Top Tips For Exploring Table Mountain.

Table Mountain

6min read

Published 7 November 2019


Of course when you visit Cape Town, South Africa, climbing Table Mountain is more than likely one of the first priorities on your list of things to do. Cape Town is famous for it, and it’s considered to be one of the oldest mountains in the world. Originally named Hoerikwaggo which translates to “Mountain in the sea” it was changed in 1503 by a Portuguese explorer who renamed it Tabao de Cabo – “Table of the Cape.”

A little bit of history for you; the rocks of the mountain are approximately 600 million years old. There are two types of rock that make up Table Mountain; the rocks at the base of the mountain are shale, and on the western side of the mountain, Cape granite. Oh and another fun fact for you; it’s thought that the mountain is six times older than the Himalayas.


Clifton Beach - Image: Laura Welch



I visited Cape Town in February to attend a close friend’s wedding when the weather was divine with highs of 29 degrees. We planned to visit Table Mountain in the evening when it wasn’t so hot, while during the day we intended on making the most of the sun at Clifton Beach.

I’ll be honest, I was really looking forward to the experience, but as someone who is really scared of heights, the cable car journey up to the top of the mountain was laying heavy on my mind - never mind the thought of hiking! But more on that later...

What Goes Up, Must Come Down!

The cable car journey to the top takes a mere five to six minutes, and, thanks to my fear of heights, I held onto the pole in front of me and closed my eyes until we reached it (adulting at its best!) Let's not forget that the top of Table Mountain is 1089 metres above Cape Town, but boy was it worth it! The views were absolutely breathtaking – it felt like we were literally in the middle of the clouds.

We stayed up there just over an hour, exploring the top of the mountain and enjoying some drinks and snacks whilst taking in spectacular views of Cape Town.


Cableway up Table Mountain

How to Prepare Beforehand

It is best to buy your Cableway tickets online in advance, to avoid potential long queues when you arrive at Table Mountain. Depending on the season and time, there can be queues to get into the Cableway coming up and down the mountain.

The first Cableway car leaves at 8:00am and the last one back down the mountain is as late as 9:30pm in December and January when it stays lightest the longest. Don’t forget to pack a picnic and bring treats and drinks with you to enjoy at the top of the mountain.


Views from Table Mountain - Image: Laura Welch

Eat, Drink and Be Merry! (Responsibly!)

Although there is a cafe at the top of the mountain, it’s nice to just take your own picnic with you and set up camp for an hour or so while you are there. There are so many different areas to sit or stand at the top of the mountain, as well as plenty of photo opportunities to see an African sunset from the top of one of the World’s New Seven Wonders of Nature.

It is not uncommon for people to take a few beers up there or a bottle of bubbly, with the opportunity to just relax and enjoy some traditional South African treats such as Boerewors and Biltong. It goes without saying, it is wise to always carry a bottle of water with you.


Laura at the top of Table Mountain - Image: Laura Welch

Climbing the Mountain (For Avid Hikers)

For the adrenalin junkies and dare devils among you - there is the option to hike up the mountain and avoid the Cableway altogether. It’s around a 3K hike which may strike you as fairly straightforward but is actually a pretty physically demanding hike and can take between 1-3 hours to get to the top. This depends on your fitness levels of course, as well as who you are travelling with, but if you think you have it in you - then go for it! It makes for an incredible experience. I can't say that I did this myself, however I did climb Lions Head and that was enough adrenaline for me during the trip.

It is advised to take appropriate clothes with you if you want to hike, such as waterproofs if the weather isn't so good, or sun cream and hats in the height of summer. Again, plenty of water is important to keep hydrated during the hike.

However you choose to explore Cable Mountain, it is sure to be an experience you will never forget.

Flight Centre

© Flight Centre (UK) Limited, Registered in England No. 02937210.

* 0800 calls are free for landlines and mobiles. 0333 calls are included within inclusive minutes package on mobiles, otherwise standard rates apply. 0844/0845 calls are 7p/pm plus your local carrier charge. Prices are per person twin share, correct as at the date of publication, subject to change and may be higher/unavailable for certain dates. Airfares are economy on specified airlines from London, unless otherwise stated. For full booking conditions visit Booking Conditions. Some of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. We will provide you with information on the protection that applies in the case of each holiday and travel service offered before you make your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but not all the parts of your trip are listed on it, those parts not listed will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: