Travel Guide

Desk Mountain mountain climbing information – 5 superb trails

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Desk Mountain is Cape City’s most well-known attraction and a must-visit place in Cape City. Mountain climbing on Desk Mountain is a good way to see town and its environment. The views from the highest are actually spectacular. The simplest and quickest manner of attending to the highest is to take a cable automobile. Strolling up following one of many Desk Mountain mountain climbing trails is a much more difficult however far more rewarding experience. There are a number of routes going up in addition to a few stunning hikes on the highest of the mountain. Mountain climbing Desk Mountain is among the most enjoyable things to do in Cape City.

A stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Town beaches from Table Mountain
A panoramic view of Camps Bay, Clifton Seashores, and the ocean from the Higher Cable Automotive station on Desk Mountain

Recommended excursions and actions

How lengthy is the Desk Mountain hike?

There are 5 official routes (Platteklip Gorge, Skeleton Gorge, India Venster, Kasteelspoort, and Diagonal) for mountain climbing up Desk Mountain. The space and time rely upon the chosen path. The Skeleton Gorge is the shortest and the most well-liked route – 2,5 km. It takes between 1 hour and 1h30 min. to get to the highest.

Is Desk Mountain a tough hike?

Mountain climbing Desk Mountain is difficult whatever the chosen route. The typical ascent (relying on the route) is between 600 m and 700 m. The descent is simply as troublesome because the ascent contemplating the rocky terrain and steepness of the paths.

Is it protected to hike alone?

  • When you observe one of many fashionable routes or hike on the highest of Desk Mountain you have to be fairly protected.
  • Don’t hike at night time time or late within the night in winter.
  • When you select a lesser-used route, relatively go on the weekend when there are extra folks.
  • It’s higher to be a few folks on the route particularly for those who hike on weekdays or low season.
  • When you don’t need to hike alone you’ll be able to be a part of a guided tour up Desk Mountain. There are a number of excursions that observe totally different trails. 
  • Convey sufficient water, at the least 1l per particular person there aren’t any water sources on the mountain till you attain the highest. The Skeleton Gorge is the one route the place you will get water alongside the way in which.

Is it free to stroll up Desk Mountain?

Sure, mountain climbing Desk Mountain is free. There isn’t any entrance price to Desk Mountain Nationwide Park. Skeleton Gorge is the one path the place you pay the doorway price as a result of the route begins contained in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Backyard. If you wish to use the aerial cable automobile to go up or down you’ll have to purchase tickets.

Campbell at the end of the Maclear's Beacon trail on Table Mountain
Campbell at Maclear’s Beacon on the highest of Desk Mountain

When is the perfect time for mountain climbing?

Within the scorching summer season months (December – February), early morning is the perfect time particularly for those who’re planning to stroll on one of many trails which might be uncovered to the solar resembling Platteklip or India Venster. There are various nice espresso outlets in Cape City situated near Desk Mountain the place you’ll be able to have espresso and breakfast earlier than tackling the climb.

Evenings are a very good time as properly simply make certain to not stroll any of the routes at midnight on your personal security. When you’re planning to make use of the cable automobile test for the wind it generally will get very windy in summer season and it doesn’t function on very windy days.

Our favourite months for mountain climbing on Desk Mountain are November and March, total these are the perfect months to go to Cape City.

In cooler months (April – October) you’ll be able to stroll just about any time simply ensure you received’t get quite a lot of rain. It’s not good to be up Desk Mountain within the pouring rain. Clouds are one other factor to observe for. When you see large clouds on the highest of the mountain postpone your go to you may not have the ability to see something from the highest. 

Hely Hutchinson Reservoir and a sandy beach at the end of the Skeleton gorge hiking trail
Hely-Hutchinson Reservoir and a ravishing seaside on the highest of Desk Mountain on the finish of the Skeleton Gorge hike

get to Desk Mountain?

Renting a automobile is the best manner of shifting round Cape City. When you’re a few folks sharing a smallish automobile it received’t be costly to hire a automobile for a few days. 

Utilizing a hop-on-hop-off bus is an alternative choice for attending to Desk Mountain. There are 4 totally different sightseeing routes together with one which goes to the Decrease Cable Automotive Station (the crimson route) and one which goes to Kirstenbosch Botanical Backyard (the blue route). A 2-day ticket consists of 2 strolling excursions, a seal & harbor boat cruise, and a sundown bus. When you’re planning to go up or down with the cable automobile you should buy a mixed ticket that features the bus, the cable automobile, and a free metropolis strolling tour.

Cape Town and its surrounding from Platteklip Gorge
Cape City from the Platteklip Gorge mountain climbing path up Desk Mountain

Desk Mountain cable automobile

You may stroll up and down or for those who don’t really feel prefer it or don’t have sufficient time you can use the cable automobile a method or return. Don’t fear about skipping the mountain climbing half for those who take the cable automobile there are a few very good trails on the highest of the mountain. No matter which manner you select it’s best to positively embody Desk Mountain in your Cape City itinerary.

The views from the cable automobile are superb, the ground rotates clockwise throughout the experience you get 360° panoramic views of Cape City. The cable automobile operates day by day throughout summer season months (November to March) from 6.30 am (first automobile up) to Four pm (final automobile up)/5 pm (final automobile down). You should buy your tickets on-line.

  • To go a method (up or down) prices ZAR 220/US$12 for adults and ZAR 120/US$6 for youngsters.
  • For a return ticket, you pay ZAR 395/US$22 (morning time); ZAR 340/US$19 (after 1 pm) for adults, and ZAR 195/US$11 (morning time), ZAR 170/US$10 (after 1 pm) for youngsters.
  • When you’re planning to make use of the hop-on-hop-off bus you should buy a mixed ticket that features a return cable automobile experience. It’s the best choice for those who’re not going to hire a automobile. 
A view of the cable car and the coast on the way up Table Mountain following the India Venster route
a View of the Cable Automotive and Lion’s Head from the India Venster mountain climbing path

Prime 5 Desk Mountain mountain climbing trails

Platteklip Gorge path

  • Distance – 5,5 km return
  • Time – 2 hours return
  • Whole elevation achieve/loss – 650 m
  • Start line – Tafelberg Highway, about 1,5 km previous the Decrease Cable Automotive Station in the direction of Satan’s Peak.
  • Ending level (on the highest) – 700 m away from the cable automobile station.
  • Issue – Three out of 5*
  • Terrain – footpath, rocks, and boulders
  • Parking – alongside Tafelberg street (on the left) previous the Decrease Cable Automotive station there’s a parking spot proper initially of the path but it surely’s typically full.

*problem evaluating totally different Desk Mountain mountain climbing trails with the 5 being essentially the most troublesome route up Desk Mountain.

Mountain climbing Desk Mountain Platteklip Gorge with a tour

A route map of the Platteklip Gorge trail up Table Mountain
A map of the hike up Platteklip Gorge to the cable automobile and again


  • Good views of Cape City metropolis middle and its environment.
  • The surroundings on the finish of the path.


  • The steep ascent from the very begin of the path.
  • The primary a part of the route is uncovered to the solar with no shade to cover.
  • The second a part of the path entails a little bit of climbing over the rocks.
  • From the tip of the path on the highest, it’s one other 700 m to the cable automobile station.
Elevation profile of the Platteklip Gorge trail
Elevation profile of the Platteklip Gorge mountain climbing path, the most well-liked route up Desk mountain

Route description

  • The route is fairly easy, there’s a signal initially of the path.
  • A rocky path climbs up the mountain from the beginning.
  • A zigzagging footpath part within the center.
  • A steeper and a bit harder climb within the second a part of the hike.
At the end of the Platteklip Gorge hiking trail
On the highest of Platteklip Gorge, the most well-liked mountain climbing route up Desk Mountain

When you’re planning on doing mountain climbing or different journey actions in Cape City it’s advisable to have journey insurance coverage that can cowl you in case one thing goes unsuitable. Some mountain climbing routes up Desk Mountain are fairly strenuous and may be harmful, particularly in dangerous climate circumstances. Make sure that to have applicable journey insurance coverage at the least for the times you’re planning on doing outside actions. We are able to advocate utilizing World Nomads insurance coverage firm, They focus on overlaying journey actions like mountain climbing and diving. Their insurance coverage coverage may be very versatile it will possibly cowl the complete journey or solely a particular day. It takes a few minutes to purchase it on-line at any time throughout your journey. Get an immediate quote proper now!

India Venster path

  • Distance – 4,Three km to Higher Cable Automotive station, a method
  • Time – 2-Three hours from the begin to the cable automobile, a method
  • Whole elevation achieve – 722 m
  • Start line – Decrease Cable Automotive Station
  • Ending level (on the highest) – 700 m away from the Higher Cable Automotive station.
  • Issue – 5 out of 5, it’s essentially the most difficult and harmful route up Desk Mountain, not appropriate for youngsters or aged folks.
  • Terrain – rocks, boulders, occasional chains and ladders, footpath on the very finish of the path.
  • Parking – alongside Tafelberg Highway earlier than or after Lowe Cable Automotive station.

Mountain climbing Desk Mountain India Venster with a tour

India Venster trail map
A map of the India Venster mountain climbing path to the highest of Desk Mountain


  • This route has the perfect views of Cape City, Lion’s Head, Camps Bay, and plenty of different metropolis sights. 
  • A few superb look-out factors
  • Weird rock formations and cliffs
  • A good looking path alongside the cliff on the finish of the hike


  • A steep and lengthy ascent.
  • The path is uncovered to the solar for essentially the most a part of the day there isn’t any shade to cover.
  • Many very steep climbs over rocks utilizing ladders and chains.
  • Some elements of the route are fairly near the sting; generally it’s a bit scary if you need to climb up.
India Venster climb elevation profile
Elevation profile of the climb to Desk Mountain on the India Venster path*

*all path information together with elevation profiles and maps for the submit we acquired from our Garmin Fenix GPS watch. We love utilizing our watches for mountain climbing and coaching.

Route description

  • The route begins with a gradual footpath that takes you from the Decrease Cable Automotive station to the Counter path, the best half.
  • There you’ll see an indication indicating the India Venster path and the primary yellow footprints (behind the signal). 
  • From there the path begins climbing up over the rocks and boulders however nothing hectic but only a steep ascent. 
  • Someplace within the center once you attain the rocky partitions of Desk Mountain you begin scrambling over rocks and ladders. 
  • The final half across the mountain is fairly enjoyable on a footpath with one final climb.
  • From the tip of the path, it’s one other 700 m on the highest of Desk Mountain to the higher cable automobile station.
Alya on the cliff on the way up Table Mountain
Alya is on the sting of the cliff someplace on the India Venster path midway up Desk Mountain

When you’re searching for extra locations to hike in Cape City take a look at Cape Level mountain climbing trails – breathtaking surroundings and unbelievable mountain climbing experience.

Skeleton Gorge path

  • Distance – 7 km return 
  • Time – 2,5-3,5 hours up and down, relying on how briskly you stroll
  • Whole elevation achieve/loss – 600 m
  • Start line – Kirstenbosch Botanical Backyard
  • Ending level (on the highest) – 100 m away from Hely Hutchinson Reservoir.
  • Issue – Three out of 5
  • Terrain – footpath, stairs, rocks, and boulders (some fairly slippery), wood ladders.
  • Parking – there are two fairly large parking areas inside Kirstenbosch Backyard.
A map of the Skeleton Gorge hiking trail to Table Mountain
A map of our route up Desk Mountain on the Skeleton Gorge path. On the way in which down we took a distinct route on the finish


  • Stunning Kirstenbosch Backyard; the sky bridge is to not miss right here.
  • Beautiful lush inexperienced forest.
  • Breathtaking views over Cape City and False Bay.
  • White-sand seaside and a dam with chilly water.


  • An extended and fairly steep ascent from the beginning.
  • A few wood ladders to beat.
  • A slippery rocky path that may be a bit tough for strolling down.
Skeleton Gorge hiking trail elevation profile
Elevation profile of the Skeleton Gorge mountain climbing path up and down Desk Mountain

Route description

  • The path begins contained in the backyard and there are a number of indicators at totally different elements of Kirstenbosch indicating the way in which to Skeleton Gorge. 
  • The ascent begins from the start first you go up wood stairs, then on a footpath with occasional rocky steps. 
  • The second half of the path is extra tough and entails climbing over rocks and wood ladders. 
  • The final bit is on a footpath with stairs. 
Wooden ladders are a part of the Table Mountain hiking trail from Kirstenbosch
Lengthy wood ladders within the lush inexperienced forest on the Skeleton Gorge path up Desk Mountain

Diagonal/Kasteelspoort path

  • Distance – 11,5 km loop together with distance to the diving board and again to the path.
  • Time – 3h30min. loop
  • Whole elevation achieve/loss – 680 m
  • Start line – Kloof Nek parking on the turn-off to Tafelberg Highway
  • Ending level (on the highest) – 200 m away from the Diving board
  • Issue – Three out of 5
  • Terrain – rocky/gravel footpath, rocks, and boulders, rocky stairs
  • Parking – Kloof Nek parking if there isn’t any house search for a spot alongside Tafelberg Highway.

Mountain climbing Desk Mountain Kasteelspoort with a tour

A route map of the Diagonal/Kasteelspoort hiking trail up Table Mountain
A map of our loop route up Desk Mountain; Pipe monitor – Diagonal path (up) – Kasteelspoort path (down) – Pipe monitor.


  • Beautiful views of Camps Bay and Lion’s Head from a lookout level on the Diagonal route.
  • Stunning panorama and bizarre-shaped rocks on the highest of Desk Mountain.
  • The diving board is a small rocky cliff hanging above the abbey that in form reminds a diving board. It’s an incredible photograph spot not for the faint-hearted.


  • A steep climb over rocks and boulders on the Diagonal path.
  • A steep descent all the way down to the Pipe Monitor from the highest.
Elevation profile of the Kasteelspoort hiking trail
Elevation profile of the Diagonal/Kasteelspoort path up Desk Mountain

Route description

  • It’s a loop path. The route begins throughout the street from Kloof Nek parking. 
  • The primary half is on the Pipe monitor, a very simple and flat stroll across the mountain with good views over Camps Bay and Lion’s Head. 
  • At 2,7 km there’s the primary break up, the left path (Diagonal) climbs up the mountain, and the left continues on the Pipe monitor. 
  • The subsequent break up is at 4,5 km, the left route is the Diagonal path, and the suitable route is the Kasteelspoort path. 
  • When you proceed on the Diagonal path you’ll attain the highest at about 5 km. 
  • From there proceed straight for about 400 m till you see the signal pointing to the Kasteelspoort path. Quickly after that, you’ll see one other break up the route on the suitable goes down the Kasteelspoort path. 
  • You can begin taking place however earlier than trying out the Diving board, it’s about 400 m forward on the Outdated Cable Automotive station. 
  • The way in which down is sort of straightforward; you simply observe the Kasteelspoort path all the way in which to the Pipe monitor and from there proceed strolling again to Kloof Nek parking.
Stingy Nomads on the cliff called the diving board on Table Mountain
Campbell and Alya on the Diving board on the highest of Desk Mountain. One of the crucial photographed spots!

Maclear’s Beacon path

  • Distance – 5,Four km return
  • Time – 1h30min. – 2 hours, return
  • Whole elevation achieve/loss – 150 m
  • Beginning/ending level – Higher Cable Automotive Station in the direction of Platteklip Gorge
  • Issue – 1 out of 5
  • Terrain – footpath, boardwalks, boulders
  • Parking – alongside Tafelberg Highway close to Decrease Cable Automotive Station


  • Beautiful views of Cape Level, Hout Bay, Muizenberg, Strand, Gordons Bay, and many others.
  • Weird rock formations alongside the route.
  • The gorgeous panorama on the highest of Desk Mountain


  • The one problem is the warmth, it will get extraordinarily scorching in summer season and there’s no shade
Maclear's Beacon trail elevation profile
Elevation profile of the Maclear’s Beacon path. As you’ll be able to see it’s a really flat and straightforward route

It’s a simple stroll appropriate for vacationers with youngsters and aged folks. The route begins at Skeleton Gorge, about 700 m from Higher Desk Automotive Station. There’s a metallic plank indicating the way in which to Maclear’s Beacon. The path is marked with yellow footprints and arrows, it’s straightforward to observe.

The route is flat with hardly any ascent or descent. It’s an important hike for many who don’t need to endure one of many difficult routes up Desk Mountain however nonetheless need to discover its prime and do a simple hike. The views of the way in which and from the beacon are fairly spectacular. You get to see the surroundings on the opposite aspect of Desk Mountain that isn’t seen from the cable automobile. 

Landscape on the top of Table Mountain on the way to Maclear's Beacon
Stunning surroundings on the Maclear’s Beacon path

Higher Cable Automotive Station to Skeleton Gorge

  • Distance – 4,eight km
  • Time – 1h20min. – 2 hours
  • Whole elevation achieve – 66 m
  • Whole elevation loss – 395 m
  • Start line – Higher Cable Automotive station
  • Ending level – the highest of Skeleton Gorge close to Hely Hutchinson Reservoir
  • Issue – 1,5 out of 5
  • Terrain – boulders, boardwalks
Elevation profile of the trail from Platteklip to Skeleton Gorge
Elevation profile of the mountain climbing path from the Higher Cable Automotive station to Skeleton Gorge

This route is an extension of Maclear’s Beacon path. The beacon is about midway. It’s a pleasant route that provides very totally different from the cable automobile aspect views. The panorama alongside the path is sort of superb with wired rock formations, slender passages between two rocks, and many others. Proper after Maclear’s Beacon, it’s a regular downhill all the way in which to Skeleton Gorge.

Nothing very steep or scary I’d say the route is appropriate for anyone. You don’t need to go all the way in which to the gorge you’ll be able to simply stroll somewhat bit and switch round. The stroll to Skeleton Gorge and again to the cable automobile is about 10 km. The stroll again is harder for extra particulars learn the outline beneath.

A wooden path on the top of Table Mountain
Superb surroundings on the Platteklip – Skeleton Gorge path

There are free guided walks on the highest of Desk Mountain that anyone can be a part of. The assembly level is close to the exit from the espresso store. Excursions depart day by day each hour from 9am to 3pm. These are usually not lengthy hikes totally on boardwalks close to the cable automobile station. Through the stroll, you be taught attention-grabbing information about Desk Mountain and uncover the perfect photograph spots on the highest.

The floor of Desk Mountain is an enormous space with a few water reservoirs, in a single day huts, a number of mountain climbing trails, and monuments. One can spend hours if not days strolling and exploring it. In a manner mountain climbing on the highest of Desk Mountain jogs my memory of the Mount Roraima hike in Venezuela.

Free guided walks on Table Mountain meeting point sign
The assembly level of free guided walks on the highest of Desk Mountain

What to pack for mountain climbing on Desk Mountain?

Locations to remain

Please observe and like us:

Source link

Hey! A bit about us - we’re John & Maria and we're a couple that loves to travel the world and document our adventures! We enjoy writing, blogging, exploring and sharing our adventures. We’re always embarking on new journeys and here you’ll find articles covering many travel destinations, and topics, such as culture, history, art and cuisine. Our goal and mission is to present compelling stories, photography and personal opinions, as well as serve as an online resource for anyone who wishes to plan their own trips and visit the destinations we've been to. We genuinely love meeting new people, mingling with locals, listening to their amazing stories and trying new travel experiences.

Write A Comment

Pin It