Lots of people are surprised that there are several hiking routes up Table Mountain – around 65, actually. The most famous is Platteklip Gorge, with Skeleton Gorge a close second. It’s easty to assume the most popular route to be the best, but it’s not that simple. Route choice is an important ingredient to a memorable Table Mountain hiking experience. So how to go about it? Consider the following:
- Your fitness level. All routes are strenuous, so a base fitness is required to enjoy the experience, but some route are more strenuous than others and require good fitness to be enjoyable. You don’t have to be fit to hike Table Mountain, but it makes it more enjoyable if you are.
- Your sense of adventure. Some routes are more advernturous than other. What constitutes adventure when it comes to Table Mountain hiking? Exposure to heights (narrow ledges) and scrambling (elementary climbing).
- Your reason for wanting to hike Table Mountain. Adventure, nature, exercise, bucket-list, etc. It’s likely to be a combination of reasons, but there usually is a primary reason.
- Type of views you like. All Table Mountain hikes offer great views, but some offer better views than others. And they all offer different views. Routes up the east side offer jungle setting / inland views; routes up the front offer city views; routes up the 12 Apostles offer sea views. Detours, variations and additions exist to take in more views.
Be careful to go on the recommendation of someone you don’t now well, or who doesn’t know you well. What’s easy, or hard, for one person is not always the same for another. Don’t blindly follow the route suggestion of your host, concierge, taxi-driver, local connection / friend, tour guide or even tourist information. These people most of the time lack the knowledge and understanding of what’s involved in route selection, and they can rob you of a great experience through suggesting a route not ideally suited to you. Table Mountain hiking is far, far more than Platteklip Gorge, despite its popularity.