Every visitor to Cape Town needs to go up the iconic Table Mountain. The mountain has an aura and energy force that Carrie Hampton just can’t resist. She gives us her inside tips to making the most of your visit…
Table Mountain is the reason I chose to live in Cape Town, as opposed to anywhere else in the world, having searched the globe for my ‘right place’. There’s something about the energy emanating from this giant crystal that entrapped me. The mountain contains large amounts of quartz – often used in healing – which some say explain its magnetism, and I have come believe in its irresistible power.
When the mountain calls your name
When the mountain calls I just have to put on my walking shoes. This puts a smile on Pepi’s face – my cheeky little black and cream street dog – who literally grins as he sees me tying my laces. Our favourite 1.5 hour hike is the circular Silvermine River Walk, in a section of the Table Mountain National Park a third of the way between Cape Town and Cape Point. It’s not on the list of favourite things for tourists to do, but it’s certainly in my Cape Town Top Ten.
Take swimming gear and a picnic because the path culminates at a dark-water mountain dam where you can swim in the black-tea coloured water from one side to the other and back. Pepi hates getting wet and stares accusingly at me from the peaty bank (when he’s not chasing mountain bikers!).
It’s on the way back down, following the path behind the rocky peaks parallel to the River Walk, that you get astounding views across the steely waters of False Bay and along the mountain ridges to Table Mountain. Place some blooming protea bushes in the foreground and you’ll have some brochure-worthy photos to show for just a small amount of huffing and puffing.
Sitting at the top of the world
You’ll no doubt want to clock up some iconic photos from the top of Table Mountain too. The vista over the city and the utter vastness of the Atlantic Ocean, punctuated 7km offshore by Robben Island, is a sight to behold – don’t miss it. Platteklip Gorge is the best-trodden, easiest hike up, starting just beyond the lower Cableway station, taking about 2.5 hours. But bear in mind it’s unrelentingly uphill all the way!
For the less energetic, it’s easy to enjoy these views by experiencing the strangely pleasing agoraphobic sensations that the 4.5 minute rotating cablecar provides on its way to the top. There’s a free wi-fi lounge at the upper cable station and you can sit and post photos that will leave your friends in no doubt that you are on top of the world.
- Table Mountain VoiceMap and Audio Tour; free to download.
- Cape Town Pass: at R595 for a 2-day pass and R795 for 3-day pass, you’d have to enter three attractions a day to break even. It’s the convenience factor of not having to wait in the laborious queue for a cablecar ticket and other lines that could make it worthwhile.
- Maps: it’s always advisable to carry a map when walking in the mountains. I suggest you invest in some of the beautiful hiking maps by Cape Town local Peter Slingsby. They include: Table Mountain, Silvermine & Hout Bay, Cape Point & Simon’s Town, and Hoerikwaggo Trail.
- Hiking Guide Book: my favourite by far is Fiona McIntosh’s, Hike Cape Town; Top Day Trails on the Peninsula published by Jacana. Look on Page 21 and you’ll see Pepi and I doing what we love best.