Cape Town's iconic Table Mountain

When speaking about South Africa and Cape Town there is one natural feature that everybody knows of: Table Mountain. It is the integral part of the mother city's backdrop and a stunning geological formation. In 2011 is was voted one of the New7Wonders of Nature.

Capetown's Table Mountain seen from Lion's head a dusk
Hiking down Lion's Head during dusk offers spectacular views of Table Mountain and Kloff Nek Road

Being on a flat-topped mountain

Table Mountain or Tafelberg in Afrikaans is probably the most iconic mountain in South Africa. It is a flat-topped formation and a prominent landmark overlooking the city of Capetown. It is the mother city's major tourist attraction that you can easily enjoy by cableway or hike to the top if you want a bit more action. Is is easiest to go up via Platteklip Gorge. On top of Table Mountain is the eponymous Table Mountain National Park with its diverse flora and fauna. Enjoy the views and pictures of fynbos and Dassies below.

The flat top of the mountain is often covered by orographic clouds, formed  by the south-easterly winds. When these winds hit the mountain from False Bay they cool down in the heights and the moisture condenses to form the so-called "table cloth" of clouds. Sometimes the table cloth really falls down quickly. Watching such a scene might look seeing a time-lapse because the clouds fall so quickly. In geological terms Table Mountain is the northern end of a sandstone mountain range that forms the spine of the Cape Peninsula. If you want to learn more about what this mountain is made of check this article.

Table Mountain and 12 Apostels seen from Lion's Head
A nice vantage point hiking up Lion's Head towards Table Mountain and 12 Apostels

Hiking Maclear's Beacon

After arriving on top of Table Mountain either via Platteklip Gorge or cable car, Maclear's Beacon is a nice hike to do. It follows the front line of the mountain towards the city bowl and offers spectacular views. It will finally lead you towards the highest point of Table Mountain (1088 m) that Sir Thomas Maclear marked in 1865. I am quite sure that the area around the beacon also offers nice views, but we experienced what it is like to be in the Table Mountain cloth this time. The pictures below are all from the same day in March 2020. It started off really nice and sunny and got more cloudy and really cold towards the beacon. We still enjoyed the hike and especially the big King Protea along the way that you can see below.

Cape Town's silhouette

Looking towards Table Mountain from Robben Island or a boat the flat top is framed by Devil's Peak to the east and by Lion's Head to the west, forming the iconic backdrop of the city. Capetown and its steep mountains are shaped like a natural amphitheatre that opens towards Table Bay harbour. Having a mountain that stands over 1000 meters above sea level is quite a bit given that big parts of Cape Town are at sea level.

Table Mountain, Capetown city bowl and Signal Hill seen from Lion's Head during dusk
Table Mountain overlooking the city bowl of Capetown after sunset


Table Mountain is an absolute must for every visitor to Cape Town. I would love to hear about your favorite Table Mountain experience. Share it in the comments below!


Make sure to also check my Lion's Head blogpost, another of the Cape Town 'musts'. And if you enjoy this content you could also visit my South Africa gallery.

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