Table Mountain hiking routes: Grotto-Cairn Traverse – 1 April 2016

Table Mountain hikes come in all levels of difficulty and adventure, from straightforward trails along well-defined trails involving nothing more technical than big rock steps to challenging ascents leading up near-vertical cliffs and traversing rugged terrain. Of all Table Mountain hiking routes, Grotto-Fountain-Cairn Traverse (GFC) ranks as one of the top three toughest. It ticks all the challenge boxes: strenuous, exposed to heights, technical at times, covering broken terrain, tricky route-finding. In short, the kind of route Indiana Jones would choose to hike Table Mountain.

GFC leads up a wild and dramatic part of the mountain, first tunnelling through tall shrub, then indigenous jungle and up a steep, treacherous slope to the start of the spicy part of the route: a sensational traverse picking an ingenious line across an expanse of vertical terrain. Table Mountain hiking does not get more exhilarating than this. Sandwiched between a beetling cliff and dizzying heights, you feel more like a mountaineer or explorer than a hiker.

You don’t need climbing experience to tackle GFC, but a good fitness level, a solid sense of adventure and a head for heights. The route is not for the faint-hearted, and should not be attempted without a competent guide. It allows you to experience the wilder side of Table Mountain without taking to full-on rock-climbing. Off-the-beaten track and threading through some spectacular topography, the route is as much an experience of nature as an adventure.

If you’re in good shape, adventurous and okay with heights, and you love nature, then GFC will delight. It’s Table Mountain unplugged, showcasing the essence and intrinsic nature of the mountain few people realize to even exist.

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