The Ultimate Guide to Hiking Table Mountain for Beginners
The city of Cape Town on the southwestern coast of South Africa is backed by Table Mountain. This flat-topped mountain offers its own weather patterns, including a cloud cover known as the Tablecloth. Thanks to this ready access to moisture, the region is lush and green. There are multiple water reservoirs to catch run-off and each season offers a wide climate variety.
At its highest point, Table Mountain is 3,558 feet above sea level. The Table Mountain Range also includes Lion’s Head and Devil’s Peak. This long collection of low mountains means that Table Mountain and the surrounding region are ideal spots for hikers, climbers, campers and backpackers alike.
Where to Stay
No matter your budget, you may enjoy the experience of a hostel in Cape Town. If you’ve ever stayed in a dormitory, you will be quite comfortable in a shared hostel room. It’s a great way to get to know other travellers and to save some cash for your South African Adventure. Bring a padlock, store your personal gear, and get out on the hiking trail!
If you need a bit more space, you can also book a private room in a guesthouse. The benefits of a private bath may call to you, and you can book a guesthouse with enough room for children as well.
Your hike up to Table Mountain will likely be wet, and it may be quite warm depending on the season you travel. Sunrise is a lovely time on Table Mountain, and conditions can be quite misty. If you’re concerned about the weight of your gear on your Table Mountain hike, you might enjoy a trip up the cable car to enjoy the view and get a sense of the temperature drop and conditions on top.
Once your body is moving, staying warm on your hike will be easier, but getting wet means you can quickly turn cold. Consider layering up, pairing a cotton or wool tee for breathability with a light fleece jacket to hold heat close. A lightweight rain jacket with a hood can protect your upper body if it rains. In addition, make sure you bring a ball cap to keep a drippy hood from spoiling your view.
What Gear to Bring
Your gear for a day hike up Table Mountain can be quite light. You will need
● extra socks
● a blister kit
● a communication tool
● a waterproof backpack
● waterproof bags for taking away wet socks and trash
You can simplify your hiking needs with an oversized rain jacket, especially if it has sizable pockets. Here you can stash those socks, your baseball cap, the blister kit and your snacks. Your travel budget can be further protected by using the water resistant pack you have and covering it with your current rain jacket.
Where you don’t want skimp is on your water carrying vessel. Getting dehydrated on a hike can have serious implications for your health. Invest in an insulated water jug that will keep your beverage cool, and if you expect to have limited access to drinkable water, consider investing in a water purifying kit.
As noted above, this climb may be wet. Mesh hikers can keep your feet cooler, but in the rain you will end up with wet feet. Sloshing around inside your hiking shoes can be quite miserable and may cause blisters, so those extra socks will come in quite handy!
Make sure your hikers are
● broken in by at least a couple of hikes back home
● able to clear water from underneath your feet
● easy to clear of mud
A simple wooden tool, such as part of a chopstick, can come in extremely handy if your hiking shoes become mud-packed. Mud on the bottom of your shoes is both heavy and slick. If you are already hiking a wet trail that wants to slide under you, having your treads packed with mud means you have no traction at all when things get gooey underfoot. When you take a break to rest your feet, check on your socks and clear the treads of your hikers for best grip.
What to Do on Your Resting Days
The city of Cape Town has a lot to do on the days you’re not hiking up Table Mountain. You can spend time on the lovely white beaches in the area, take a shorter hike up to the Lion’s head to watch the sunset, or catch a movie in the Open Air Cinema.
Cape Town also offers a lot of indoor activities. From the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art to the South African National Gallery, you can enjoy the power of this region as shared through local artists over time. Before you leave the region, make sure you do a wine tasting!
Best Time of Year to Visit
You can hike Table Mountain and visit Cape Town year round. Summer will be hot climb, but the chances are pretty good that it will be dry. Winter will be much cooler, but you will probably get rained on or saturated with mist. No matter what time of year you travel, remember that you have options in this gorgeous region.
If you aren’t sure you can make it up Table Mountain, hike Lion’s Head. If you should suffer a health issue once you get to South Africa, take the cable car up the mountain and hike down to make sure you’re feeling well enough to make the whole hike.
No matter what time of year you visit Cape Town and plan to hike Table Mountain, be ready to hike early in the day. If a morning hike just won’t work for your schedule, hire a guide to take you out on a sunset hike to avoid trying to come down the mountain in the dark.