Discover Table Mountain: Cape Town's Iconic Landmark

Posted on Wed July 3, 2024.

Explore Table Mountain, Cape Town's iconic landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Discover the history behind its unique flat-topped appearance and its status as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. Learn about the thrilling cable car rides offering panoramic views, and the adventurous hiking trails through diverse fynbos vegetation. Encounter Table Mountain's rich biodiversity, including the elusive Table Mountain ghost frog. Whether you're a nature enthusiast or a history buff, Table Mountain promises unforgettable experiences amidst stunning natural beauty.

Table Mountain: Cape Town’s Iconic Landmark

Explore Cape Town’s Majestic Table Mountain

Nestled in the heart of Cape Town, Table Mountain stands as a symbol of the city's natural beauty and cultural heritage. Recognized as one of the New7Wonders of Nature, this flat-topped marvel draws visitors from around the world, eager to experience its breathtaking views, diverse flora and fauna, and unique geological features. Whether you're a thrill-seeker, nature lover, or history buff, a visit to Table Mountain is an unmissable adventure.

Location and Significance

Table Mountain is located in Cape Town, South Africa’s legislative capital, often referred to as the “Mother City.” This iconic landmark forms part of the Table Mountain National Park and offers panoramic views of the bustling harbour, the cityscape, and the distant Robben Island, the infamous prison that once held Nelson Mandela.

Table Mountain, shrouded in its signature 'tablecloth' of clouds, creates a mystical and captivating scene above Cape Town.

Cloud over Table Mountain 

A Geological Marvel

Standing at 1,087 meters above sea level, Table Mountain is characterised by its flat summit, which spans approximately three kilometres. This geological wonder is flanked by Devil's Peak to the east and Lion's Head to the west, creating a stunning natural amphitheatre. The mountain's topography is unique; it's believed that the flat plateau was once the bottom of a valley. Often draped in a layer of clouds known as the “tablecloth,” the summit provides unparalleled views of Cape Town and the Cape Peninsula when the skies clear.

Reaching the Summit

One of the most exciting ways to reach the summit of Table Mountain is by riding the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway. This modern cable car, with a rotating floor, offers a 360-degree view of the landscape as it ascends to the top in just under 10 minutes. Each journey is a gentle glide over the rugged cliffs, providing a stunning perspective of the city below.

Tip: Due to its popularity, it's recommended to book your cable car tickets in advance to avoid long waits and potential disappointment. The best time to visit is during Cape Town's summer months (October to March), but always check the weather as the cableway closes during adverse conditions.

Table Mountain Entrance Fee

Entrance to Table Mountain via the cable car requires a ticket, which can be purchased online or at the base station. It's advisable to book in advance to skip the lines and ensure your spot, especially during peak tourist seasons.

Ticket Prices - Table Mountain Aerial Cableway: Prices for the cable car ride vary. As of 2024, a return ticket costs R430 for adults and R215 for children. Check the official Table Mountain website for the most up-to-date rates.

Practical Information:

Opening Hours: Table Mountain's accessibility varies based on weather conditions. Check ahead to ensure the cable car or hiking trails are open.
Best Time to Visit: Summer months (November to March) offer clear skies and ideal weather for outdoor activities. Spring (September to November) and autumn (April to May) are also pleasant, with fewer tourists.

Best Time to Visit Table Mountain

Cape Town boasts a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters. The ideal time to visit Table Mountain is from October to March when the weather is typically clear and sunny. However, always check the weather forecast before your trip, as conditions at the summit can change rapidly, affecting cableway operations.

Table Mountain Closure Information

Reasons for Closure:

Weather Conditions:

High Winds: Strong winds can make the cable car unsafe to operate.
Poor Visibility: Fog, mist, or heavy cloud cover can obstruct views and pose safety risks.
Rain or Storms: Adverse weather conditions can affect hiking trails and visitor safety.

Maintenance:

Regular Maintenance: Scheduled maintenance of the cable car or hiking trails may require temporary closure.
Safety Inspections: Periodic safety inspections ensure the facilities meet operational standards.

How to Know Before You Go:

Check Weather Forecasts:

Monitor weather forecasts for Cape Town, specifically conditions affecting Table Mountain. Websites like Weather.com or local forecasts can provide up-to-date information.

Visit Official Websites:

Check the official Table Mountain Aerial Cableway website for closure notices and operational updates. They often provide real-time information on closures due to weather or maintenance.

Contact Information:

Save contact details for Table Mountain Aerial Cableway or Table Mountain National Park to inquire about closures:

Website: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway
Phone: +27 (0)21 424 0015 (Table Mountain Aerial Cableway)
Park Authorities: Table Mountain National Park office at +27 (0)21 712 0527.

Social Media and Apps:

Follow Table Mountain's official social media channels for immediate updates:Twitter: @TableMountainCa
Facebook: Table Mountain Aerial Cableway

By staying informed through these channels, you can plan your visit to Table Mountain accordingly and avoid disappointment due to unforeseen closures.

How Long is a Cable Car Ride?

The cable car ride to the summit of Table Mountain takes less than 10 minutes. This swift ascent is one of Cape Town's most popular tourist experiences, attracting approximately one million visitors annually. In January 2019, the cableway celebrated welcoming its 28 millionth visitor.

The cableway, constructed in 1929, originally had a capacity of 25 passengers. Today, the modernised cars can carry up to 65 visitors, offering a smooth and scenic journey to the 3,500-foot summit.

Hiking Adventures

For those who prefer a more active approach, Table Mountain offers a variety of hiking trails. The most popular route, Platteklip Gorge, zigzags up the centre of the mountain and provides a challenging yet rewarding climb. This trail takes approximately two hours and is renowned for its stunning views and diverse plant life, including the unique fynbos vegetation.

Safety Tip: Always hike with proper gear and inform someone about your plans. Use services like @safetymountain on WhatsApp for tracking and safety updates. Emergency numbers for Table Mountain are 086 110 6417 or 021 480 7700. Click here for more information on Safe Hiking. 

Flora and Fauna

Table Mountain is a biodiversity hotspot with over 8,200 plant species, many of which are endemic. The mountain's diverse habitats support an array of wildlife, including the rock hyrax, or dassie, which resembles a large guinea pig but is related to the elephant. Other inhabitants include porcupines, mongooses, lizards, and the rare Table Mountain ghost frog.

Interesting Facts About Table Mountain


- Cultural Heritage: The indigenous Khoisan people called it “Hoerikwaggo,” meaning “Mountain in the Sea.”
- European Discovery: Portuguese explorer Antonio de Saldanha was the first European to hike Table Mountain in 1503, naming it “Taboa de Cabo” or “Table of the Cape.”
- Maclear's Beacon: The highest point on Table Mountain is Maclear’s Beacon, standing at 1,086 meters above sea level. It was named after Sir Thomas Maclear, the Astronomer Royal at the Cape, who used it for surveying in the 19th century.
- The Tablecloth: The orographic clouds that frequently cover the summit are called the “tablecloth.

What to Bring

Cape Town’s weather can be unpredictable, even during the summer. It's advisable to bring warm clothing as temperatures can drop significantly at the summit. The average temperature in summer ranges from 16°C to 28°C, but it can feel much colder at higher altitudes. Also, bring sun protection, water, and sturdy footwear if you plan to hike.

Activities and Amenities

At the summit, visitors can enjoy more than just the views. There are several walking paths, a café, a bar, and a curio shop where you can purchase snacks, souvenirs, and gifts. The summit is also a popular spot for romantic proposals, with two couples getting engaged here every month!

Plan Your Visit

Ready to explore Table Mountain? Whether you choose to hike or take the cable car, a visit to this iconic landmark is a must on your Cape Town itinerary.

Book a Guided Table Mountain Tour
Learn More About Cape Town’s Top Attractions
Discover Accommodation Options in Cape Town

Additional Resources

Looking for more tips and guides on Cape Town? Check out our blog for detailed travel guides, tips on the best times to visit, and insider knowledge to make the most of your Cape Town adventure.

- Cape Town Travel Guide: Top Attractions and Activities*
- Cape Winelands Guide: Best Wine Tasting Tours
- Family-Friendly Activities in Cape Town

Explore More Travel Guides

Plan Your Visit

Prepare for your Table Mountain adventure by packing appropriate clothing, sunscreen, and plenty of water. Whether you're capturing the perfect photo of the "tablecloth" cloud cover or exploring the mountain's rich biodiversity, Table Mountain promises a memorable experience.

Ready to Explore?

Book your Table Mountain experience today and immerse yourself in Cape Town's natural splendour. For more details or to plan your visit, contact us at [email protected] or message us on WhatsApp at +27609867612.

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With its stunning views, rich biodiversity, and fascinating history, Table Mountain is more than just a tourist attraction; it’s a gateway to the natural and cultural wonders of Cape Town. Plan your visit today and discover why this landmark is a cherished part of South Africa's heritage.

For more information and to book your Cape Town tour, visit Into Tours. 

Let Table Mountain inspire your next adventure.