About 65 hiking routes lead up Table Mountain, each offering a unique experience. Hike Table Mountain is the only mountain-guiding company that offers guided hikes and scrambles up all these routes. Route choice plays a very important part in your overall experience of hiking Table Mountain. Several factors determine route choice, e.g. fitness level, sense of adventure, ability to deal with narrow ledges, personal preferences / interests and time frame. Deciding on the best route can be bewildering if you don’t know the mountain. Best to consult the experts to ensure you optimize your experience of this iconic landmark. Table Mountain hikes very greatly in views, level of dificulty as well as terrain and atmosphere. Below follows a rough breakdown of the more popular route options along with distingishing features:
Platteklip Gorge: the quickest and easiest route, but least scenic and exciting. If you’re unfit, don’t want to be challenged technically, don’t care much about nature or you are short on time, then this is the route for you. About 90% of people hiking Table Mountain takes this route. It’s therefore the most popular and well-known route only because it is the easiest (read “easiest”, not “easy”) route, not nicest.
Skeleton Gorge: leads up from the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. Offers jungle setting and inland views on the way up. Tops out at the highest point on the mountain (about 20 meters / 70 feet higher than the famous tabletop plateau), from where it leads across the length of the “table”. Long and strenuous, so you need to be in pretty good shape to enjoy it. Scores low on the adventure scale. Takes in all the floral zones on the mountain. If you don’t like jungle settings and / or prefer sea views, don’t bother with it.
12 Apostles: actually, the name refers to the chain of peaks extending behind the famous tabletop summit, all technically part of Table Mountain. Many routes lead up the Apostles, the easiest Kasteelspoort. As strenuous / long as Skeleton Gorge (about 4 hours), and also scoring low on the adventure scale (minimal scrambling and heights i.e. narrow ledges), it offers sea and peninsula views on the ascent. If you love nature, and you’re in fairly good shape with an aversion for heights, then this route will delight.
India Venster: arguably the best half-day route to the summit. Vintage Table Mountain hiking, involving scrambling and heights, nothing extreme. Superb views, dramatic topography. Not too strenuous. Suitable, but not restricted to the more adventurous. If you’re not good with narrow ledges, you need to be up for a challenge and prepared to step outside your comfort zone. Early starts in summer sees you back at your hotel in time for breakfast, so no need to allocate an entire day towards hiking Table Mountain.
Essentially, if you want to get the best Table Mountain has to offer, then you need to either face the challenge of a more strenuous route or the challenge of a route that involves narrow ledges. Hiking Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge is still a memorable experience, but doesn’t quite do the mountain justice as far as hiking goes.
If you’re fit, adventurous and love being off-the-beaten track, there are more challenging, wild and adventurous routes to choose from among the 60-odd remaining routes! Table Mountain hikes exist for all levels of experience and challenge, and meets all preferences and interests (bar snow-shoeing!).