Climbing Table Mountain – up Skeleton Gorge and down Platteklip Gorge

Table Mountain is one of the Cape’s many beauties – perhaps the Queen – and there are more than 300 routes that will take you to her top. The most famous one goes through Platterklip Gorge, but make no mistake … famous doesn’t mean easy!

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Shaun and I decided to give it a bash, and chose to walk through Skeleton Gorge (which starts at Kirstenbosch Gardens).  I don’t hike a lot as I come from a very very very flat country, so I did the wise thing and bought a map of Table Mountain and of Kirstenbosch Gardens. Before starting off, we went to the info desk and they explained which routes to take. They also shared a few things that would help us make sure we were on the right track or not

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The first hour consists only of steps leaving from Kirstenbosch, after which you have to start climbing ladders and stones. For me, it was quite physical – specifically those steps in the beginning. But the scenery is gorgeous, and serves to take the mind off those burning ‘glutes! Once you finally get out of Kirstenbosch Gardens, the most amazing view of Cape Town reveals itself.

At the top it was really windy and cold, which could only mean that the cable car was closed. There was only one way down, and that was by foot! We decided to descend via  Platterklip Gorge.

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Platterklip Gorge is beautiful (but still second to Skeleton Gorge!) It is, for the most part, stones you need to navigate, and there isn’t a big variety of landscape and view. I was lucky to do my hike with Shaun Jenkinson, field guide at Marataba Safari Lodge, as he is experienced in reading maps and in hiking terrific terrain. He also applied his vast knowledge about the birds, plants and trees we came across.

In short, this will go down as one of my great Africa memories, and I would definitely do it again!

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Useful Tip’s:

  • Choose the right day: Make sure it didn’t rain the day before, as the route might be muddy and stones slippery.
  • If you are planning on descending via the cable car, make sure to check if it is open.
  • Going down on foot can be testing on the knees, and I wouldn’t personally recommend it.
  • If you decide to take a route other than Platterklip Gorge, make sure to buy a map as it is not very well indicated.
  • If you are afraid of walking on your own, you can book a tour and have a guide doing the walk with you.
  • Check the weather on the top of the mountain, as it could be much colder then at the start. You don’t want to be ill-prepared up there…
  • If you walk in summer, bring sunscreen, hat, water and some food for energy. If you walk in winter: rain coat, warm jersey(s) – I had two on – comfortable shorts or leggings for the climbing part.
  • Don’t forget to listen to the birds, the wind, to smell the fresh air, the plants and to enjoy the view!
  • PS Don’t feel intimidated when coming across people doing their Saturday jogging UP Table Mountain, while you huff and puff… It is worth the effort!

Chat to the guest relations team for more information on hiking Table Mountain. MORE Private Travel can assist with transfers and tours.

Images ad words by Intern Alix Froidbise

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