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Posted on: Wednesday, 18 December 2013
South African Hiking Trails

Hiking up Table Mountain – The Platteklip Gorge Hike

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Table Mountain Hike

Table Mountain Hike

In my twenty nine years, never once had I attempted to climb up Table Mountain. I figured that the cable car was in perfect working condition so the need was not there. But after road tripping around South Africa and hiking Sentinel Peak in the Drakensberg, I imagined hiking up Table Mountain to be rather easy.

After researching trails and inquiring about the easy routes, many people suggested Platteklip Gorge as the safest route, but also not as challenging as Skeleton Gorge

So round 8:30am, we set off onward and upward into the mountain with two friends and a beautiful husky.  There was no time to ease into this trail as large rocks and boulders marked the pathway.  I could hear the sound of a stream making its way down the mountain towards the reservoir where our cars were parked, but I couldn’t see it yet.


Table Mountain Hike


Thor, our mountain husky had never been up this mountain but bounded up 3 large rocks at a time.  When he got tired of waiting for us, he ran back down to check what was holding us up.

I kept hoping that a semi-flat path would crop up soon, but that was not to be.  This trail was purely uphill and both my thighs and heart seemed to kick into lower gears to endure the steep incline.


Thor on the hike


We finally passed the tiny waterfalls and river skimming over smooth rocks and making its way down the hill. We stopped to admire Cape Town city bowl expanding out before us.

Little bundles of cloud blew slowly over the Atlantic Seaboard into a clear blue sky around Devil’s Peak. Yellow daisies, purple flowers and bushes of fynbos lined the rocky path.


Up we go


As the morning sun already burnt us and I continued to climb up rocks half my height, I realised that this trail was by no means easier than our Drakensberg Hike.

Out of nowhere came the sounds of a xylophone in the tunnel of wind between the two rocky outcrops.  A man perched comfortably just off the path played sweet tunes and songs like ‘Chariots of Fire’ for weary hikers passing by and collected money in his hat.  After drinking water and watching him play, we had gained a little more energy to continue until the top.


Playing for hikers


Finally we reached the top of the stairs and I deluded myself into believing that the worst was over.  I enjoyed the flat walkways and wooden paths through reeds to Maclear’s Beacon.  We ate and admired the view and rock men, previous hikers had built before heading back down.


Awesome views


The descent was by far the worst part, my trusty knees never usually give me problems but they ached the entire way down. My thighs and legs started wobbling and combined with the smooth large boulders we had to transcend, I kept slipping.

Today I look back with extremely stiff thighs and say “I’ve climbed Table Mountain”.  One thing I will not be doing again, is climbing back via Platteklip Gorge.  Whichever trail I choose to hike up, I will use the cable car back down.

Plan your Hiking Adventure:


The descent


Lauren Manuel McShane


Six continents later, Lauren Manuel McShane still has itchy feet and wanderlust for adventure in all corners of the earth. She recently married the love of her life and together they are traveling the world pausing only to find work, take photos and write. She is currently in Asia and sharing everything about her expat life on The Travel Manuel.

You are reading Popular Hiking Trails and Walks in South Africa Series Read more from this series of articles.