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Platteklip Gorge hike on Table Mountain

Platteklip Gorge hike is a scenic route to the top of Table Mountain. It’s one of the most popular hiking trails in Cape Town. The route offers breathtaking views of the city and its surroundings. It can be walked up and down or combined with the cable car. Visiting Table Mountain is one of the not-to-miss things to do in Cape Town.

The view from the top of Platteklip Gorrge
The top of Platteklip Gorge, Table Mountain

Platteklip Gorge route overview

  • Distance – 2,5 km from Tafelberg Road to the Upper Cableway station, 5 km return
  • Required time – 2-3 hours return
  • Total ascent – 650 m
  • Total descent – 650 m
  • Starting point – Tafelberg Road, 1,5 km from the Lower Cableway Station
  • Finishing point – the top of Table Mountain, 700 m from the Upper Cableway Station
  • Difficulty – 3 out of 5
  • Terrain – footpath, rocky stairs
  • Lowest point – 289 m
  • Highest point – 1030 m
Spectacular view of Cape Town from the slopes of Table Mountain
Cape Town and its surroundings from Table Mountain

Platteklip Gorge tours

Platteklip Gorge hike distance

The Platteklip Gorge hike is 2 km (from Tafelberg Road to the top of Table Mountain). Add to this 700 m on the top from the end of the trail to the Upper Cableway Station. If you walk up and down the gorge it’ll be about 5 km.

If you’re looking for a shorter and easier route with spectacular views in Cape Town the Lion’s Head hike is a perfect trail.

A view from the top of Table Mountain near the cable car station
Breathtaking views from the top of Table Mountain

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How long does it take to walk up Table Mountain?

The ascent takes between 1 and 1,5 hours depending on your fitness level. The descent is between 30 and 45 minutes. If you walk up and down the Platteklip Gorge it’ll take you between 1h30 min. and 2h15min. Add to that time 30 minutes – 1 hour on the top of Table Mountain.

How difficult is the Platteklip Gorge hike?

The Platteklip Gorge hike is probably one of the easiest Table Mountain hiking trails. It’s definitely much easier than the India Venster hike. And a little bit easier than the Skeleton Gorge and the Diagonal trail. I would compare it to the Kasteelspoort Trail. Platteklip Gorge is still a tough 700-meters ascent to the top but it doesn’t involve any scrambling, bouldering, ladders, or ropes. Any relatively fit person will be able to walk it. We used to walk it up and down a couple of times once or twice a week for training.

Elevation profile Platteklip Gorge hike
Elevation profile of the Platteklip Gorge hike

How high is Platteklip Gorge?

The total ascent on the Platteklip Gorge from Tafelberg Road to the top of Table Mountain is 650 m. The top of the gorge is 1030 m above sea level.

Platteklip Gorge hike starting point 

The trail starts on Tafelberg Road, 1,5 km past the Lower Cableway Station towards Devil’s Peak.

Where does the route end?

The Platteklip Gorge trail ends on the top of Table Mountain, around 700 km from the Upper Cableway station and 2 km from Maclear’s Beacon. Instead of walking down you can take the cable car.

Spectacular views of Cape Town from the cable car
Views from the cable car on the way down

How to get to the trailhead?

The starting point of the trail is 6 km from the center of Cape Town and 9 km from V&A Waterfront. Driving is the best way of getting around Cape Town. You can rent a car at the airport on arrival and drop it off on departure as we did on our last visit to South Africa. It was quick and easy.

If you don’t have a car you can get to the trailhead using Cape Town hop-on-hop-off bus. It stops at the Lower Cableway station which is 700 m away from Platteklip Gorge. Using Uber is easy in Cape Town especially to get around within the city.

Where to park at Platteklip Gorge?

There is no designated parking lot close by. The nearest one is the Kloof Nek parking lot, on the foot of Table Mountain, 3 km away from Platteklip Gorge. You can park your car along Tafelberg Road between the Lower Cableway station and Platteklip Gorge. There are usually open spots. 

A rocky path on the top of Table Mountain
A hiking trail to Maclear’s Beacon on the top of Table Mountain near Platteklip Gorge

What is on the top of Table Mountain?

The top of Table Mountain is a vast area with water reservoirs, rock formations, walking trails, and lookout points. One can spend hours if not days exploring the area. At the Upper Cableway station, you can find a shop, a restaurant, and toilets. If you want to continue hiking on the top you can walk to Maclear’s Beacon which is 2 km away. to Hely Hutchinson Reservoir, 6 km away, or all the way to the Diving Board, 7,5 km away following the Aqueduct Trail.

What is the scenery like on the hike?

The scenery on the hike is spectacular. Walking up the Platteklip Gorge you can see the City Bowl, V&A Waterfront, Lion’s Head, Blouberg Beach, Robben Island, and many other of Cape Town’s top attractions.

Plattelkip Gorge map

Platteklip Gorge hiking map
Platteklip Gorge trail map

Platteklip Gorge route description

From the beginning to the end, the trail is pure ascent. The first half is a steep ascent on a footpath, the second half is even steeper over rocks and boulders. The first half of the trail is exposed to the sun. Overall the ascent is tough but manageable. As for the descent, it’s much quicker than going up but it’s quite tough on your knees. The stone stairs are high you basically jump or climb down all the time. If you have any knee issues I would suggest taking the cable car down. 

Our friend doing the Platteklip Gorge hike
Our friend Marista hiking up Platteklip Gorge

When is the best time for hiking?

The dry season between October and April is the best time for hiking on Table Mountain. For hiking in the peak summer months (December to February), it’s highly recommended to start early in the morning to finish the ascent before it gets too hot. For hiking the Plattekilp Gorge during the winter months it’s recommended to check the weather forecast to make sure you won’t get rain. The trail gets slippery when wet which can lead to injuries on the way down. If you’re planning to take the cable car down confirm on the official website that it’s running. Sometimes it’s suspended due to strong winds. 

Do I need a guide for Platteklip Gorge?

You can hike without a guide. The trail is easy to follow, you don’t need GPS or any other navigation. Though if you’re a solo hiker it might be a good idea to join a tour.

A narrow ravine at the end of Platteklip Gorge
A view of the top of Platteklip Gorge from the trail

Safety tips for hiking on Table Mountain

We’ve hiked on Table Mountain countless times including many ascents and descents on the Platteklip Gorge and never had any issues but people do get mugged while hiking. Here are some safety tips that will help you to stay safe.

  • Don’t hike alone.
  • Don’t hike late in the evening.
  • Weekends and public holidays are the best time for hiking the Platteklip Gorge when there are many other people on the mountain.
  • Stay on the trail and respect the signs.
  • Always have a working phone that you can call for help in case of an emergency.
  • Carry enough water, especially in the hot summer months. There are no water sources on the trail.

What to pack for the hike?

  • Comfortable shoes
  • Headwear
  • Small backpack
  • Water bottle
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
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Sunday 21st of April 2024

The guide for the person reading this who does not regularly hike:

I will say, don't trust hiking blogs if you're not an avid hiker! I'm not super fit, but I can normally manage pretty well and exercise regularly. Unfortunately if you don't regularly run marathons or something, a 1.5 hour estimate feels like a cruel joke!

We went up, and it took 5 and a half hours. In the last third, we decided to go down by cable car instead of hiking down, but it was already nearing 6pm and we were scared of missing the last car down. Thankfully they go for a bit after 6 if there's still people up on the top. My knees were destroyed and I cried at least once (mostly because I thought we'd miss the cable car and have to hike back down).

Bad times aside, I still consider it a fantastic experience. The views are incredible and the air up there is so clean and silent. The unique flora and fauna are a treat for the city-bored eyes and we came across many lovely people along the way. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though at some points I hated myself for choosing to do this hike. I still highly recommend it and am not discouraged from trying the other Table Mountain trails in the future.

The issues we faced can easily be avoided by:

Going in the morning - we went at 12:30 thinking it'd take at most two hours up and two down. Definitely don't do that - go early just in case, and take your time.

Plenty of breaks - pack some picnic foods and break regularly, enjoy yourself. We took about 3 short picnic breaks along the way, but I'd say do more than that. There are plenty of good rocks to sit on along the way.

Check the weather forecast! We got lucky, but it started raining just as we made it down on the cable car. We could have been stuck up there in the rain!

If you have hiking walking sticks, bring them along. The rock stairs can be pretty big and you'll often need additional support if you're not super tall. I ended up running up many sections on my hands and knees (we called it monkey mode).

Besides that, your standard hiking tips apply - good footwear, lots of water, sunscreen, a jersey in case it gets cold, etc. I encourage you, reader, to still do it. Don't let me discourage you from trying. I definitely suggest only going up one way at first, but you can always see how you feel. Go with good company and enjoy yourself!

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