Pushed for time? Got something planned in the afternoon? Table Mountain was made for half-day hiking. Whether it’s a hike up and the cable car down or a hike up and down, you’ll be finished by lunchtime and have the rest of the day free. And if you want the sunset up there – well, half day Table Mountain hikes work just as well in the afternoon too.

The biggest determining factor is if you want to ride down with the cable car. If so, you have two options; if not, there are many excellent half day hikes all over Table Mountain but you’ll need to walk down as well. And I always take the easiest way down!

Half-Day Table Mountain Hike with Cable Car

There are two options for a hike with a cable car descent. Simple to access, both are on the front, flat-topped face that overlooks Cape Town and each has a separate appeal.

Platteklip Gorge is the easiest way up Table Mountain. There is no scrambling (using your hands and arms for balance and pulling yourself up and over boulders) – Platteklip Gorge is a giant staircase up Table Mountain with regular switchbacks to catch your breath on.

The fynbos is thick and full of flowers at most times of year. You’ll enjoy increasingly panoramic views as you hike up and are rewarded by epic views at the top. Gazing over Cape Town and Table Bay, we can hike across the flat top to Maclear’s Beacon where we’ll see the rest of the Peninsula lying south of us. Or we can simply stroll to the cable car, taking in views of the 12 Apostles Range and Camps Bay.

India Venster is a more challenging half day hike up Table Mountain. The route summits at the same place as Platteklip Gorge but you’ll need a head for heights and do a bit of scrambling for this one. The rewards are stunning, ever-changing views as well as diverse and fascinating flora. You’ll also see hardly anyone else – something to consider if you want to avoid the greater number of hikers in Platteklip Gorge.

It’s an easier trail than most people think – there’s no rope needed – and most sections are two or three simple moves over boulders. One part has steel staples and chains bolted into the rock, making a once-tricky section into an easy one. If you can clamber over a climbing frame or jungle gym, you can hike India Venster.

Half-Day Table Mountain Hike – No Cable Car

If you don’t need – or want – to come down via cable car then, a whole new world opens up. All involve a measure of scrambling but I always descend the safest way possible.

Table Mountain’s 12 Apostles range offers several excellent half day hikes; you’re rewarded with grand views of the Atlantic Ocean and you get to see one of the wildest parts of the mountain. It’s very scenic and there is beautiful fynbos vegetation on every trail.

The Constantia part of Table Mountain has two highly recommended half-dayers, both with amazing views. One of the best fynbos trails, the Camel Rock route involves a few easy scrambles in a dramatic, wind-sculptured landscape; the Cecelia Ridge trail makes its way up the mountain on forested contour paths before a short but steep pull to the top. Cecelia Ridge is mostly shaded – great for summer – and one of the easiest ways up Table Mountain. Both descend via a 4X4 jeep track – nice and easy!

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