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Table Mountain is an iconic mountain, which represents the image of Cape Town in South Africa. You can climb to the top via numerous trekking itineraries. In this article, we describe the ascent through the Platteklip Gorge.


Trekking: Platteklip Gorge, Table Mountain, South Africa


Wherever you are in Cape Town, the mass of Table Mountain chases you and fascinates you with its particular profile and its beauty. Despite being "only" 1086 meters high above sea level, it is a very large mountain group that connects with the reliefs of the Cape of Good Hope peninsula (with which it, in fact, forms a single protected natural area).

On the occasion of our last trip to South Africa, in February 2024, we had the opportunity to follow a beautiful hiking itinerary to climb to the top of Table Mountain, perhaps the simplest, but no less exciting: the path that crosses the Platteklip Gorge.

The start of the trail is well signposted: it is located along Tafelberg Road (see our photos and our slide gallery), about a kilometer after the valley station of the cable car to Table Mountain (see our map below). You can park your car in a clearing, just before the start of the path. The starting altitude is just under 400 metres a.s.l., and the difference in altitude to be covered to get to the top is around 700 metres.







The path immediately begins to climb with a moderate slope along the side of Table Mountain, in a S/SE direction. The path is clear and wide, and immediately characterized by boulders and stones, expertly positioned, or sculpted, to act as rather high steps. The path will mostly remain like this until the exit from Platteklip Gorge, except for a few flat or slightly sloping connecting sections. The first part of the path, in the afternoon, is exposed to the sun, and, in summer (December - March), it can be quite hot. In the morning, however, almost the entire route remains in the shade.

After just 15 minutes of walking, and 500 meters of walking, you reach an important crossroads, with some signs: on the left you continue towards the Platteklip Gorge, while on the right you go towards the more challenging itineraries that go up the rocky bastion of Table Mountain, near the cable car. These itineraries include wooden stairs, sections equipped with metal chains, and exposed points, and therefore require greater experience and safety to be tackled.

Continuing towards the Platteklip Gorge, we pass an intermediate stretch, relatively easy and not too tiring, which takes us to the beginning of the actual gorge. In this stretch, we can admire a magnificent view of Cape Town, and its main neighborhoods (City Bowl, Waterfront, Bo-Kaap, etc.) and the coast that extends to the North West of the city.






After about 40 minutes of walking, at an altitude of about 700 metres, the path heads decisively towards the Platteklip Gorge and becomes progressively steeper. The walls of the gorge become increasingly closer and more impressive and tighten around us. The last stretch, at above 800 meters above sea level, is characterized by a really steep slope, which reaches up to 40%; the path tones it down a bit with some providential bends. The steps to climb are quite high and take your breath away. Take the right pace for you, and stop every now and then, also to enjoy the majestic scenery around.

In reality, the strenuous stretch doesn't last that long. With a little patience, after about 1 hour and 15 minutes of walking, you pass the last narrow gap that ends the rocky gorge (just above 1050 meters above sea level), and reach the wide and panoramic summit of Table Mountain, with the view that can finally span 360 degrees (to tell the truth, once you leave the gorge, you still have a few hundred meters of modestly sloping route, in a north-west direction, to reach the actual summit plateau).

Once at the top (1086 meters above sea level, 1.20 hours), the view is magnificent: from the Cape of Good Hope, to Hout Bay and Chapman's peak, and obviously to the various neighborhoods of Cape Town (in addition to those already mentioned, you can admire Camps Bay, Clifton, with the "12 Apostles" looming over), up to the beaches of the coast to the north, Sunset Beach and Big Bay. Click here for photos of the Table Mountain trek.

For reasons of time, we went down by cable way, and then returned to the car on foot along Tafelberg Road. Otherwise, you can descend from the ascent path in less than an hour, or complete a loop via one of the other (more challenging) itineraries that descend from Table Mountain. Some sites (e.g. that of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) advise against trekking Table Mountain alone, or at sunset, due to the risk of possible robberies. In mid-afternoon, we encountered many people going up or down the path, and we did not perceive any dangerous situations.

Enjoy your trip. Fabio Muriano


Click here for photos of the Table Mountain trek


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