Table Mountain Adventure Hike: 3000 feet above the City

by Bryan Laney

Walking outside first thing in the morning I noticed the weather was beautiful. Clive, our guide, had insured us that we would be able to do our hike up Table Mountain today; even though there was cloud coverage at the top. The flat top peak of the mountain reaches 1,086 m above sea level, but being so close to the sea and to the city its features look imposing and iconic.There are about 2,200 species of plants found on Table Mountain and 1470 floral species. Many of these plants and flowers are endemic to this mountain.Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens found on the eastern foot of the mountain. Founded in 1913, the garden that spans an area of 1300 acres includes a unique conservatory with plants from different parts of the world.

We drove to the Kirstenbasch Gardens on the opposite side of the mountain to start our hike. The views were incredible right from the very beginning. Clive (the most awesome tour guide in all of South Africa) gave us a little safety brief before we started letting us know it was a “leisurely” hike up the trail to the top. Clive let us know there was a point in the hike that if you wanted to turn around it would be your only chance. It would take us 6-8 hours to complete our adventure. We started our hike, which started out pretty easy, even with Clive the superhuman running up the inclined walk way through the forest. You really had no view because the vegetation was so think. But you could see the mountain stream complete with many little waterfalls. We walked for a good 20 minutes before we came to the point of no return. Oh how I should have turned around… Once past the turn point the terrain switched immediately. It started to become incredibly rocky with more and more cross streams and a steadier incline. Joseph and I stayed in the back to insure Dr. Wilburn remained okay throughout the hike (per request from his wife). We first noticed that it was not a leisurely hike, like we were told, when we came across the first obstacle. CLIMBING A WATERFALL! (P.S. the water was COLD, VERY COLD!) After the waterfall the terrain continued to shift and the incline continued to increase. We climbed four ladders one after another. The whole time we were doing this Joseph and I were making jokes about how we were misled into this “leisurely hike,” really trying to figure out why we didn’t turn around. This hike was starting to become more like a mountain ascent. Then it happened…

We came to our first opening that had an absolutely incredible view of the backside of Cape Town. Words almost cannot describe something so amazing, and we didn’t even know yet. At that point I knew we were in for something even greater, so I wasn’t giving up. The further up we went the harder the “hike” became steeper inclines, tougher rocks. We pushed through. With each step having an even more breathtaking view than the last. The most satisfying feeling was when we reached the top, and came across others who were up there knowing that they took the cable car up (cheaters) and didn’t experience the excitement of the climb, and the sheer beauty of the mountain side. I took in every moment of this experience, it is now on my top ten things I’ve done list. I absolutely loved it even if I cussed out Clive the entire way up!