Visit Table Mountain, South Africa: 9 FAQs and Planning Tips

> April 19, 2023
Visit Table Mountain, South Africa: 9 FAQs and Planning Tips

Table Mountain is the most significant feature of Cape Town. It’s even portrayed on the city’s flag and an official logo. From my perspective, Table Mountain is one of the top places I’ve ever been to. Oh, so now you're intrigued, right? You better be, this really is one for the bucket list!  

Quick facts about Table Mountain: 

  • Table Mountain is located on the Cape Peninsula in Cape Town, South Africa.
  • Its highest point, Maclear’s Beacon, is 1,085 m (3,560 ft) high. 
  • Table Mountain has been a national park since 1998. 
  • It has two other local names: Tafelberg in Afrikaans and Hoerikwaggo in Khoikhoi. 

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1. Which is the quickest way to get to the top of Table Mountain?​  

Climbing up Table Mountain is a must when visiting Cape Town. Of course, there are two options: the cable car (called Table Mountain Aerial Cableway) for lazy sissies and hiking routes for adventurous visitors. We decided on a compromise, so we climbed up the mountain and rode down on the cable car for more views.  

Cable car (Table Mountain Aerial Cableway)

Table Mountain cableway, Cape Town, South Africa

Going down? Cable car it is!

The cable car up to Table Mountain is modern and also quite cheap, so that might persuade weak-will people to choose the easier way. But believe me, you’re missing a lot not trying the hike. Anyhow, the cable cars offer a 360° panorama of the north slope over Cape Town, which is pretty awesome too.  

Opening times: 

  • The cableway operates from 8:30 or 9 am to 3.30 or 4 pm, depending on the season. 
  • The cars go up approximately every 15 minutes, but it’s better to buy your ticket online to avoid the queue (at least from December to February, when it’s the peak season). 
  • Always check the official websites, as the cableway doesn’t operate in case of strong winds or bad weather. 


  • Adult one-way tickets costs ZAR 240 (USD 11.50). Return ticket prices vary slightly based on the time of the day you want to go back down. See the official website for details. 

Table Mountain Hikes: Plattenklip Gorge is the fastest

The Table Mountain route on a map, South Africa

The Table Mountain route—you will find it on alltrails

There are more than 200 routes all over Table Mountain National Park. That makes a great pastime activity in case you’re staying in Cape Town for a longer time. All of the trails are available on, including routes fit for children as well as the hard-core ones. The time range is from 1.5 hours for the shortest one to a half-day trip if you decide to explore the whole mountain. I just recommend searching for reviews and information in advance as on some routes there could be types of people you really don’t want to meet. 

The most direct, and therefore most popular, route up to the plateau is Platteklip Gorge. That’s exactly the one we took when we were there. We climbed this almost 3 km (1.80 mi) long and takes about an hour or so, including many stops to take the perfect Instagram pics. However, from December to February it may be quite challenging for some less fit hikers as the sun beats you down the whole route. Prepare steady shoes and adequate water supplies. The Platteklip Gorge hike up Table Mountain placed second on my list of best day hikes in South Africa, so you can tell I liked it. 


2. When is the best time to visit Table Mountain?

Tablecloth of clouds on Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa

A tablecloth of clouds—a smoking contest between a pirate and the devil??

There’s really no bad time to visit Table Mountain. It’s beautiful in all seasons. The best time is in fall or spring though. The temperatures are ok and if you’re lucky, it’ll also be sunny. It’s best to head out there early in the morning because the traffic is insane if you get there later.  

Tip: Hop over to my Cape Town itinerary if you're ready to travel! Table Mountain is included, of course. We stayed at Dysart Boutique Hotel and LOVED it!  

Table Mountain is also famous for the tablecloth of clouds. Every time the south-eastern winds blow from the coast, thick clouds form all over the slopes. It doesn’t mean it will rain necessarily. The mist and the clouds usually disperse after a few minutes. I must say it feels magical being up there, and that’s something coming from me! Naturally, there’s a myth related to this phenomenon: 

The smoking contest

Legend has it that there was a smoking contest between a Dutch pirate living on the east side of Table Mountain and the devil. Once, when the pirate was smoking outside his hut, the devil appeared out of nowhere and challenged him about who could create more smoke. So, if you ever see the tablecloth covering the mountain it’s these two idiots' fault. 

3. Try rock climbing up or abseiling down Table Mountain for the ultimate experience 

Rock climbing up Table Mountain is just another way to experience the most of it. There are plenty of multi-pitch routes from very easy ones to the most challenging.  Most of the routes are to be found on Africa Ledge, a north-east side of the mountain facing the city, or on the Fountain Ledge towards the Atlantic seaboard. If you’re not too experienced, I recommend finding a guided rock-climbing tour. There are several to choose from, the best-rated being Cape Town Climbing and Manawa.  

4. Table Mountain on a wheelchair? No problem

The path on the top of Table Mountain.

Climbing Table Mountain with a smile on my face

This is quite surprising, but Capetonians are obviously very friendly and bend over backward to welcome all the visitors, including the handicapped. There’s lift access to the cable car, disabled parking lots, and even a specially adapted pathway on the top. Look, they even issued a special wheelchair map with points of interest and directions.  

5. Is Table Mountain the oldest in the world? 

Table Mountain is older than dinosaurs! It’s 600 million years old. To give you an idea, compared to the Himalayas it’s six times older and four times older than the Alps. So it's a mountain grandaddy. However, the oldest mountain range on earth lies on the other side of South Africa at its borders with Swaziland. It’s called Barberton Greenstone Belt and it’s estimated to be 3.5 billion years old. Thanks to its unique geologic value, its variety of endemic species, and its monumental profile, Table Mountain is included on the list of the New 7 Wonders of Nature. 

Want more mountains in South Africa? Check out Drakensberg! You'll need to bring your big boy (girl) panties if you want to take on the chain ladders at Tugela Falls.

6. Why is Table Mountain flat?

Table Mountain, V&A Waterfront

V&A Waterfront in Cape Town 

Table Mountain is flat because of geology... and pancakes?! Talking about Table Mountain history, most people are curious why is it flat on the top. To put it simply, imagine a stack of pancakes (be patient, it'll make sense in the end). These pancakes represent different types of rocks the mountain is made of. A solid sandstone on the top and the granite beneath it. During the ice age, there were ice plains that eroded the sandstone forming the flat top. When the continents split up, the granite held the mountain together instead of crushing inwards. For the following centuries, erosion has been taking bits of the mountain from the sides, but not from the top made of massive sandstone. That means the sides of the mountain are crumbling down while the top stands still

7. Table Mountain is a no-fly drone area 

Drones are strictly prohibited in National Parks in South Africa, and since Table Mountain is a national park, nobody can fly a drone there either. So, that means no killer drone footage from your South Africa vacation. It’s also prohibited to make a fire there, excluding the marked campsite areas. Just in case you were wondering. 

8. Over 8,000 species live on Table Mountain

Table Mountain, Cape Town view

Adult Homo Sapiens Sapiens alfa male to be seen in his natural habitat on Table Mountain

Table Mountain National Park is home to the Cape Floral Kingdom. A unique biome made of thousands of species, some of them endemic to Table Mountain.  It’s so huge, you feel like you're on different planet. Just imagine the species from every corner of Africa in one place. The cool thing is that this biome is endemic only to the West Cape, so you won’t find it anywhere else on the planet. If you want to see the flowers in bloom, come here in February and March, when most of the flowers blossom, including South Africa’s national flower King Protea

The mountain is also home for many animal species like endemic ghost frog, various snakes, lizards, and mongooses. If you’re lucky you can also spot the dassie, the unofficial mascot of Table Mountain. I guess they were shy when we went there, so the only animal on Table Mountain was me. 

9. You can see Table Mountain up in the sky!

Did you know Table Mountain is so inspiring it even has its very own constellation? It’s the only place on earth so interesting that someone decided to name the stars after it. It was Nicolas de Lacaille, a French astronomer from the 18th century, who named the constellation the Mensa (meaning “the table”) during his stay in Cape Town. If you’re in South Africa in the middle of July, you can see it right under the Orion belt around midnight. 

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About me

About me

Hi! I’m Jan. I live in Prague, Czech Republic. I try to experience the best the world has to offer, and I don’t cease to be impressed. But if I’m not, I’m sure going to tell you! You can count on my full honesty and real opinions here. No bullcrap. I own and run several companies, which gives me great (but not unlimited) freedom to roam the world.  

I was first inspired to start this blog by my own experience of researching for upcoming trips—I often struggle with a lack of good information, accuracy, and authenticity of resources. You wouldn’t believe how many “travel bloggers” don’t even visit the destinations they write about! 

My goal with this blog is to provide you with complex and practical information so that you can plan your own vacation, complete with insights you’d only get if you visited the place. I also put together itineraries that are fully planned out trip guides.

Another aspect that drives this platform is my curiosity about the history, geography, politics, and economy of each country I visit, so I try to include this information in my articles, too. It’s always great to get the bigger picture, right? 

And just to be clear, I am not trying to compete with backpacking blogs or provide hacks for an economical and affordable experience. My vacations follow the standard pattern of traveling by plane, staying in good hotels, and renting a car on the spot to get around. I’m also always up for a fantastic meal, though I don’t shy away from local delicacies and street food, either.  

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