Table Mountain via Platteklip Gorge
The Platteklip Gorge is flagged as the 'easiest' way to walk up Table Mountain. The term Platteklip means ‘flat rock’ and is named for the smooth flat rocks that are found in the lower part of the gorge. The reason for its popularity is not hard to understand – it is the most obvious and clear way up the mountain, with a path that is very easy to follow. On a busy day, you’re likely to meet a wide range of people, from families and youth groups on a day outing to international tourists, determined to be able to say ‘I climbed Table Mountain!".
Platteklip Gorge provides for the most direct route to the summit of Table Mountain and if you take the time to enjoy the journey the views and scenery are fantastic. However, the gradient is steep, with some big steps required and the surface can be challenging in places.
It's not exactly a 'walk in the park' and it requires a moderate level of fitness and some basic preparation!
Table Mountain via India Venster
India Venster is the most challenging and somewhat technical route up Table Mountain. This route is not recommended for amateur hikers or for anyone with a fear of heights - Lisa only just barely made it! For safety reasons, it is also not a route that you should attempt on your own.
The route is only approximately 6km long but very steep with a few sections of rock scrambling, some with steel footholds and chains to assist. If you are fit and able, these will be good fun! The first section of the route takes you directly below the cable car and is fairly easy. Thereafter the route becomes steeper as it goes around the point of the mountain to ascend the back face. The climb takes about 3 hours to complete, depending on your fitness level and it is not recommended to decent via this route.
The views all along this route are simply spectacular and you'll not only look out over the city bowl but also out over the entire peninsular as you ascend.
TIPS for Climbing Table Mountain
Pack sunscreen and hydrate often, even if it is overcast. The African sun is all too often underestimated and you shouldn't think that you are safe just because the clouds are covering the sun. Make sure you wear sunscreen – or better yet – wear a thin jacket to keep the most harmful rays off. You should carry at least 1.5L of water for Platteklip Gorge but to be safe it's best to have some extra.
Take a jacket
It cools down rapidly on the summit especially if there's a wind blowing and in case you need to return the same way due to weather your life might just depend on it. Even on a sunny day, you will be surprised by the wind chill factor at the top of the mountain.
Be aware of your surroundings
Take note of landmarks so that you know where you are at all times and know how to return should you get lost. If you are lost or hurt and need assistance, take note of some landmarks so that a rescue team can easily find you. Do not risk going onto ledges to get the ‘perfect’ selfie.
Don’t go alone
Do not attempt hiking up the mountain on your own, especially if you are not familiar with the routes. Make sure you go with somebody who knows what they are doing. And never attempt routes you’re not familiar with on your own or even in a group.
Check the weather
High winds cause the cable car to close and if planning on ascending via Platteklip and returning via the cable car (recommended), be sure the forecast is for a calm afternoon or you may just be hiking back down the same way you came up. This has happened to us before when we climbed up the India Venster Route just to arrive on top and find everything closed up. It was a long and cold climb down Platteklip in slippery and misty conditions!
Do not underestimate the vastness of the mountain
There are several different routes. While some – like Platteklip – is popular and busy and pretty impossible to get lost on, many of the other routes can be dangerous and very easy to stray away from. Do not underestimate just how big the mountain is – and how easy it is to get lost – when you use these routes.
If hiking up and taking the cable car down, buy your tickets on the top to avoid the usually long lines at the bottom cable car station.