Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions Relating to Cape Town Hikes
Can I hike Table Mountain alone?
There are many routes up Table Mountain and hundreds of kilometres of pathways. It is of course possible for visitors to hike alone, but engaging the services of a licensed guide from a reputable company ensures that you will be well taken care of and will not get lost. Our guides are suitably trained and equipped to deal with any emergency. They are better able to interpret changes in weather and are familiar with the many routes on Table Mountain, so they can choose the route most suitable for you and the prevailing conditions. Furthermore our guides are knowledgeable regarding environmental and historical information and having a guide with you will greatly increase your appreciation and enjoyment of the hike.
How high is the highest point on Table Mountain?
The highest point on Table Mountain is Maclears Beacon at 1087 metres (3566 feet) above sea level. There are many different routes to get to this point. The upper cable station is at an elevation of 1067 metres (3500 ft).
How long does it take to get to the top of Table Mountain?
This of course depends on the route taken and the fitness of the hikers. Our most popular hike is a half-day ascent up Platteklip Gorge. On average this route takes our visitors about 2.5 – 3 hours.
Our most popular Full-Day ascent takes about 5 – 6 hours (excluding descent)
Can we ascend by cable-car and hike down Table Mountain?
The operation of the cable-car is weather dependent and under conditions of high winds it does not operate. If the cable-car is operating, it is certainly possible to use it in one direction, however for a half day hike we recommend hiking UP the mountain and descending by way of the Cable-car. Not only does this provide a greater sense of achievement than the reverse but the descent on foot is extremely steep and demanding on the knees.
How long are your hikes?
There are hundreds of routes up Table Mountain and on The Cape Peninsula. These range from 2-hour ascents to multi-day routes. We offer all of these, so please tell us for how long you’d like to walk and more about your interests and reasons for hiking, and we will assist you to choose the perfect hike for you.
How do I get to the start of the hike and back ?
We will provide transport from our rendezvous point at Rcaffè and back again.
For private and specialist hikes we can collect from your hotel within the Cape Town CBD area.
What shall I bring on my hike?
We recommend the following
- Comfortable walking shoes/boots for hiking (Hiking boots recommended for multiday routes)
- Comfortable loose fitting clothes
- A warm fleece &/ softshell. The Cape Town weather is known to change very rapidly.
- Rain protection – particularly between June & October.
- A hat
- We will provide water, but please recycle the plastic bottles.
- Day-pack (minimum 18 litres for multiday routes)
- Trekking pole(s) – optional if you normally use them.
- Lip Balm
- Prescription drugs (if required)
- Camera (spare batteries/charger for multi-day routes)
- Binoculars – optional for birds, wildlife at Cape of Good Hope and possibly whales in Hermanus
Do you provide food?
On our half day hikes we provide some lights snacks to keep your energy levels up.
On our full day and multi day hikes we provide wholesome healthy packed lunches (which have become somewhat legendary!). Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements.
We provide bottled water on our one-day hikes – please recycle the bottles.
On our multi-day hikes we expect guests to bring their own water bottles.
How can I pay?
It’s easiest for you to pay online using our secure payment gateway. That way we know that you are coming walking with us and you don’t have to worry about how to make payment.
Alternatively you can pay us with a wire transfer or using PAYPAL.
If for some reason this does not work in your case, please talk to us and we will arrange an alternative.
Should I book in advance?
It is advisable to book in advance. We try to accommodate everyone but we do have a limited number of guides, so booking in advance secures your place.
What if I cancel?
Provided that you cancel within 24 hours for a standard scheduled hike we will refund you in total except for the costs of the transaction.
For private or specialist hikes, we will refund you 50% provided you cancel within 24 hours of the hike.
What about the weather on Table Mountain?
In general the weather in Cape Town is very unpredictable and changeable. Capetonians like to point-out that it is possible to experience all 4 seasons in a matter of hours here. Furthermore the temperature on the top of The Mountain is about 50C lower than down below in the city centre. Wind-chill can reduce this even further. It is therefore always necessary for hikers to have some form of warm clothing like a fleece and/wind breaker.
Cape Town has a “Mediterranean weather pattern” meaning that the rains fall in our winter – mostly between June and August. Our summers are hot, dry and can be windy – especially the months of November to February.
The months of April, May and September, October tend to have very little rain, less wind and comfortable temperatures.
Aren’t there security concerns for hikers on Table Mountain?
In the past there were a series of muggings on Table Mountain. Those responsible were apprehended. Security issues do become a concern from time to time – but mostly in particular areas, which we avoid. We believe that being with a licensed guide who obviously knows where he is going, is the first step to avoid being targeted.
Sun exposure, dehydration, cold weather and losing your way are the greater dangers on Table Mountain.
How fit do I need to be?
There are routes for every fitness level. The most popular half-day route is Platteklip Gorge, which is a steep 2.5 hour ascent that can be managed by almost anyone with sufficient motivation. Do be aware though that, just as the name indicates Table Mountain is a mountain and NOT a hill. And in spite of being in the midst of one of the larger cities of Africa, it is still a mountain ascent and not a stroll in a public park.
Are there family-friendly routes?
The youngest guest we have taken up The Mountain was 5 years old and the oldest was 82 years old. Hiking up Table Mountain is one of the most family-friendly activities for visitors to our beautiful city. It gives kids the opportunity to be active and burn-off some kid-energy, while having fun with their parents. This is especially important after a few days of having been on a vehicle-based safari!
Can we do a private hike?
Of course you can do a private hike for your party or group. Please note however that private hikes will attract a surcharge.
What time will the hike start?
We understand that you are on holiday and that you’d like a nice breakfast before you start your hike. We’ve therefore arranged for our standard hikes to meet at 08h00 at RCaffe, which is considered to be one of the best breakfast & coffee shops in downtown Cape Town. This gives you time to either have breakfast at your hotel, or better still to have breakfast at RCaffe (opens at 06h00 Monday to Friday).
If you have booked a private hike and want to get started earlier because you have plans for later in the day or because you want to beat the heat, we can arrange an earlier start.
Will we see wildlife?
Table Mountain is in the midst of The Cape Floral Kingdom – the smallest and most biodiverse plant kingdom in the world. For this reason plants dominate the natural history of our hikes but there are also beautiful birds and some mammals to be seen.
On Table Mountain we regularly see Orange Breasted Sunbirds, Red Winged Starlings, Pied Crows, Rock Kestrels and sometimes Peregrine Falcons and Black Eagles. In terms of mammals we almost always see Rock Hyrax. We sometimes see Small Grey Mongoose and it is possible to see Klipspringer and the non-native Himalayan Tahr.
When walking at Cape Point the variety is considerably greater, with a much greater variety of birds, mammals and reptiles present.
What overnight accommodation is available?
There are mountain huts in the Table Mountain National Park, but on our multi-day hikes we prefer to accommodate you in an excellent Bed & Breakfast or small hotel. Cape Town is famous for our enthusiastic hospitality, excellent food and legendary wine. We think that word class hiking matches perfectly with Cape Town’s enthusiastic hospitality, delicious cuisine and legendary wine.
If however you are doing a multi-day hike with us and would prefer to stay in an overnight hut, please do let us know.
Can I still hike up Table Mountain if I am afraid of heights?
“Fear of heights” covers a wide range of responses. Some people only feel a fear of heights when at very high elevation with extreme exposure, while others have anxiety at much lower elevation with less exposure.
On Table Mountain we have guided many people who experience a fear of heights and a tiny minority of these have even noticed the height during the ascent. However if you do have a fear of heights, please advise us or our guides and we will help you choose a suitable route and will reassure you en route.
What are the most popular routes up Table Mountain?
There are literally hundreds of routes up Table Mountain but for visitors with limited time or unsure of their abilities, there really are only a few popular routes worth considering.
What will you do in the case of an emergency?
Our guides are all trained and qualified in First Aid. They carry a cell-phone programmed with emergency contact numbers and know where signal is available.
Our office knows the route being taken by our guests and our guide and the approximate time to expect them back and this is monitored.
All of our mountains are serviced by a highly professional Wilderness Search & Rescue Team and Table Mountain also benefits from the services of a volunteer rescue team which work in conjunction with the Metro Rescue Services.