“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air, that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
Robert Louis Stevenson
Different landscapes inspire people. Some prefer open fields, bright and breezy, with rolling hills stretching away to the horizon; others respond to cliffs and gorges, fissures and pinnacles, areas of geological upheaval and drama. Then there are those who find peace in the gloom of forests, a place of shadows, mystery and seclusion.
Table Mountain’s shrubby and craggy north face gives little indication of its lush east and south sides, where indigenous Afro-montane forest carpet the lower slopes and deep ravines, and verdant vegetation cling to the steep upper flanks. Threaded with lianas and boasting 17 species of fern, these forest are reminiscent of a tropical jungle. They make for an enchanting setting not often associated with mountains, adding to the diverse flora and landscapes of Table Mountain.
If you know your way around the mountain, you could structure a single hike to include all floral zones, from forest to field to cliffs, even bogs. Table Mountain hiking is all about variety: landscape, sounds, vegetation, weather and views. You seldom find monotony on the mountain.
When planning a hike up Table Mountain, it’s important to consider how you feel about forests. Some find them oppressive, unsettling and repetitious, in which case it’s best to pick a route that leads up open slope.