Three types of routes when hiking Table Mountain – 4 February 2015

There are about 38 hiking routes up Table Mountain. Some haven’t been done in decades, so it’s debatable whether they still qualify as official routes. Table Mountain hikes that top out on the famous and iconic tabletop summit of Table Mountain can broadly be classed into three groups. The first group comprises a single route: Platteklip Gorge. It’s the quickest and easiest route to the summit, but also the least scenic and exciting. It’s better than taking the cable car to the summit, but as far as Table Mountain hiking goes, it doesn’t do the mountain justice.

The second group comprises routes that involves scrambling and exposure to heights. These routes are technical (no experience required) and potentially intimidating, especially if you don’t have a good head for heights, but not very strenuous (relative to other Table Mountain hikes bar Platteklip Gorge). They offer more adventure and typically lead up the more dramatic parts of the mountain. These routes are ideal for those with a sense of adventure or a good head for heights and not-so-great fitness level. Even if you’re not great with heights, as long as you are up for a challenge, you will enjoy these routes (in the company of a competent mountain-guide). The third group consists of longer, rambling routes that sneak of the less-steep back and sides of the mountain. They involve minimal / light scrambling and exposure to heights, but more distance and elevation gain – the latter because they start lower down the mountain. More fitness is required, and you don’t need a good head for heights. Best avoided if you are adventurous, as some stretches will bore you. These routes also appeal to nature lovers: those with an interest in the bird and plant life; and those looking for some relaxing and meditative communion with nature.

Of course, Table Mountain hiking is not entirely that simple, and several nuances of routes exist. But this is a broad guide as to the nature of Table Mountain hiking routes.  It follows then that if you have a low fitness level and you’re not adventurous and you’re not good with heights either, and also not prepared to step outside your comfort zone, that Platteklip Gorge would be the most suitable route for you. And if you’re both very fit and adventurous, and also up for a challenge, then there are long, strenuous and challenging routes with exposure to heights to tackle. This illustrates the diversity of Table Mountain hiking: there’s something for every type of hiker.