Table Mountain National Park (TMNP) may include the famous Table Mountain that makes it on to at least one list of the world’s most beautiful mountains, and attracts millions of visitors annually.
But the national park extends way beyond the table top, including a whole range of mountains that form the spine of the Cape Peninsula in its range.
Its 22 000 hectares stretch from a vantage point overlooking the city of Cape Town in a curve round the southern suburbs all the way down to the Cape of Good Hope, protecting a swathe of forests, fynbos and the famous Cape Town beaches…
Here are 9 secrets of Table Mountain National Park that will have you visiting, tomorrow
The park is not one continuous piece of land
The undeveloped mountain region of the park – which includes Lion’s Head, Signal Hill, Devil’s Peak, the 17 peaks of the Twelve Apostles (go figure!), Orange Kloof, Cecilia and Newlands forests, and the upper reaches of Kirstenbosch – is separate from the Silvermine-Tokai section of the park, and the Cape Point section.
You can overnight on Table Mountain
The 5-day, 75 km Hoerikwaggo Trail includes a series of four overnight camps for hikers. They’re anything but your bog standard hiking hut, and they’re available to hire separate from the trail.
Choose from one of four camps – Orange Kloof (forest feel), Silvermine (mountain feel), Slangkop (beachside) and Smitswinkel (practically at Cape Point).
Tranquility Cracks recently went viral
A well known hike for fit hikers up Table Mountain through the fissures that make up the Twelve Apostles, but a relatively ‘unknown’ hike to the rest of the world, was recently filmed by Adam Spires, who placed drone footage of his climb up Tranquility Cracks on his vlog.
Oudekraal beach is part of Table Mountain National Park
Historically, this cove, and the mountains behind it, served as a refuge for escaped slaves. Today you can swim or dive from here, have a braai or picnic or hire the boma for an event.
Boulders Beach and the beaches of the Cape of Good Hope are also in the park
The former is often busy; at the latter you’ll be lucky to see another person. (see more about the penguins here).
Woody Ravine is a quieter alternative to Platteklip Gorge
As far as hikes up Table Mountain go, the route up Woody Ravine is one of the least crowded and direct routes up the table top.
Which isn’t to say that it is not steep and difficult, particularly in the areas where the route has deteriorated.
It is clearly marked. Start from the Table Mountain National Park parking area on Teresa Avenue in Camps Bay.
There are 2 lighthouses in the TMNP
Both of them at Cape Point, only one of which is in operation (the older one, built in the 1850s, sits too high above the ocean to be effective in times of low cloud).
Someone once saw an iceberg just off Cape Point
There apparently really was an officially recorded iceberg sighting just off Cape Point, during the 1800s.
There’s a round restaurant in the park, just below Lion’s Head
At which you can eat breakfasts and light lunches.
But few people know about the Round House and its Rumbullion terraces, in the very location where the VOC originally built a guardhouse back in 1786.
The views through the gardens out over the bay are pretty spectacular.