The question whether to make us of a Table Mountain guide quite often does the rounds on social media and travel sites. To many visitors, Table Mountain ranks top in their list of sights and activities in and around Cape Town, so they naturally want to ensure an optimal experience of this iconic and famous landmark. In my opinion, there are two primary reasons why you should make use of a guide: to ensure a safe experience and to optimize your experience. Let us take a closer look at each.
Table Mountain is far wilder and bigger than it appears from below. The weather is capricious and the terrain unforgiving. Trails run the length and breadth of the mountain, many involving tricky scrambling and narrow ledges / exposure to heights; other, used by rock-climbers to gain the start of their climb. It is extremely easy to get lost, more so given that cloud often boils up in minutes, engulfing the mountain and complicating route-finding. Despite the mountain’s proximity to a city, it is not to be trifled with. Making use of a guide for your Table Mountain hike will ensure your safety. It takes the worry and anxiety out of route-finding, weather-prediction, struggling group members, a potential ankle sprain, an onset of illness and other contingencies, allowing you to fully savour the experience. This optimizes the experience and brings us to the second reason for hiking Table Mountain with a guide.
Table Mountain’s plant life is exceptional for many reasons. Botanists flock to the mountain from far and wide to study the singular diversity and endemism. And if plants are not your thing, the mountain’s animal life, geology or history is sure to pique your interest. Making use of a mountain-guide gives you access to this treasure trove of knowledge, stories and lore, bringing the mountain to life and thereby enhancing your experience of it. Furthermore, a guide will get you off the beaten track and share some of Table Mountain’s hidden gems. Also, a guide will allow you to do the best route within your fitness and ability levels, giving you the best views of the mountain and surrounds. For the wild of heart, a guide will add adventure to the experience without added risk, by making use of a rope on exposed sections.
Table Mountain is far more than just its famous tabletop summit. A wonderworld of exploration and discovery awaits behind the flat-topped façade. If you appreciate nature and want to experience pristine wilderness and solitude, a guide will make all the difference. There are many Table Mountain routes, each with their own character. Since route choice forms a crucial component to an optimal Table Mountain hiking experience, making use of a guide makes a lot of sense for this reason alone. Different Table Mountain hikes showcase different facets of the mountain, so having a guide take care of route selection goes a long way in optimizing your experience of the mountain.
Finally, be sure to make use of a qualified, accredited and competent mountain guide with an intimate knowledge of Table Mountain. You also want your guide to be highly experienced in dealing with people on the mountain and have a keen awareness of your preferences and abilities, and the desire to exceed expectations. Mountain-guiding is far more than mere route-finding, at least in the context of Table Mountain hiking, so do not settle for average.