Cape Town: The many steps of Table Mountain

It was a race against the rising sun. Eventually we arrived on top of Cape Town’s Table Mountain … aaaand – we were lonely wanderers at the top! Nobody else was seen 🙂

It is 5 am when we leave our hotel and drive towards the cable car station. There is no soul to be seen and we can choose from numerous parking spaces at about 5:30 am. We know that the entry to our path called Platteklip Gorge starts a little behind the cable car station. So we make our way to search for the entry.

Still, it is pitch black outside and I am a little nervous considering the fact that we have to walk up the mountain in darkness. After 20 minutes, we reach the entry to our path and I unpack my breakfast biscuits to get some energy for the hike. The headlamp is fixed on my forehead and I turn my head to get to know the area. Steps. I can see a lot of stone steps. A lot!

Step by step on Platteklip Gorge

Platteklip means „flat rock“ but I do not agree with flat. Actually, it does not mean that the track is flat, it means that there are a lot of flat rocks paving the way. Anyway – there is nothing flat-like on our way up the table mountain. The path is easily recognizable and obvious to follow. The path is clear, but the climb is very steep. There is no passage that is flat, not even just a few steps to reduce the heartrate. The hike starts at about 350 metres above sea level and ends at the top at about 1020 metres, so there are 700 metres in altitude to conquer.

The sun is rising quickly above Mother City

I feel like a steam locomotive, at least I sound like it. With every step, I breathe in deeply and exhale loudly. When I turn around I can see the city glittering far beneath ourselves. The horizon starts to turn blue and slowly orange. It looks like an incomplete rainbow that is embracing the city as it awakens. This is so worth it … I focus on every step I take and every platteklip I master. It’s not that the hike is extremely hard, it’s just the steps that make it hard for me. But I know that whenever I turn my head over my shoulder, I am rewarded with the most beautiful view of Cape Town.

As the sun is rising slowly, I turn off my headlamp, scrape my forehead and look at the city at our feet. But we have to keep going in order not to walk in the gleaming sunlight. There is not one cloud in the sky. Quickly, I turn around again and enjoy the silence up the hill.

Steep to the top

The top is getting closer, but the path is getting steeper. There are rocky sections where I have to watch my footing carefully. I am glad to have taken the good walking shoes and that I have packed plenty of water to stay hydrated. The gorge towards the top is clearly visible now and I reckon it’s not going to take long. But the path is constructed in serpentines due to the steep mountain and it takes me longer than expected. The sun is out and its rays of light meet us mercilessly. The gorge offers shadows, this is the next goal. A couple of minutes rest in the shadow and off we go – straight to the top.

Suddently, it’s there! We are there. We did it. We are at the top of Table Mountain. And it does look like a flat stone, indeed! No sign anymore of the steep path we just hiked up, just wide and seemingly endless plateau covered with grass and plants. And when I stand on my toes, I can see the city below.

On top of Cape Town

After 1 hour and 50 minutes hike, we walk towards the edge of the plateau, while I am still waiting for my breathing to relax. What I can see there is just as amazing as the rising sun on the horizon. It is a buzzing city at the sea, which seems so far away. It is completely silent, apart from the wind that is chilling our faces in the sun. We take our time to explore the plateau and to discover the city from various angles.

The day before, we decided to get a cable car ticket for the way back down. The track is even more demanding when going downwards. Right in front of the cable car top station, we meet some dassies (which are surprisingly related to elephants!) who are eagerly waiting for the tourists to arrive with their snacks. And here they come – the first cable car visitors on top of the mountain.

We have a little breakfast before going down and enjoying the view from the rotating cable car. We did it. Step by step.