minimal exposure to heights). The variation further down Echo Valley involves hiking only. The route dries off quickly after rain.
The Kasteelspoort hiking trail undulates through secluded valleys and past wind-sculpted rocks, with a fascinating diversity of indigenous shrub (called fynbos) throughout. Sea views along the first 1.5 hours. Further up, you get superb views down the length of the Cape Peninsula (as far as Cape Point on a clear day) and onto the rest of the Table Mountain range. Overall, the route takes in a big chunk of Table Mountain and showcases unique features of the mountain.
- The Diving Board, an airy rock projection overlooking Camps Bay and the Atlantic coast. It offers an exhilarating photo opportunity (but shouldn’t dictate route choice).
- Blinkwater Peak, a 15-minute detour from the main trail, ranks as one of the top viewpoints on Table Mountain.
- The historic Table Mountain reservoirs
- Rendezvous Cave (30-minute detour)
- Valley of Isolation subterranean stream
Safety and Security
The route involves a few bits of easy scrambling. The exposure to heights is minimal. Not suitable if you have an extreme fear of heights. As far as security goes, at the time of writing (June 2021), the route is very safe.
Pros and Cons
How does Kasteelspoort compare to other popular Table Mountain hiking routes? Here are the key distinguishing features:
Compared to Platteklip Gorge:
- Offers more nature and views
- About 35% more strenuous (more distance as well as elevation gain)
- Sea views vs city views
- A bit more technical (scrambling and exposure to heights)
- Much less people; more peace and quiet
Compared to Skeleton Gorge:
- Sea views on the first half vs jungle setting on the first half
- Same level of technicality and physicality
- Less people; somewhat more peace and quiet
- Cooler in summer, less slippery in winter
Compared to India Venster:
- About 30% more strenuous
- Involves less scrambling and heights (therefore less adventurous)
- Sea views vs city and sea views
- Less dramatic rock-formations
- Somewhat less people
Who would enjoy Kasteelspoort most?
You’re in pretty good shape, averse to busy trails, love nature, dislike heights (narrow ledges) and / or don’t need adventure when hiking.
Who should avoid the route?
You’re adventurous, not in great shape and don’t care that much about nature.
How do the views compare to other popular routes?
This is a tough one. Different views and landscapes appeal to different people. India Venster arguably offers the best views, closely followed by Kasteelspoort and Skeleton Gorge, with Platteklip Gorge lagging quite a bit.
How fit should you be?
A moderate fitness level and good stamina are required to enjoy the route. Even so, you need to be prepared to push physically. The terrain consists of rock steps, often uneven, with a few bits of scrambling here and there. If your fitness is below average, you’re going to need more determination and grit to complete the route. The route is not suitable for anyone suffering from impaired balance.
Making use of a competent, knowledgeable and experienced Table Mountain guide optimizes the experience through making it safer, more enjoyable, insightful and taking the guesswork out of how to best experience Table Mountain.