The cable car will be closed from 28 July till 10 August for its annual maintenance. This means that if you want to get to the iconic and famous tabletop summit of Table Mountain, you have to hike up – and back down. Reaching the summit of a mountain is only the halfway mark. Downhill might not be so tough on the lungs and legs, but it’s technical and hard on the joints, especially the knees. Do not underestimate hiking down Table Mountain; it’s harder than you think. Total elevation gain along the quickest and easiest (least scenic and exciting) route is about 2250 feet (680 meters). Other, nicer routes involve about 30% more elevation gain and / or more technicality. If you have knee problems – active or dormant – then you will take strain on the descent. And if you have the energy, it’s a great idea to explore the tabletop summit by walking both to the eastern and western edges of the ‘Table’ for a full range of views.
Table Mountain hikes lead up different sides of the mountain, each offering unique views, topography and vegetation as well as mood. Route choice is important, as it can make or break the experience. If you’re not a hiker, not in great shape or not a nature-lover, and you want to get to the summit as quick as possible, then Platteklip Gorge is the route for you. But if you’re keen to experience more of the mountain while having an adventure along the way, then there are many Table Mountain hikes to choose from. Hiking Table Mountain is a unique and rewarding experience that allows you to get closer acquainted with the mountain than with the cable car. While walking down might not be the most exciting and stimulating part of the hike, don’t let it rob you of the overall experience. Most mountains involve both climbing up and down, so it shouldn’t be seen as bad luck for missing out on the cable car.