The Table Mountains of South Africa! A visit to South Africa would not be complete without a visit to one of the wonders of South Africa. Known as the gateway to Africa, Table Mountain was voted as one of the new seven natural wonders of the world by the New7Wonders on November 2011. Table Mountain with its unique flat-topped peaks which reach 1,086 meters above sea level is, without doubt, the most recognized site in Cape Town and very much an integral part of the Cape Town experience. The Table Mountain is a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Cape Town in South Africa and is in fact featured in the Flag of Cape Town and also in other local government insignia.
Muslim travelers must take in the glorious views of this magnificent Table Mountain while exploring the endemic floral and animal species that abound in the wilderness of the Table Mountain region.
The glorious views of the magnificent Table Mountain are famed worldwide. Tourists especially climb the summit or enjoy the scenic cable car ride to the top to take in the breathtaking overview of Cape Town from the mountain top. In addition, you will also be overwhelmed by the 360-degree views of Table Bay, the rest of the Table Mountain National Park, the nearby peaks of the surrounding mountains, and the fabulous view of the sunset. Table Mountain is inundated with so many remarkable views and sights that it is an ideal place for nature lovers and nature photographers to visit.
The most popular activity at Table Mountain is hiking. There are more than 350 available trails and many of them start at the Camps Bay side of the mountain, or the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, and even from the city center itself. However, there are also walking tours, caving, rock climbing, mountain biking, and picnicking that can be enjoyed in this amazing wonder of South Africa. Let’s also not forego a walk through the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens founded in 1913 on the eastern foot of the mountain, which spans an area of 1,300 acres and includes a unique conservatory with plants from different parts of the world.
Hiking in Table Mountain is very popular and mostly free. There are over 350 trails that lead to the top for all types of hikers - from casual strollers to the more experienced and adventurous hikers. The Constantiaberg, the Silvermine or the Cape of Good Hope trails are the easier ones, while the Platteklip Gorge, Nursery Ravine, or Skeleton Gorge are the more difficult trails. A conservation fee will be charged to enter areas such as Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden, Cape Point, or Boulders Beach.
Although the hiking trails are well marked, it is best to hike in company or groups. Remember, that Table Mountain is ultimately a natural reserve with wildlife abounding within this wild and untamed mountain.
There are also free guided walking tours available at Table Mountain. The thirty-minute free guided tours take place on the hour from 9.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. daily, departing from the Twelve Apostles Terrace (below the Café). These are family-friendly walks conducted by staff, who will also share the story of Table Mountain and the Cableway, and provide any assistance you may require. For those who prefer an Audio tour, these are also available.
Alternatively, some local volunteers also offer free guided walks on the second Sunday of every month. The meeting point is inside the main gate. To participate in these walking guided tours, visitors must wear the proper gear and strong boots, and also carry their hats/caps, sunscreen, water, raincoat, and snacks. A wild card must also be obtained from the Tokai Tourism Sales Office which is closed daily from 12.30 p.m. to 1.00 p.m. Contact telephone is +27 021 712 7471.
Table Mountain is unusual in having several large cave systems that have developed in sandstone. The biggest systems are the Wynberg Caves, located on the Back Table, not far from the Jeep Track, in ridges overlooking Orange Kloof and Hout Bay.
Rock climbing on Table Mountain is also very popular. There are many well-known climbing routes of different degrees of difficulty up the many faces of the mountain. The main climbs are located on cliffs below the upper cable station. Only traditional climbing is allowed. Commercial groups also offer abseiling from the upper cable station.
The slopes of Table Mountain have many jeep tracks that allow mountain biking. The route to the Block House is a popular route for bike riding. There are well-marked direction signs that Bike riders should follow.
Table Mountain has resisted six million years of erosion and is home to several rare and endangered flora and fauna. There are over 1,470 floral species, many of which are endemic to Table Mountain. In fact, Table Mountain is part of the ‘Table Mountain National Park, South Africa’, where you will also find animals such as caracals, rock hyraxes, or chacma baboons, as well as lizards, insects, and birdlife which are unique to the region. It is also home to the Table Mountain Ghost Frog, an animal that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. Simply put, Table Mountain flourishes with rich biodiversity that you will not be able to find anywhere else on earth!
Visitors can reach the top of Table Mountain by cable car or by taking a hike or walking. The cable car starts at the foot of the mountain and reaching it is quite easy. For hikers, there are several options discussed above.
To reach the foot of the mountain, there you can use the MyCiTi bus or the free shuttle service, the City Sightseeing’s hop-on hop-off bus, or meter taxis and Uber. Driving or using a private car is another option, except, that finding parking spots is difficult.
Since 1929, there has been a cable car in operation to reach the summit of the Table Mountain. It is the fastest and easiest way of reaching the top. Visitors can purchase the Table Mountain cable car tickets either at the station at the foot of the mountain or from the city sightseeing bus drivers. Tickets are priced from 70 Rand to 255 Rand (terms and conditions apply). There are different prices for adults, children (aged 4 to 17), senior citizens, and students. There are also one-way and return ticket options.
The cable car is operational from 8.30 a.m. every day (first car up), except from 16th December and 15th January when it opens at 8.00 a.m. The cable car’s last car down varies between 4.30 pm (1st May to 31st August) to 9.30 pm (from 16th December and 15th January) depending on the season. The Cableway is closed for annual maintenance from around 25th July to 7th August, weather permitting.
Entry Fees are required for areas including the Boulders Beach, Silvermine Dam, Cape Hope, Oudekraal, Perdekloof, Orangekloof, Tokai Forest, and Newslands Braai Sites. There are different fees for adults and children (2 to 11 years) that vary for the different areas from 6 Rand to 125 Rand per day. If traveling into the Park areas by vehicle, then vehicle entry fees and parking fees are also applicable.
Halal food and Prayer facilities at the Summit of Table Mountain – There is a Café at the summit of Table Mountain with a wide variety of food types. However, Muslim travelers will have to check if the food served is halal. If possible take along some snacks on your visit. If you are on the top of Table Mountain enjoying the sunset, then you can possibly observe your evening prayers in an area that is not crowded. Don’t forget to take your prayer mat with you.
With October approaching, there is still time to take a tour of South Africa before the end of the ‘best weather’ season of the country. With its famed Kruger Park and its iconic Table Mountain overlooking the city of Cape Town, visitors to this country must include a visit to the magnificent Table Mountain with its unique flora and fauna as part of their must-do and must-see lists of things in the Cape Town experience in South Africa.
Cover Image Credit: Rutendo Petros on Unsplash
Sakina has over 10 years of experience in the field of corporate communications; having worked for a leading Annual Report Production House dealing with top corporates of Sri Lanka and overseas, and later as the Group Communications Specialist for a Sri Lankan conglomerate for their overseas plantations business. She is well-versed in the production process of annual reports, sustainability reports, corporate videos and other corporate communication media. She also has experience in Social Media Marketing and works to increase and improve social media presence of corporates and small niche market businesses. Today, she works as a freelance writer and undertakes consultations on corporate communications and social media related projects. She enjoys writing for blogs on topics of interest.