India Venster

Arguably the best half-day route to the summit, this sensational route leads up an impressive part of the mountain, offering superb city and sea views. Involves scrambling and exposure to heights (narrow ledges – nothing extreme) about 15% of the way, therefore ideal for, but not restricted to the more adventurous. Dramatic topography and varied hiking.

Grade: B

Time: 3.5 hours

Cost: R900 per person

India Venster is arguably the best half-day route to the summit IF you’re okay with heights (narrow ledges). The route leads up a dramatic part of Table Mountain, threading an ingenious line through imposing cliffs. It involves scrambling (elementary climbing) and exposure to heights about 15% of the way – nothing extreme, but you need at least a fairly good head for heights and ideally also a sense of adventure. The views are sensational, the hiking engaging, and the surroundings stimulating. It is less strenuous compared to other classic Table Mountain routes like 12 Apostles and Skeleton Gorge, but more technical (necessitates the use of hands to negotiate vertical rock sections). While the route is very doable for most people accompanied by a competent guide, it should not be attempted without a guide or even with an inexperienced and incompetent guide. The route is not to be trifled with; but with a competent guide, it’s a fantastic way to experience Table Mountain. The route is child-friendly; we’ve taken kids as young as 6-years-old up there without trouble

Scrambling can be defined as the grey area between hiking and climbing. It adds spice / adventure to the hike, giving you a real sense of climbing the mountain. The narrow ledges require a decent head for heights: if you only have a mild aversion to heights and you’re up for a challenge and prepared to step outside your comfort zone, then you will enjoy the route. But if you’re terrified of heights, best choose another route (unless you’re a masochist and determined to overcome your fear of heights).

Pros and cons: there really are no cons to the route other than being unsuitable to someone who suffers from fear of heights, or who have a very low sense of adventure. The route ticks practically all the boxes of a perfect Table Mountain route: imposing topography, dramatic views, exciting hiking, a moderate measure of adventure, all within a 3.5-hour hike (arriving back down by 10am with the early starts in summer and spring). If you’re at least fairly good with heights and your sense of adventure exceeds a middling fitness level, then India Venster is a great choice.

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