The oldest, easiest and most direct route to the summit and therefore also the most popular, so expect company along the way. Follows a well-constructed trail up a deep ravine on the iconic front face of the mountain, featuring imposing cliffs in its upper reaches. Tops out near the upper cable station. Extension: from the ravine head, traverse the length of the famous table top summit to the highest point on the mountain for more great views, an extra 1.5 hours and R350 pp.
Time: 2.5 to 3 hours
Cost: R900 per person
Platteklip Gorge is the oldest, quickest and easiest hiking route up Table Mountain, but also the least scenic and exciting. That doesn’t mean it’s NOT scenic and exciting – just the least compared to other routes. Also, it doesn’t mean it’s easy, just the easiest compared to other routes; it’s still strenuous. The route leads up a deep ravine, pretty along its lower sections (especially in winter, with a stream cascading) and imposing along its upper sections, where the ravine’s beetling sidewalls converge. Most people who hike Table Mountain opt for Platteklip Gorge, not because it’s such a great route, but because it’s the easiest to complete and easiest to find. While it’s more exciting than taking the cable car to the summit, it doesn’t do Table Mountain justice as far as hiking goes.
The hike itself consists of big rock steps with a tiny bit of scrambling low down the route. The hiking is rather tedious, so making use of a guide adds more value in terms of learning about the mountain and for security in the event of illness or injury rather than route-finding. As Table Mountain’s oldest route – ascended in 1503 by the mountain’s first ascensionists – it carries a lot of history and lore.
As a mountain-guiding company who offers hikes up all Table Mountain routes, we naturally steer people away from Platteklip Gorge and try to get them to attempt a more rewarding and scenic route. But if you’re out of shape, afraid of heights and have little interest in nature or adventure, or you’re under a time-constraint, then Platteklip Gorge is the best route for you. If you’ve never been on a mountain before, it will still leave you enraptured.
Platteklip Gorge is the default descent on days when the cableway is closed due to strong wind, as it involves no technical sections or exposure to heights. The descent should not be underestimated, especially after a hike-up: the gradient is steep and the joint-jarring steps feels interminable. But despite this, it’s the easiest and safest way off Table Mountain when the cable car is not an option.
Lots of local hikers snub Platteklip Gorge as a ‘easy’ hike. Beware of such sentiments. Start the route late on a hot day in summer (after 7am), and you’re not in great shape, and perhaps neglected to pack ample water (thinking it’s an ‘easy’ hike), you’re in for a very big surprise! Same goes for stormy days when dark cloud engulfs the mountain and the wind comes howling down the gorge…