Platteklip Gorge is one of the most popular hiking trails on Table Mountain. It is one of the shortest and most direct routes to the top, but it is steep and gains elevation quickly (about 700m) making it challenging. The trail is a rocky stepped track, is not technical and it starts near the lower cable station. The route offers no shade for most of the day as it is situated on the front face of the mountain and so a hike should be started early – a piece of advice we did not follow. You summit on the main plateau and from there have the option of turning left to go to Maclear’s Beacon (the highest point on Table Mountain) or right to upper cable station.
We had been wanting to hike up Table Mountain and take the cable car down for a while, but the cable car only operates in good weather conditions, and being summer in Cape Town finding a Saturday that wasn’t too windy for the cable car was like trying find an empty laundry basket in our house. The Table Mountain cableway has a website which informs you of the current operational status (https://www.tablemountain.net/) so it’s worth checking this out before going if you are planning to take the cable car. Finally, a sneaky Monday public holiday came along, the weather was perfect so we decided to give it a go.
Knowing that it was going to be a tough one for Emma, we wanted to limit the amount of walking at the beginning, so we parked at the official start of the trail which is a little further along Tafelberg Road than the lower cable station. We got the boys in their carriers, gave Emma a little pep talk, encouraged her with the fact that she had already climbed to the top of Lion’s Head and then headed off. Because we hadn’t actually planned on hiking until we saw the beautiful weather that morning, by the time we started it was already hot and getting hotter. Within just a few minutes of starting the hike the kids already wanted something to drink. Our first stop was about 12 minutes into the hike, Emma drank half her bottle of juice and then we continued.
It was hot, we were hot, Emma’s cheeks glowed a bright pink.
We made our way up the stepped path stopping regularly to drink. The route was busy and most hikers looked about as hot and tired as we felt. It was hot, we were hot, Emma’s cheeks glowed a bright pink. She was taking strain but by this point we were more than half way up and decided it would be best to keep on going. We managed to find a little tree which offered the tiniest amount of shade just big enough for Emma. Here she finished all the water that we had left, but it seemed to give her the boost she needed.
I’m always so amazed by how friendly and caring fellow hikers can be. Greeting the kids, encouraging them and on this hot day even offering them some of their precious water. I will forever be grateful to a kind woman who gave Em some ice water when she really needed it (I’m not sure what kind of magic had kept it icy). An interesting experience, which was a first for us, was that our family became a bit of a tourist attraction with tourists taking photos of us and even posing for photos with us.
Eventually we got to the final passage, we all had a burst of energy with the end in sight and pushed to the top. It was totally worth it! Once on top the views are spectacular! We decided not to go to Maclear’s Beacon and headed in the direction of the restaurant to get some much needed cold water. The flat route to the upper cable station is beautiful with many view points on the way. It was way busier on top than I had expected. We made it to the restaurant and the first stop was the eco-toilets for the kids – this was an interesting experience. We then bought some cold water and well-deserved ice cream, found a shady spot and enjoyed these like champions.
It was totally worth it! Once on top the views are spectacular!
Once we felt ready we bought our cable car tickets and headed off to stand in the long, sun-exposed queue. Thankfully the queue moved fairly quickly and we were soon climbing into the cable car. The excitement from the kids was tangible although I don’t think they really knew what was going to happen. The trip down was fast, fun and petty as we got a 360◦ view because the floor of the cable car rotates.
Once we were back down the plan had been for Brian to walk to the car and come collect us, but by now we were all pretty tired and so we did what tired people do and caught an Uber. This may actually have been the highlight of the kid’s day as they got to drive a short distance in a car while not being strapped into car-seats. For the next week or so Emma and Jude proudly told everyone that they had hiked to the top of Table Mountain. All in all it was a tiring day but a really great adventure.