Of the 60-odd Table Mountain hiking routes, India Venster in my opinion ranks as one of the best. It leads up an imposing part of the mountain, taking an ingenious line that offers varied views and engaging hiking. Routes like Skeleton Gorge and Platteklip Gorge might be more popular and well-known, but not necessarily better.
Different Table Mountain hikes puts on display different facets of the mountain. India Venster packs a lot of views and terrain for a half-day hike. It involves scrambling (elementary climbing) and exposure to heights (vertical drops) about 15% of the way – nothing extreme, but you need at least a fairly good head for heights in order to enjoy the route. If you suspect yourself to be wary of heights, then you need a solid sense of adventure, or a good measure of motivation and determination, to offset your aversion for heights. I’ve taken 6-year-old girls up the route without trouble; and a 79-year-old couple. But I’ve also seen brawny 20-something guys tremble with fear. Most important is that you only tackle the route in the company of a competent mountain-guide who knows the route well.
Scrambling is a great way to break the monotony of slope-slogging. It’s more stimulating and fun, allowing you to get up close and personal with the mountain. It also makes you feel like you’re really climbing / conquering the mountain. The scrambling on India Venster, and the heights, are not as severe as You Tube videos depict. I’ve had lots of hikers who were at first wary of the scrambling and heights, only to reach the summit vowing those sections to have been their favourite!
India Venster takes in 3 sides of the mountain – another advantage, as you get different views on each side. So there’s no shortage of spectacular views. It tackles the famous and iconic front façade of Table Mountain head-on, only sneaking round to the back near the summit to circumvent the sheer uppermost cliffs.
Because of the scrambling and heights, India Venster almost never gets crowded. Most weekdays outside local school holidays, you’re unlucky if you encounter more than two other groups. So the route offers much in the way of nature, peace and quiet. Furthermore, it’s not strenuous compared to many other Table Mountain hiking routes, so you don’t need to be in great shape to enjoy it. In fact, many less-fit hikers find the scrambling easier than uphill slogging.
Hiking Table Mountain via India Venster does the mountain justice in that it allows you to experience different facets of the mountain, all packed into a 3.5 hour hike. Summer starting time is 5.30am (sunrise is 5.15am) to beat the heat, which means you can be back at your hotel in time for breakfast and left with more than half a day for other activities and sightseeing.