A number years ago, I was lucky enough to stay in Newlands and our back gate opened up into Newlands Forest. This meant endless walks in the forest and as a result I know the routes pretty well. From Newlands forest you also have access to many routes going up to the top of Table mountain and it always surprises me how many Capetonians have not yet ventured to the top.
Of course hiking is not for everyone but so many people avoid going just because they’re a bit apprehensive and not sure what to expect. So on a recent hike up, I took a few photos to hopefully inspire some of you to give it a try! Table Mountain is one of the New 7 wonders of Nature and it’s right on our doorstep, so what are you waiting for?
Skeleton Gorge is one of the most popular routes to the top of Table Mountain and is easy to access from Kirstenbosch Gardens. It’s generally very busy on the weekends so for a first timer, this is an ideal time to go. Look out for the signs and meander to the start on the contour path.
Skeleton Gorge is actually a ravine and is forested most of the route which makes it shady and great on a summer’s day. It’s non-stop climbing to the top though so make sure you are reasonably fit. If you aren’t that fit, just allow for more time and plenty of stops along the way. From the contour path to the top, at a relaxed pace, it will take around an hour and a half.
The beginning of the hike consists of lots of stairs and about halfway up you’ll reach some ladders. After this, you’ll be scrambling over large rocks in the actual river bed. When it’s dry like it is now, this is easy to do but remember to take care in winter when it can be wet and slippery.
The vegetation is lush with beautiful moss covered rocks and ferns. At the moment the red Disa is flowering and we were lucky enough to spot a few.
When you hit the soft white sand, you’ll know you’re at the top. There are a few routes to take from here but a must is to take the short stroll over to the Hely-Hutchinson Dam. This huge body of water and its beach will certainly surprise you. It’s the perfect spot to have a bite and to kick off your shoes and cool your feet.
From here you can obviously head back down the same way. I love walking past the dams and heading through Nursery Valley and then down Nursery Ravine back into the Kirstenbosch Gardens. For a longer walk though, you can walk to the Cable Car via Maclear’s Beacon which is the highest point on the mountain. The signs to Maclean’s Beacon are prominent and the walk is fairly easy with beautiful views. It took us about an hour from the dam to the Maclear’s Beacon.
From Maclear’s Beacon, it’s about 40 minutes to the Cable Car and the route is gentle and scenic.
Make sure you take enough money so that you can enjoy a well deserved drink at the restaurant and then take the Cable Car down. From here you can easily arrange an Uber to get you back to Kirstenbosch and your car.
– Take plenty of water to drink
– Make sure you have ample food and snacks to keep you going
– Take something warm or a wind breaker, the weather can change so fast and is often very different on the top
– Take sunscreen and hat
– Take a lightweight scarf, great for protection from the sun and to dip into the streams to keep you cool
All photography: Lana Kenney ©