South Africa’s most famous landmark, Table Mountain, is more than just a pile of rock in the bay. A protected national park, it has some remarkable features that make it a great destination for nature-lovers, deserving of more than just a quick cable car ride to see the view from the top.
The mountain forms part of Table Mountain National Park, which is globally recognised for its biodiversity, and contains truly unique fauna and flora. The park encompasses the Table Mountain chain stretching from Signal Hill in the north to Cape Point in the south and the seas and coastline of the peninsula.
It is primarily an open-access park with only a few points where conservation fees are payable including Cape Point, Boulders (where you’ll see penguins), the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden and Silvermine.
The Table Mountain Aerial Cableway was the solution to the arduous walk and climb to the top. Since its opening in 1929, more than 22 million people have taken the trip to the top of Table Mountain. The new cableway was upgraded and officially reopened on 4 October 1997.
At the upper cable station you will find a restaurant and a curio shop as well as a network of footpaths to explore the table top.
There are plenty of hiking trails from the Camps Bay side of the mountain, as well as from the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and even from the city centre itself.
You can walk or climb the mountain, or even abseil down it, depending on your expertise and fitness levels, but be warned. Although the mountain may look tame on any given day, each year it claims lives as people set off under-prepared for a sudden change in weather. Always hike in a group and carry water and warm clothing with you. Better still, hire a guide or ask an experienced hiker to take you along.