Table Mountain, located in Cape Town, South Africa, is a popular hiking destination known for its stunning views and diverse hiking trails. One of the most popular trails to the summit is Platteklip Gorge, a challenging yet rewarding ascent that offers hikers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
In this article, I will provide you with a comprehensive guide to hiking Platteklip Gorge.
Let’s go hiking!
Overview of Platteklip Gorge
Platteklip Gorge is a steep and rugged trail that ascends the eastern side of Table Mountain. The trailhead is located on Tafelberg Road, just a short distance from the city center. The trail is approximately 3.5 kilometers long and takes an average of two to three hours to complete.
Hikers should be prepared for a strenuous hike that requires a moderate level of fitness.
Platteklip Gorge was first used as a route to the summit in the early 1800s. It was later developed and maintained by the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway Company in the early 1900s.
Today, Platteklip Gorge is a popular hiking trail that attracts thousands of visitors each year.
Preparing for the Hike
Fitness level required
Hiking up Platteklip Gorge requires a moderate to high level of fitness, depending on your hiking experience. The trail is steep and strenuous, with a total elevation gain of 700 meters over 3 kilometers.
It is important to be in good physical shape and to have experience hiking on similar terrain before attempting the Platteklip Gorge trail.
What to wear
When preparing for the hike, it is important to dress appropriately for the weather conditions. Wear comfortable, breathable clothing that allows for a full range of motion. Avoid wearing cotton, as it absorbs sweat and can leave you feeling wet and uncomfortable.
Wear sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support and a good grip. It is also recommended to wear a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun.
Equipment and gear needed
Hiking up Platteklip Gorge requires minimal equipment and gear. It is recommended to bring a backpack to carry water, snacks, sunscreen, and any additional clothing or gear you may need. Hiking poles can be helpful, especially on the descent.
A first aid kit and a whistle can also be useful in case of an emergency.
Choosing the right time to hike
The best time to hike up Platteklip Gorge is during the cooler months from March to November when the temperatures are more moderate. It is not recommended to hike during the hot summer months of December to February, as the temperatures can soar, and there is little shade on the trail.
It is also important to check the weather forecast and to avoid hiking on days with strong winds or thunderstorms.
Getting to Platteklip Gorge
Directions to the trailhead
The Platteklip Gorge trailhead is located on Tafelberg Road, which can be accessed by car or taxi. If driving, take the Cableway Road turnoff from Kloof Nek Road, and follow the signs to the Cableway.
Continue past the Cableway and park in the designated parking area at the start of Tafelberg Road. From there, it is a short walk to the Platteklip Gorge trailhead.
If you don’t have access to a car, there are several transportation options available to get to Platteklip Gorge. The MyCiTi bus service runs from the Cape Town city center to the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway, which is a short walk from the trailhead.
Taxis and Uber are also available and can be arranged through your accommodation or by calling a local taxi company.
The Platteklip Gorge trail is the most direct and popular route to the summit of Table Mountain. The trail is well-maintained and clearly marked, with rock steps and chains to assist hikers on the steeper sections.
The trail starts at the Platteklip Gorge trailhead and follows a steep ascent up the gorge, with panoramic views of Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean.
The Platteklip Gorge trail is a challenging hike with a steep and strenuous ascent. The trail is rated as moderate to difficult and requires a good level of fitness and hiking experience.
The steep terrain and lack of shade can make the hike even more challenging, especially during the hot summer months.
It is important to follow some basic safety tips when hiking up Platteklip Gorge. Always hike with a partner or a group and inform someone of your planned route and expected return time.
Bring enough water and snacks to keep you hydrated and energized throughout the hike. Wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun, and carry a fully charged cell phone in case of an emergency.
Aside from Platteklip Gorge, there are several alternative routes that hikers can take to reach the summit of Table Mountain. These routes may offer a different experience and different challenges compared to Platteklip Gorge.
One popular alternative route is the India Venster trail, which offers stunning views of the city and the Atlantic Ocean. However, this trail is considered more challenging than Platteklip Gorge and requires a higher level of fitness and hiking experience.
Another option is the Skeleton Gorge trail, which begins in the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and features a scenic forest and waterfall. This trail also requires a good level of fitness and some scrambling.
When choosing an alternative route, it is important to consider the level of difficulty and your own personal fitness and experience. It is also recommended to hike with a knowledgeable guide or experienced hiking partner.
After the Hike
After completing a challenging hike, it’s important to take some time to relax and recover. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for food and relaxation near Platteklip Gorge.
There are several restaurants and cafes located at the base of Table Mountain, including the Table Mountain Cafe, which offers a range of snacks and light meals.
For a more substantial meal, hikers can head to the nearby Kloof Street or Long Street, which offer a range of dining options.
For relaxation, hikers can head to the nearby beaches of Camps Bay or Clifton, or explore the local shops and markets. The Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens are also located nearby and offer a peaceful and beautiful escape.
Hiking is a great way to connect with nature, but it’s important to do so responsibly. When hiking Platteklip Gorge or any other trail, hikers should follow the Leave No Trace principles. These principles are designed to minimize the environmental impact of outdoor activities.
Some tips for hiking responsibly include staying on the designated trail, packing out all trash, and avoiding disturbing wildlife. Hikers should also be mindful of the potential impact of their actions on the local environment.
In addition, hikers can take steps to protect the environment by reducing their carbon footprint. One way to do this is by choosing eco-friendly transportation options, such as public transportation or carpooling.
Leave No Trace principles
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Dispose of waste properly
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impact
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions that hikers may have about Platteklip Gorge:
Q: Is Platteklip Gorge suitable for beginners?
A: While Platteklip Gorge is considered one of the easier trails to the summit, it still requires a good level of fitness and stamina. Beginners should take caution and ensure they are adequately prepared for the hike.
Q: Is it safe to hike Platteklip Gorge?
A: Platteklip Gorge is generally considered safe, but hikers should take caution and be aware of their surroundings. It is recommended to hike in groups and to stay on the designated trail.
Q: What is the best time to hike Platteklip Gorge?
A: The best time to hike Platteklip Gorge is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, when the temperatures are cooler. It is also recommended to avoid hiking during the hottest parts of the day and during high winds or rain.
Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks for hikers planning to tackle Platteklip Gorge:
- Wear comfortable and sturdy hiking shoes with good grip
- Bring plenty of water and snacks to keep hydrated and energized
- Take frequent breaks and pace yourself to avoid exhaustion
- Use sunscreen and wear a hat to protect yourself from the sun
- Carry a fully charged phone and a first aid kit in case of emergencies
Platteklip Gorge is a challenging but rewarding hike that offers stunning views of Table Mountain and the surrounding area. With a little preparation and the right gear, hikers of all fitness levels can enjoy this iconic South African trail.
From the history and significance of the trail to the best time to hike and tips for minimizing environmental impact, this comprehensive guide has covered everything you need to know to make the most of your Platteklip Gorge experience.
Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or just starting out, Platteklip Gorge is a must-see destination for anyone visiting Table Mountain National Park. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and get ready for an adventure you’ll never forget!