Hiking Table Mountain: how fit must you be – 16 June 2016

The short answer: you need to be in reasonable shape to enjoy hiking Table Mountain up one of the more scenic routes. The key words: enjoy and scenic routes.

There are many Table Mountain hikes. Routes lead up all sides of the mountain, offering different views, topography, vegetation, technicality and adventure levels. Platteklip Gorge is the quickest and easiest route to the summit, but also the least scenic and exciting. If you’re unfit, or not prepared to push yourself physically, or afraid of heights, or short on time, or just want to bag the mountain as another summit, tick it off your bucket list, or if you’re feeling unwell for whatever reason and you’re determined to still hike up as opposed to taking the cableway, then consider Platteklip Gorge. However, if you want to see better views, experience more of the mountain, experience more adventure and excitement, get more intimately acquainted with the mountain, then consider one of the other 50-odd routes.

Platteklip Gorge aside, hiking Table Mountain up any route is not for someone merely wanting to get to the top. All the other routes are more challenging – in different ways. To simplify, for you to enjoy these routes, you either need at least a moderate level of fitness or a moderate head for heights coupled with a moderate sense of adventure. Lacking in any of these would require you to step outside your comfort zone, either mentally or physically – in some cases, both.

If you don’t want to do Platteklip Gorge – understandably then, broadly speaking, routes either involve about 30% more distance as well as uphill, or scrambling and exposure to heights. Quite often, these two types overlap: it’s not a precise science. Table Mountain hiking, like climbing any mountain, is far more than just getting the views: it’s also about challenging yourself and staking out new personal boundaries – all of which ensures a sense of achievement when you reach the summit.

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