If you’d like to hike Table Mountain during your stay in Cape Town but are unsure about the best time to do so, then this may help.

Locals joke that Cape Town experiences all four seasons in one day – and possibly before lunch – but there are well-defined seasons in Cape Town and the surrounding south-western Cape, an area that includes the Winelands and Whale Coast.

It’s tempting to label the seasons in the conventional western way – spring, summer, autumn and winter – although down here in the southern hemisphere it is the opposite of what you might be used to if you’re reading this in London or New York. January and February are mid-summer in Cape Town; June and July are the depths of winter.

A typical summer’s view from the top of Table Mountain: clear sky & lots of sunshine.

But Cape Town’s climate can be divided in a much simpler way – and with names that perhaps better suit the African context.

Cape Town has a wet season – mid-May to mid-October – and a dry season – late October to early May. It is wettest and coldest from June to August and hottest and driest between December and the end of March. The complete opposite, incidentally, to the rest of Southern Africa: the Kruger, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia all have dry winters and wet summers.

Strong winds blow in from the south-east in summer, picking up moisture from False Bay & dumping clouds over the mountains.

There are of course anomalies through the year: rain on Christmas Day (to which I can attest) or oven-hot winds in winter – the infamous ‘berg wind’ – the mountain wind. But the general climatic rules hold true, and if we use the more familiar four seasons with which to divide the year, then we have a good idea about the best time to hike Table Mountain or indeed visit Cape Town.



Generally hot, dry & windy weather; usually great for hiking but expect heat, a lot of sunshine & many other people on the more popular trails. Start as early as you can – it is light by 06:00 – & carry plenty of water. Very windy summer days create thick, wet cloud on the mountains, especially on Table Mountain’s famous Table Top. Strong wind also forces the cable car to suspend operations –prepare for a Plan B. Surprisingly good for fynbos flowers – especially orchids.

Thanks to summer’s south-easterly winds, a Table Cloth begins to form over Table Mountain – spectacular to look at …

But not so pleasant to walk in. Summer hiking can be cold & wet on Table Mountain.



The strong summer winds have died down & winter’s rain is still making its way to Cape Town. Together with warm to mild temperatures, these factors combine to make autumn one of the best times to hike Table Mountain, especially on the more popular trails which are so busy in summer. It’s a relatively quiet time of year for fynbos flowers but there is always something out, including several bizarre-looking members of the amaryllis family.

Autumn’s cooler weather often produces blankets of morning fog over lower ground.



Expect cool to mild temperatures with rain in the form of ill-tempered cold fronts coming off the Atlantic Ocean, delivering two or three days of stormy weather & even snow on the high ground out of town. But there are also long periods of superb weather – warm, dry, sunny & windless – that last for days & days. Table Mountain’s streams & waterfalls are all in full flow, many plants are in flower & fynbos birds are breeding. Winter has fantastic weather for hiking provided you get lucky with your timing.

Stripes or regular bands of high altitude cirrus clouds are a sign of approaching bad weather in winter.

The mottled clouds of a mackerel sky are also evidence of poor weather on the way.



Stand by for a bit of everything: hot days, cold days, a bit of wind, maybe some rain. But with 60% of fynbos in flower, Table Mountain is at its most handsome in spring & the best time of year to see what all the floral fuss is about. It is an especially good time of year for post-fire areas of fynbos where you’ll see what miraculously happens to a burnt, sandy wasteland after a dose of winter rain. Spring is also a great time for bird watching – migrant species are arriving – & it is whale season, making it possible to spot whales while you are hiking a mountain trail.

A looming rain cloud – nimbo stratus – makes its way across Cape Town in mid-winter, a period responsible for 70% of the city’s annual rainfall.

A winter waterfall on Table Mountain, complete with bright sunshine & water that’s safe to drink.

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