With summer fast approaching, some things need to be said about the importance of starting your Table Mountain hike early in the morning.
Heat can be debilitating and enervating, especially when you find yourself toiling up a mountain under the blazing African sun, still acclimatized to the northern hemisphere’s wintry weather. Hiking up Table Mountain is strenuous enough, and doing so under a torrid sun makes it more so. A late start on a hot day pretty much ruins the experience. Streaming with sweat, your head feeling like a hot potato, it’s tough to enjoy the views and appreciate the landscape.
Let’s look at the advantages of starting out at dawn when hiking Table Mountain:
- The air is cooler, which makes hiking easier.
- Less focus on the heat, more on the view and surroundings.
- Softer and clearer light (often washed-out later in the day).
- The air is fresher and filled with more birdsong.
- You sweat less, so lower discomfort level.
- Better on the skin: less sun damage.
- Back down by 10am (on some routes), leaving almost a full day for sightseeing.
- Minimizes chances of cloud on the mountain (no views) and strong wind (cable car closure – walk down). The Southeaster – Cape Town’s prevailing summer wind – often sets in later in the day.
Summer in Cape Town is not always hot; often it’s cool and windy, so there are days when a late start won’t be a train-smash. But taking all the above factors into consideration, an early start even on a cool day makes sense.
Making use of the coolness and freshness of dawn to hike up Table Mountain is a great way to optimize the experience and make the most of your hike.