Hiking Up Table Mountain With Flip Flops 2 Toddlers & A Pregnant Friend
Do you seek adventure or do you climb the mountain for “The Gram”?
Well, some do it with flip flops and toddlers; not my friends but passers-by. It is an adventure with many “Gram” moments.
There is magic around these mountains- If you know, you know. If you don’t, allow me to try and inspire you.
I am sure you’ve enjoyed a walk on the pipe track above Camps Bay, or a stroll in Newlands forest. You may be someone who wants to get some peace and quiet, or maybe you want to trail run. We all have our own journey that starts somewhere.
Fear Of Heights Hiking Lion’s Head: Don’t Look Down!
Having been a Cape Town resident since 2007 I was quick to find my way up Lion’s Head (guided tour). It’s one of the most popular hiking routes, with amazing views and is regarded as relatively easy- but it’s no walk in the park.
You need water and closed shoes. And if you have a fear of heights be warned that there are exposed sections. You do have two options once near the top a longer route that wraps further up and around the peak or a slightly shorter route with staples and chains.
To get to the very top there is one final ladder. It’s one of those ‘don’t look down ladders’ for me. (Yes, I have a bit of fear.)
I’m the person you are probably waiting behind while I stick my left foot down, change it to my right, the left, then wonder if I should go down the ladder facing backwards or forwards. It’s a little dance I have to do before I can wrap my brain around going down.
The 360° views up top are worth it all though. Many iconic shots have been taken here for The Gram 😉
With the route becoming more and more popular over the years you will find you often have to queue or wait to pass people going in the opposite direction.
I’ve seen dogs and kids (as young as 6 years old) do it. So it all depends on your level of fitness and patience with queues, and people like me.
I am not as patient as I could be and the ladder dance does become a bit tiresome, so I found a new path around the base of Lion’s Head. It involves no climbing, has beautiful views and is less popular. I also love the fact that it’s not an out and back like Lion’s Head summit.
Before Hiking Up Table Mountain Try These Hikes
You quickly realise just how many wonderful paths there are between Green Point, Sea Point, Lion’s Head, Signal Hill even Deer Park. A friend and I would spend our weekends sweating out some tequila, and exploring different routes. Armed with water, snacks, tissues and fully charged phones we would wander from Springbok Road along Maskew Path, around Lion’s Head base and down to Glen Beach.
We landed upon no path or route.
Our urge to explore would often lead us to find new paths and routes, and once or twice we landed upon no path or route. But we always made it home safely. This is easily done when hiking around this area. It’s when you start looking at Table Mountain that you need to have your wits about you.
I lived in Cape Town for 10 years before I climbed to the top for the 1st time. If you’ve been up in the cable car you know how tiny the humans look at the bottom. I could hardly imagine how I would ever have the stamina to reach the top, and never mind me and my fear of heights.
(Don’t Be) Underprepared For Hiking Up Table Mountain
But a visit from my cousin and his girlfriend had us make a spur of the moment decision to hike up Platteklip Gorge. It’s well known for being the most user-friendly route to the top with no climbing or scrambling.
Armed with water, summer clothing and a warm top we soon realised we were underprepared. (But not as underprepared as the family in slips slops with 2 toddlers.)
A quarter of the way up it started to rain. At this point, we were sure we’d done at least half of the route, as our thighs and calves were on fire from the stairs. Never mind our unfit lungs.
The rain cloud and drizzle were a bit of a blessing as we couldn’t tell how much further we had to go. The route was busy but manageable and the other hikers were a great motivation and good liars about how much further we had to go.
Reaching the top of Table Mountain we were sopping wet (heroes) and happy.
Except for my cousin’s girlfriend, who had never been up the mountain before, who could not enjoy any of the beautiful views from the top with the cloud cover. We opted for a cable car ride down, which is always a treat and less packed than the queues waiting to go up.
I found that once I accomplished this I wanted to do more, see more, explore more. I roped in anyone who would go walk with me. We tried new routes, and as always ended up somewhere we didn’t expect.
Hiking Up Table Mountain In Search Of India Venster.
With a little more sense after years of exploring easier routes, we went in search of India Venster. You can easily hike to the actual window for a photo, but if you miss the turn you’ll find yourself going to the top!
Not For The Faint-Hearted: I Need To Be A Mountain Goat
Now, this route is not for the faint-hearted and we went into the exploration with the idea that we would eventually turn around. Having lost our friend Kim, and brilliant climber, to the mountain earlier in the year we knew that as ‘amateurs’ we could take no chances.
In our search for the Venster, we found ourselves getting higher and higher up the mountain. Eventually, we considered turning around when we met a mountain guide who assessed our fitness and knowledge of the path and assured us we are able to continue up. He kindly pointed out the path further up (which to me looked like I needed to be a mountain goat to get to) and gave us a few pointers. He also mentioned the fact that we missed the Venster waaay back. No point in turning back now.
My little ‘ladder dance’ in reverse
Turns out we didn’t need to be mountain goats, but we did need to do some scrambling up the rock face. I did my little ‘ladder dance’ in reverse and thanked my yoga teacher for helping me build some upper body strength to pull myself up. We eventually found ourselves directly under the cable car station, which oddly meant we were nowhere near the end! But with sweeping views and snack breaks we were ready to do the final push. In the end, it took us around 3 hours to do nearly 5kms, with the 1km elevation. Did I mention my dear friend was 5 months pregnant?!
Never did a cheese and tomato sandwich taste so good.
My hiking partners vary; sometimes we push the limits, sometimes we act like kids and point out each and every bird and insect, sometimes we stop and embrace the fear. All we need is water, something warm, something cool, proper shoes, snacks, and knowledge of our route.
Hiking Up Table Mountain: Start small, go big, and always be prepared.
Join a hiking group or use a guide. Our mountain is precious but also ruthless so never underestimate it.
Nandi one of the Experience Creators at CapeHolidays
FAQ Hiking Up Table Mountain
How to combine Table Mountain hiking trails and the cable car?
Choose a hiking trail up Table Mountain. Plan it well. Consider the weather and changes to the weather. If it changes you may be stuck on the mountain. Ensure you can surive regarding clothing, food and water. Check the last car down and ensure you plan to be at the top well before.
How to get to Table Mountain?
Your own transport, Uber, Taxis or the Red Bus. But to hike up Table Mountain skip the Red Bus.
How much time I should budget hiking up Table Mountain?
It will take the average person between 1.5 and 3 hours for the quickest route. The length of the hike depends on the strenuousness of the hike and your fitness.
How should you prepare for a hike up Table Mountain?
Safety comes first. The select a route depending on your weakest group member’s skill and fitness. Then research your route; you will be exposed to heights, scrambling, crawling, climbing steep cliffs depending on the route. Check the weather; Cape Town can have 4 seasons in one day. You don’t want to hike up and the Cable Car does not operate because of bad weather.
Never hip up Table Mountain alone. And time your hike. Critical. And remember to arrange transport. Take your phone along.
Should I take a Table Mountain hiking guide?
Depends on your experience, and skill levels. If you have no experience or don’t trust your abilities take a guide.
What can you see from the top of Table Mountain?
Table Bay, Robben Island, Cape Town city, Blouberg, and various suburbs along the Atlantic coast like Camps Bay.
Is the hike up Table Mountain free?
There is no entrance fee to hike up Table Mountain, except for those who walk in from Kirstenbosch (for the Skeleton Gorge trail there is R75/US$5 to enter the Botanical garden). On any other hike up and down (Platteklip Gorge, India Venster, or Kasteelspoort) it’s free.
What is the best hiking trail up Table Mountain?
For the beginner or first-timer, the best hiking trail would be Platteklip Gorge.
Is it easy to climb Table Mountain?
The hiking route up Table Mountain requires serious effort. All routes are strenuous in addition to being technical and awkward. The easiest way is Platteklip Gorge – but it’s not easy: this is still an arduous task. The other options are either more lengthy or involve greater heights, or both.