“Now shall I walk or shall I ride?
‘Ride,’ Pleasure said;
‘Walk,’ Joy replied.”
― W.H. Davies
And so we started with a classic: The steep hike through Platteklip Gorge up to the city’s iconic Table Mountain. It’s the most direct and therefore the most popular route. The time to get up to the top ranges from 60min (“for the very fit people”) up to 3h. According to our hiking map, the reason for this variety is the fact that Platteklip has a very steep ascent. And jeez, it’s true. Brilliant timing that we had slept in that day and had to push ourselves up there in the blistering midday sun, with almost no shade to speak of. Nonetheless, we arrived 65min later – absolutely DRENCHED in sweat. What a fantastic workout! Up at the top is where you will meet the touristy crowd. Those people who (literally) wait 2-3h for a seat on the cable car and then have an ice-cream up on the summit thinking they earned it. It’s crazy how crowded it was around the cable car station and ridiculous how few people you would meet if you would only walk 50m away from it.
The plateau of Table Mountain encompasses 60km² and there are a great number of other hiking routes up there; the majority of them is considered to be dangerous. In fact, someone told me that each year, more people die on Table Mountain than on Mount Everest!
Interesting (slightly nerdy) fact: Table Mountain was selected as one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature in 2011. One reason for this is that there are more plant species growing on it than in the whole of England together! Personally, I was pretty impressed by that piece of information. Oh and ever heard of the “Table Cloth”? Due to the cold, wet air coming in from the ocean there is usually a oddly shaped cloud clinging to the top of the Mountain. The nickname of that phenomenon is perfectly fitting!
When we got back from this hike we showered and then – would you have guessed? – set off for our 2nd hike that day!
We were told that going up Lion’s Head at night to toast to the full moon is one of Cape Town’s traditions. Hence, we figured that it was an ideal summit from which to greet the new year. The walk up there is pretty steep and at some points you need to climb ladders, so it is URGENTLY advised that you take a headlamp or some sort of torch with you! The Cape-Townians know what they are doing though: The view from up there is truly breath-taking (although the fireworks were rather small compared to what we are used to from Germany). You get really amazing views over all the golden city lights. So if you ask me, a nocturnal hike up Lion’s Head (e.g. to watch the sunset) is a definite MUST! But please be more responsible than those smashed, flipfloppy and gin-bottle-but-no-torch-carrying tourists we had to bring back down the mountain… I was honestly relieved when we reached the foot of the mountain without seeing anyone tumble down some dark slope.
Two very awesome hikes! However, learn from my mistake and don’t do them on the same day… Even if you have as many ants in your panties as me – don’t listen to them! I woke up in 2017 as stiff and aching as a 99year-old granny…
But Cape Town offers many more impressive peaks: For instance, if you visit Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens (also highly recommended!), you should know that there is no fence at the back of the terrain. You just keep walking and soon you will be passing signs for hiking trails instead of flower beds. I wish we had known this before I decided against a sporty outfit on New Year’s Day… (at least that was my excuse, but the actual truth is that I could barely walk without flinching my face in pain with every step. Seriously, my legs were on fire! Gee, was I whiny that day….).
The other hike I can recommend is the one up to Chapman’s Peak. There’s actually a very popular scenic ocean drive at its foot (http://www.chapmanspeakdrive.co.za/). But naturally, you get an even better view when you get your ass outa the car 😉 The walk with its many wildflowers is very enjoyable and the views you get of the coastline and the other mountains is – again – epic. If it hadn’t been so damn windy that day, I would have wanted to stay up there forever!
Oh yeah, and a little P.S.: Watch some video footage from these hikes in our V-Log about Cape Town.