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agswimmer May 8th, 2009 07:21 AM

Table Mountain Cable car closed July 20-Aug 16th--can we hike?
The Table Mountain cable way will be closed for maintenance July 20 thru Aug 16, 2009, which of course is during our time there. Our last trip to Cape Town we were unable to go to Table Mountain so we were really looking forward to it this time. I assume you CAN hike to top but it that really doable? Have any of you Fodorites done the hike to the top and if so:
1.) How long does it take?
2.) Is it safe? Depending on the answer to question #1 there will be 2-5 of us (adults & 16 & over) hiking
3.) Do you need a guide?

sdb2 May 8th, 2009 08:37 AM

Wow, too bad about the cable car being out! I haven't done the walk up but it seems like a decent activity. Here's a blurb from

Platteklip George

This is the simplest and most common route for climbing up Table Mountain. You start from Tafelberg Road and proceed up a steep gully to the top of Table Mountain. Once at the top the Cable Station is a short (10 minutes) walk away so you could even take the cable car down. This little add-on is well worth it just for the views over the city, Atlantic ocean and Robben Island.

Although it is very steep this route is extremely popular and you are guaranteed to meet many people on the way up and down. The gorge is shaded in the afternoon but earlier in the day it can be extremely hot with very little shade.

Most of the route involves rock steps which can be challenging and many people find coming down even harder than going up. Don't underestimate the time and energy required for the downward section of this hike. Tips

* Remember to take lots of water - this climb can be hot!
* Leave plenty of time to get down before dark. This is a well known route but it can still be dangerous

See the link below for more info

Good luck, Steve

agswimmer May 8th, 2009 12:05 PM

Thanks sdb2 that was very helpful info. One thing I hadn't thought of was the hiking DOWN part! It sounds like most people that hike up, take the cable car down; but obviously that won't be an option for us. Sadly, we may have to pass on hiking TM as the hike down sounds very treacherous.

Selwyn_Davidowitz May 8th, 2009 12:16 PM


Hiking up Table Mountain will be weather dependant as far as I am concerned. If it is a wet day and there is any talk at all about rain or mist I would most definitely not do the Plattekloof Gorge hike. If however it is a clear day I would most certainly do the hike.

Depending on your fitness I would say allocate 90 - 120 minutes to do the hike. Bear in mind that you then need to hike down and believe it or not, as per the previous mail, this is more difficult than going up for many. <B>I WOULD HOWEVER NOT SUGGEST THAT YOU LET THIS DETER YOU FROM DOING THE HIKE</B>

You dont need a guide as the hike is well demarcated.

Please just remember to dress warmly, take a cap no matter what the weather and as per the previous mail lots of drinking water. Also make sure that you have a cellphone with you in case of emergency.

I hope the weather is fine when you arrive in our city and that you have and your family have a great stay amidst Capetonians.

Very proudly part of the wonderful ((r))nation of South Africa

agswimmer May 8th, 2009 03:39 PM

Selwyn, that sounds very positive. We are all in great shape in fact I'm actually worried about getting totally out of shape on this trip so maybe the hike will be just what we need! Thanks!

aby May 9th, 2009 08:56 AM

i've done the hike up; since it was in my mid 20s, i simply went up (scales of difficulty did not occur in my mind at that time). i only remember that we (as a couple) were walking with sandals, and a number of hikers were puzzled (we couldn't understand their "strange attitude" toward sandals as hiking gear, as well)

ErinK09 Jul 2nd, 2009 01:00 PM

Hi agswimmer,

Bummer about the cable way - but there are lots of other activities to do around Table Mountain, and not just hiking! Here's a guide to Table Mountain activities written by a local travel writer - hopefully one of his ideas piques your interest.

Have a great trip!

satpacker Jul 3rd, 2009 12:35 AM

Hi. If Table Mountain is too much, consider climbing Lions Head. Not as tough (1-2 hours, reasonably steep in places but can take slowly), also with amazing views over Cape Town (and down the 12 Apostles). Kind of 'Table Mountain-lite'! Satpacker.

dutyfree Jul 4th, 2009 07:50 AM

Frommers South Africa states that "more people die trying to climb Table Mountain than Mt. Everest"? We are planning our trip during this time and are also bummed that it is going to be closed.

Selwyn_Davidowitz Jul 5th, 2009 01:24 AM


"more people die trying to climb Table Mountain than Mt. Everest"?

Now theres a great statistic! :)

At a guess probably 200 people, at most, try to ascend Mount Everest <b>annually</b>. At another guess probably about <b>100 people per day</b> ascend Table Mountain on over 400 pathways ranging from easy to extremely difficult. More important is that probably 75% of these people take the Plattekloof George path that has been suggested in this thread. To my knowledge there has never been a death on the Plattekloof George pathway. It is 100% safe.

When it comes to statistics my very wise mathematics professor used to say "always compare like with like - Comparing apples with pears leads to fruit salad" Frommers should remember this lesson. :)

Very proudly part of the wonderful ((r)) nation of South Africa

sdb2 Jul 5th, 2009 06:57 AM

That was an interesting quote in Frommers SA, especially in light of the book's apparent support of climbing TM as a recommended activity. I can only guess that Frommers was trying to advise caution, although it could have been done better with something less draconian.

S_D, you're absolutely right, one must be very mindful when considering statistics. For example, a hunter was near a pond when he spotted a duck. He took two quick shots, the first bullet missing the duck exactly one foot to the right and the second one foot to the left. On average the duck was dead. Definitely a fruit salad conclusion.

dutyfree Jul 5th, 2009 12:14 PM

I was just quoting and being funny guys-sorry! My own daughter says that I shouldn't have written it but thought that I would share Frommers' comments.

Selwyn-we are trying to get together for a last minute Cape Town/SA western cape driving trip in two weeks. Do you think the weather situation at the end of July and early August(your winter but we are from Chicago-husband originally from Seattle so we know rain) would make a family vacation miserable for traveling around? Thanks for your imput.

Selwyn_Davidowitz Jul 5th, 2009 02:53 PM


I think you will be fine at the end of July and beginning of August. Obviously one cant foretell the weather but one can try and base ones reasoning on what has happened in the past. In this regard please go to my website at Take a look at all the tours that I have done over the past 10 years over the period July end to August start. By looking at clothing worn, clouds, colour of sky etc you will gain a good idea as to what the weather should be like while you are here.

Overall I doubt if you are in for a miserable time, as a matter of fact I reckon you more than likely are going to enjoy what will be the holiday of a lifetime.

Enjoy my great city and our wonderful country when you visit us.

Very proudly part of the wonderful ((r)) nation of South Africa

agswimmer Jul 5th, 2009 05:07 PM

Thanks for the hiking input and the links. Very helpful!

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