Scenes of mountains dipping into the sparkling oceans meet you at the Table Mountain National Park, situated in the Western Cape Province of South Africa, a World heritage site and one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. It is no wonder the Khoisan named the mountain Hoerikwaggo – which means mountain in the sea.
This mostly open-access park comprises of much more than just the famous mountain and the sea. It falls within the fynbos biome, which makes it extremely diverse plant wise. The Cape Floral Kingdom is a World Heritage Site and fynbos (meaning fine bush) always has something in flower, no matter the time of the year.
The area is therefor a wonderful option for outdoor lovers and many of the park’s hiking trails can be accessed without paying anything. Access to the Cape of Good Hope and the Boulders Penguin Colony in Simonstown requires an entry fee. At Boulders, wooden walkways allow you to get closer to the penguins.
The Cape of Good Hope offers plenty to keep the family busy. Take the Flying Dutchman funicular to the top of Cape Point and the lighthouses, or take a walk instead. The walk is uphill so moderate fitness levels are required.
The park offers plenty of accommodation options, ranging from tents with single beds to more luxurious options. Some options are isolated and offer tranquility away from the crowds, while others are much closer to civilisation and the hustle and bustle of city life.
The nearest airport to the park is the Cape Town International Airport. Car hire options are also available.
Essential items include a sun hat and sun block, plenty of water, sturdy hiking shoes, snacks, a wind breaker or wet weather gear. If you stay overnight, pack a torch as outdoor light is generally limited. Always keep emergency numbers on hand.
Walking to the top of Table Mountain is not the proverbial walk in the park. The mountain rises 1000m above sea level so hiking to the top of the mountain can be strenuous, especially combined with inconsistent weather. The park is also situated within an urban setting, so present unique challenges. Always be wary of your surroundings.
The more time, the better of course, especially as it requires travel to access the different areas of the park. The Cape of Good Hope section requires at least a day if you want to see a good chunk of it. It will be okay to set aside an hour or two for a spot like the Boulders Penguin Colony for example. When hiking, always make sure you have plenty of time so you can do it at a leisurely pace and enjoy the scenery and surroundings instead of rushing.
Table Mountain National Parks is not your destination of choice when it comes to spotting the Big Five, but there is still plenty of wildlife to see. The park is home to small antelope like klipspringer, grysbok, common duiker, grey rhebok and steenbok, and larger antelope such as eland, red hartebeest and bontebok. Other wildlife include Cape mountain zebra, ostrich and chacma baboons . Smaller wildlife not often seen include the Cape clawless otter, small grey mongoose, porcupine, caracal and Cape fox.
Summer for the beaches, but the scenery can be enjoyed throughout the year. The area has a Mediterranean climate, so expect hot, dry summers and short, wet, yet mild winters. Weather changes very quickly, so be prepared for anything.
The park is great for outdoor activities such as hiking, surfing, angling, picnicking, sunbathing, swimming, penguin spotting and cycling.
Please see below for accommodation inside and near to Table Mountain National Park