Hiking Table Mountain on the edge – 20 October 2013

Table Mountain’s tabletop summit offers far more delights and discovery than a ride up in the cable car leads one to believe. The upper cable station is an island of civilization set on the northwest corner of the Table Mountain massif, which covers an area of 57 square kilometres, most of it pristine wilderness. The summit drops off sheer on all but the back (south) side, forming a well-defined edge that one can follow almost all the way round – a Table Mountain hike no one ever bothers with, but in my opinion a most delightful hike. It takes one to the remote side of the ‘Table’, where very few people ever venture, offering glorious views towards the east (not seen from the upper cable station), back onto Table Mountain and across to neighbouring Devil’s Peak. About half the way passes through a landscape of amazing wind-sculpted boulders and eventually leads to the highest point on the mountain. The scenery changes as the summit curves round to the south, bringing new horizons into view. Much of the way offers unspoilt nature: peace, quiet and solitude – a far cry from the bustle on the opposite side of the summit at the upper cable station.

This route can be done as a stand-alone hike, using the cable car to gain the summit, or in addition to a hike up the mountain, energy permitting. It is recommended to make use of a Table Mountain guide or to go with someone who knows the summit plateau well, as it’s easy to lose your way and stray off trail, endangering yourself and doing damage to the sensitive summit environment.

Table Mountain hiking offers boundless opportunity for adventure and to experience nature, no matter what your level of fitness or experience. More than 20 years of hiking Table Mountain and the area still has me in raptures every time I visit.

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