Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Hiking Table Mountain

Table Mountain is a 1087m (~3600 ft) mountain right behind the city of Cape Town.  It is the oldest mountain in the world.  Its top is flat because it was formed during an ice age, when the growing mountain was constrained by the heavy layer of ice on top of it.  It's hard to go anywhere in the city without noticing the beauty and grandeur of the mountain.

Rainbow over Table Mountain at sunrise, from our backyard

You can take a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, but that would be boring.  There are also several well-maintained hiking paths to the top.  We took the Platteklip Gorge path, which has an elevation gain of 760 meters (~2500 ft) in just 3 km (< 2 miles).  This works out to a 25% grade, which is pretty steep.  The weather was perfectly sunny, with the temperature in the upper 80's (mid-90's if you listen to the other hikers).

View from lower section of Platteklip Gorge trail

John on the middle section of the trail

Sarah is on a mission to get to the top

The birds are not shy on this trail, letting us pass by

There was some excitement on the trail when we got close to the top.  A woman suffering from heat exhaustion had to be evacuated from the mountain by helicopter, after being helped by other hikers and a park ranger.  After that, we donated water several times to hikers who seemed fatigued or short of liquids.

Helicopter arriving on the scene to help an exhausted hiker

Rescue team member lowers wire cable from helicopter

At the top of the mountain, there is a decent restaurant with an outdoor patio.  Sarah had an ostrich sub, and I had the chicken roti (Indian food).  We stocked up on water for the trip down, and felt superior to the unmotivated cable car people.  Before and after lunch, we wandered around the flat top section of the mountain.  The 360-degree views were gorgeous.  We also got to see some of the native shrubbery, which is called fynbos ("fine bush").  Fynbos includes thousands of plant species, most of which only exist in this area of South Africa.

Sarah enjoying the fruits of her efforts

John proves that the water is bluer than his shirt

Lion’s Head, Signal Mountain, Robben Island and city views

View of another town on opposite side of Table Mountain

View of Cape Town from the top
The table part of Table Mountain, with fynbos


  1. Somewhere buried in all of our moving boxes is an old photo I've somehow ended up with... When my husband's grandmother was a girl (in the 1920s), one of her older sisters left England to go live in South Africa... I have a postcard of Table Mountain as seen from the ocean that she sent back to Gertrude -- with the old postage and postmark from the 20s... If I come across it as I'm unpacking, I'll scan and send -- not much has changed in the way it looks in years ;-)... -- k. :-)

  2. You guys are awesome!! I am so frickin' jealous, my red hair is turning green!! Just in time for St Paddy's Day! What fantastic pictures and commentary. It is just so great you are sharing and taking the time to document this fabulous adventure. I am sure there are many, many more photos and stories….I look forward to seeing you….hopefully at the Outer Banks…..where we can sit in a hot tub and you can relate all this wonderful stuff!!!

  3. I am very, very impressed. A 25% grade is tough indeed. However, not as impressive as the fact you were able to incorporate the word shrubbery into the post. Great views. Totally wicked!