Hiking Table Mountain at the crack of dawn – 5 October 2013

Summer is around the corner. The sun is rising earlier and the days are warming up. When it comes to Table Mountain hiking, few things ruin a hike as much as a late start on a hot day. To get the best out of your hike, start out at sunrise. Early bird gets the worm and it also applies to Table Mountain hiking. Here’s why:

– It’s cooler. Heat makes hiking up Table Mountain much tougher and very unpleasant (unless you’re a masochist). Starting anytime after 7 am in summer is flirting with trouble. The summer heat can be debilitating, especially for someone straight out of a cold, wintry climate. Faint with exhaustion and dripping with sweat, it’s hard to appreciate your surroundings and enjoy the view.

– The light is softer and there are more contrasts – the best time for taking great photos. As the sun rises, the colors become washed out and the air becomes hazy. Early-morning light enables you to capture the landscape at its best.

– The prevailing summer wind, the Southeaster, tends to spring up later in the day, closing the cable car and necessitating a walk-down. It’s also highly unpleasant – and awkward – hiking in the wind.

– You make the most of your day. Starting out at 5 means you’re back down by 10 am, leaving you with almost a full day for exploring the city and surrounds.

Sure, there are cool days in summer, when a 8 am start won’t result in heat exhaustion, but then it’s often because of a cold front that covers the mountain in cloud, and cloud on the mountain means no views. The fleeting discomfort of getting up early pales in comparison to the discomfort of toiling up Table Mountain for 3 to 5 hours under the blazing African sun. Hiking Table Mountain at sunrise ensures that you get the most out of the experience.

(c) www.hiketablemountain.co.za