Hiking Table Mountain Cape Town South Africa

Vista from Contour Path
Vista from Contour Path

Table Mountain – one of the world’s seven wonders of nature – is special in many ways. Some Capetonians believe the mountain takes hold of those blessed with living near its magic. I fell under Table Mountain’s spell the first time I saw it. Its beauty and vistas leave me breathless.

Cape Sugarbird – theflacks.co.za

Recently I began hiking “beginning” Table Mountain trails, but some of the mountain’s “easy” hikes seem moderate or even difficult. This is primarily because of the steep rocky outcrops, boulder-strewn paths, and granite, slate, and sandstone cliffs. Hiking poles are essential for navigating the mountain!

Scrambling Over the Rocks
Scrambling Over the Rocks

I’m trying to enjoy at least one 5 to 6+ mile hike on the mountain every week in the company of other hikers who know the mountain and move at my speed. Autumn days in the Cape are ideal for hiking although the mountain is suffering from severe drought and sadly most of the waterfalls are dry.

Camel Rock – Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
Table Mountain Loop Contour Path

The hike last week was a loop on the “contour path” from Rhodes Memorial to Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and back. It was a glorious Sunday, and after rock scrambling in the beginning, the trail was not difficult. Young, mature Silver trees were abundant.

In the Forest
In the Forest
Constantia Nek

This week the hike was a full-day outing from Constantia Nek to De Villiers Dam returning to Constantia via an interesting formation called Camel Rock.  Along the trail, views of Hout Bay, Lion’s Head, Constantia, and Orange Kloof were stunning! Parts of the exposed trail were challenging – at least for me.

Young Silver Tree
Young Silver Tree

Weather and visibility on Table Mountain are unpredictable. It’s not wise to underestimate the mountain. Things can change dramatically in less than an hour. Even though the day may begin with warm temperatures and blue skies, hikers must prepare for anything and carry rain gear and warm clothing.

De Villier's Dam
De Villiers Dam
Cape Doctor

The wind that blows over the Western Cape – the Cape Doctor – is a force to be reckoned with. Notoriously strong “South-Easters” usually occur during sunny, clear weather. If a South-Easter occurs when there’s a “cut-off low in the spring and autumn, it can cause heavy rains and the phenomenon known as a Black South-Easter”. The raw strength and power of a full-blown South-Easter makes you feel small when compared to the forces of nature!

Contour Path Vista
Contour Path Vista
Verreauxs Eagle – Maans Booysen Safari News
Fynbos and Birds

The native flora and fauna (fynbos) unique to the Western Cape and Table Mountain is quite spectacular and the subject of a separate post! The rocky mountain doesn’t encourage a large bird population but birds in the Fynbos biome are well adapted to their harsh environment.  Some interesting birds include the long-tailed Cape Sugarbird, Double-Collared Sunbird, Verreaux’s Eagle, Red-Winged Starling, and Orange-Breasted Sunbird.

Aerial View Cape Town, Table Mountain, Lion’s Head – Flickr

Table Mountain is home to several species of snake – some dangerous. The ones to be especially careful of include the puff adder, berg adder, Cape cobra, and boomslang. Luckily, I’ve never seen a snake on Table Mountain, but with so many rocks, they’re surely there.

Berg Adder – Imgur
Newlands Forest
Newlands Forest
60 Million Years Ago

The rocks on Table Mountain are 600 million years old, but the mountain formation itself occurred a mere 60 million years ago. The mountain formed after “millions of years of river-borne sediment piled up on itself compressing its own weight”. Table Mountain’s age is difficult to comprehend!

Orange-Breasted Sunbird – eBird
Table Mountain Vista

This post is dedicated with love to my father and mother who are no longer with me but whose birthdays were June 10th and 11th respectively. They would both appreciate the beauty of Table Mountain.


More later….


  1. navasolanature

    Yes, a beautiful tribute and on their birthdays. My fathers was June 9 th! He died a long time ago but gave me such a love of nature, travel and tolerance. Missing and celebrating and on table mountain. That’s been another for me to see. Enjoy your travels.

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