More than 100 hiking routes lead up Table Mountain, and they each offer a unique experience. Difficulty ranges from straightforward rock-steps to strenuous scrambles marked by rugged terrain (bush / loose rock) and exposure to heights. Some see multiple hiking groups each day, others haven’t seen a single person in years, perhaps decades. Choosing the best route for you and your group – i.e. the route best suited to your preferences, experience, fitness level and sense of adventure – can be tricky, even bewildering. Table Mountain hiking routes offer much diversity in terms of views, terrain and levels of challenge / adventure. To simplify matters, consider the following three types of Table Mountain hikes:
The first type is represented by a single route, Platteklip Gorge: the quickest and easiest route to the summit, but not the nicest. Compared to other Table Mountain hiking routes, it is the least technical (minimal scrambling), involves the least amount of exposure to heights (virtually nil) with the easiest terrain (well-defined, rock-steps). Note: just because it’s the easiest route doesn’t mean it’s easy.
The second type is slightly more strenuous, but a lot more technical, involving scrambling and exposure to heights (narrow ledges). An ideal example is India Venster, arguably the best half-day Table Mountain hiking route. The scrambling and heights are not extreme, but you need at least a fairly good head for heights. If you have a mild aversion for heights, then you need a solid sense of adventure to make up for it, or you need to be preapred to step outside your comfort zone. If you’re terrified of heights, best go with another route.
The third type involves minimal technicality, but is strenuous, involving about 30% more distance as well as uphill than the abovementioned routes. Kasteelspoort (on the 12 Apostles) and Skeleton Gorge are prime examples. While these routes score quite low on the adventure scale, they require a pretty high fitness level to ensure enjoyment. If you’re not fit, you need ample enthusiasm and determination to complete them; you need to be preapred to push yourself physically.
Notwithstanding the array of route options available for hiking Table Mountain, there’s no route up Table Mountain in existence for you if you want the best route with the best views and you’re unfit, afraid of heights and not prepared to push yourself physically. To enjoy the better routes, you need a sense of adventure and / or a reasonable fitness level. If you lack either, then you need to be preapred to step outside your comfort zone (within limits) or you need to be preapred to push yoursefl physically.
Table Mountain is, as the name implies, a mountain, and as such requires a measure of fitness, determination and enthusiasm if you want the distinction and sense of achievement that comes from climbing it. The rewards are many for those who are up for the challenge and prepared to put in the effort.