Desk Mountain climbing trails – 6 superb routes

Desk Mountain is Cape City’s most well-known attraction and a must-visit place in Cape City. Mountain climbing on Desk Mountain is an effective way to see the town and its environment. The views from the highest are actually spectacular. The best and quickest means of attending to the highest is to take a cable automotive. Strolling up following one of many Desk Mountain climbing trails is a much more difficult however rather more rewarding expertise. There are a number of routes going up in addition to a few lovely hikes on the highest of the mountain. Mountain climbing Desk Mountain is among the most thrilling issues to do in Cape City.

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

Desk Mountain climbing excursions

How lengthy is the Desk Mountain hike in Cape City?

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

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Is Desk Mountain in Cape City 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 tough because the ascent contemplating the rocky terrain and steepness of the paths.

Is it secure to hike alone?

  • For those who comply with one of many in style routes or hike on the highest of Desk Mountain you ought to be fairly secure.
  • Don’t hike at evening time or late within the night in winter.
  • For those who select a lesser-used route, somewhat go on the weekend when there are extra individuals.
  • It’s higher to be a few individuals on the route particularly in case you hike on weekdays or low season.
  • For those who don’t need to hike alone you’ll be able to be part of a guided tour up Desk Mountain. There are a number of excursions that comply with totally different trails. 
  • Convey sufficient water, not less than 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 may get water alongside the way in which.

Is it free to hike Desk Mountain, Cape City?

Sure, climbing Desk Mountain in Cape City is free. There isn’t a 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 automotive 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 one of the best time for climbing Desk Mountain?

Within the scorching summer season months (December – February), early morning is one of the best time particularly in case you’re planning to stroll on one of many trails which can be uncovered to the solar corresponding to Platteklip or India Venster. There are various nice espresso retailers in Cape City situated near Desk Mountain the place you’ll be able to have espresso and breakfast earlier than climbing.

Evenings are an excellent time as effectively simply be sure that to not stroll any of the routes in the dead of night in your personal security. For those who’re planning to make use of the cable automotive examine 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 climbing on Desk Mountain are November and March, general these are one of the best 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 numerous rain. It’s not good to be up Desk Mountain within the pouring rain. Clouds are one other factor to look at for. For those who see huge clouds on the highest of the mountain postpone your go to you may not be capable 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

How you can get to Desk Mountain climbing trails?

Renting a automotive is the best means of shifting round Cape City. For those who’re a few individuals sharing a smallish automotive it received’t be costly to lease a automotive 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 purple 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. For those who’re planning to go up or down with the cable automotive you’ll be able to purchase a mixed ticket that features the bus, the cable automotive, and a free metropolis strolling tour.

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

Cable automotive on Desk Mountain

You may stroll up and down or in case you don’t really feel prefer it or don’t have sufficient time you can use the cable automotive a technique or return. Don’t fear about skipping the climbing half in case you take the cable automotive there are a few very good trails on the highest of the mountain. No matter which means you select, it is best to positively embrace Desk Mountain in your Cape City itinerary.

The views from the cable automotive are superb, the ground rotates clockwise throughout the trip you get 360° panoramic views of Cape City. The cable automotive operates every day. Working hours change relying on the month. You may examine the up-to-date timetable and purchase your tickets right here.

  • To go a technique (up or down) prices ZAR 240/US$12 for adults and ZAR 130/US$7 for youngsters.
  • For a return ticket, you pay ZAR 420/US$22 (morning time); ZAR 360/US$19 (after 1 pm) for adults, and ZAR 210/US$11 (morning time), ZAR 180/US$10 (after 1 pm) for youngsters.
  • For those who’re planning to make use of the hop-on-hop-off bus you’ll be able to purchase a mixed ticket that features a return cable automotive trip. It’s the best choice in case you’re not going to lease a automotive. 
A view of the cable car and the coast on the way up Table Mountain following the India Venster route
Cable Automotive and Lion’s Head from the India Venster route – probably the most difficult Desk Mountain climbing path

High 6 Desk Mountain climbing trails

Platteklip Gorge path

  • Distance – 5,5 km return
  • Time – 2 hours return
  • Complete elevation acquire/loss – 650 m
  • Place to begin – 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 automotive station.
  • Problem – 3 out of 5*
  • Terrain – footpath, rocks, and boulders
  • Parking – alongside Tafelberg Highway (on the left) previous the Decrease Cable Automotive station there’s a parking spot proper at first of the path nevertheless it’s typically full.

*issue evaluating totally different Desk Mountain climbing trails with the 5 being probably the most tough route up Desk Mountain.

For extra info learn our detailed information on the Platteklip Gorge hike.

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 automotive and again


  • Good views of Cape City metropolis heart 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 top of the path on the highest, it’s one other 700 m to the cable automotive station.
Elevation profile of the Platteklip Gorge trail
Elevation profile of the Platteklip Gorge climbing path, the preferred route up Desk mountain

Route description

  • The Platteklip Gorge hike is fairly simple, there’s a signal at first 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 preferred climbing route up Desk Mountain

India Venster path

  • Distance – 4,3 km to Higher Cable Automotive station, a technique
  • Time – 2-3 hours from the begin to the cable automotive, a technique
  • Complete elevation acquire – 722 m
  • Place to begin – Decrease Cable Automotive Station
  • Ending level (on the highest) – 700 m away from the Higher Cable Automotive station.
  • Problem – 5 out of 5, it’s probably the most difficult and harmful route up Desk Mountain, not appropriate for youngsters or aged individuals.
  • 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.

For extra info learn our India Venster climbing information.

India Venster GPX file

Mountain climbing Desk Mountain India Venster with a tour

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


  • The India Venster hike has one of the best views of Cape City, Lion’s Head, Camps Bay, and plenty of different metropolis points of interest. 
  • 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 probably 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 components of the route are fairly near the sting; generally it’s a bit scary if it’s important 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 bought from our Garmin Fenix GPS watch. We love utilizing our watches for climbing and coaching.

Route description

  • The route begins with a gradual footpath that takes you from the Decrease Cable Automotive station to the Contour 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 whenever you attain the rocky partitions of Desk Mountain you begin scrambling over rocks and ladders. 
  • The final half across the mountain is fairly stress-free on a footpath with one final climb.
  • From the top of the path, it’s one other 700 m on the highest of Desk Mountain to the higher cable automotive 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

For those who’re on the lookout for extra locations to hike in Cape City take a look at Cape Level climbing trails – breathtaking surroundings and unimaginable climbing expertise.

Skeleton Gorge path

  • Distance – 7 km return 
  • Time – 2,5-3,5 hours up and down, relying on how briskly you stroll
  • Complete elevation acquire/loss – 600 m
  • Place to begin – Kirstenbosch Botanical Backyard
  • Ending level (on the highest) – 100 m away from Hely Hutchinson Reservoir.
  • Problem – 3 out of 5
  • Terrain – footpath, stairs, rocks, and boulders (some fairly slippery), picket ladders.
  • Parking – there are two fairly large parking areas inside Kirstenbosch Backyard.

For extra info on the route learn our Skeleton Gorge climbing information.

Skeleton Gorge GPX file

Mountain climbing Desk Mountain by way of the Skeleton Gorge with a information

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 unique route on the finish


  • Stunning Kirstenbosch Backyard; the sky bridge is to not miss right here.
  • Gorgeous 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 picket ladders to overcome.
  • A slippery rocky path that may be a bit tough to stroll down.
Skeleton Gorge hiking trail elevation profile
Elevation profile of the Skeleton Gorge climbing path up and down Desk Mountain

Route description

  • The Skeleton Gorge hike begins contained in the backyard and there are a number of indicators at totally different components of Kirstenbosch indicating the way in which to Skeleton Gorge. 
  • The ascent begins from the start first you go up picket stairs, then on a footpath with occasional rocky steps. 
  • The second half of the path is extra tough and entails climbing over rocks and picket ladders. 
  • The final bit is on a footpath with stairs. 
Wooden ladders are a part of the Table Mountain hiking trail from Kirstenbosch
Lengthy picket 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
  • Complete elevation acquire/loss – 680 m
  • Place to begin – Kloof Nek parking on the turn-off to Tafelberg Highway
  • Ending level (on the highest) – 200 m away from the Diving board
  • Problem – 3 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.

For extra info on the route examine our climbing guides on the Kasteelspoort path and Diagonal path on Desk Mountain.

Kasteelspoort/Diagonal path GPX

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.


  • Gorgeous 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 a tremendous picture 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 highway from Kloof Nek parking. 
  • The primary half is on the Pipe monitor, an easy 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 following break up is at 4,5 km, the left route is the Diagonal path, and the suitable route is the Kasteelspoort path. 
  • For those who 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 climbing path. Quickly after that, you’ll see one other break up the route on the suitable goes down the Kasteelspoort path. 
  • You can begin happening however earlier than testing the Diving board, it’s about 400 m forward on the Previous Cable Automotive station. 
  • The way in which down is kind of straightforward; you simply comply with 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 vital photographed spots!

Maclear’s Beacon path

  • Distance – 5,4 km return
  • Time – 1h30min. – 2 hours, return
  • Complete elevation acquire/loss – 150 m
  • Beginning/ending level – Higher Cable Automotive Station in the direction of Platteklip Gorge
  • Problem – 1 out of 5
  • Terrain – footpath, boardwalks, boulders
  • Parking – alongside Tafelberg Highway close to Decrease Cable Automotive Station

Maclear’s Beacon path GPX


  • Gorgeous views of Cape Level, Hout Bay, Muizenberg, Strand, Gordons Bay, and so forth.
  • Weird rock formations alongside the route.
  • The attractive 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 simple route

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

The route is flat with hardly any ascent or descent. It’s an awesome 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 automotive. 

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 – 4,8 km
  • Time – 1h20min. – 2 hours
  • Complete elevation acquire – 66 m
  • Complete elevation loss – 395 m
  • Place to begin – Higher Cable Automotive station
  • Ending level – the highest of Skeleton Gorge close to Hely Hutchinson Reservoir
  • Problem – 1,5 out of 5
  • Terrain – boulders, boardwalks
Elevation profile of the trail from Platteklip to Skeleton Gorge
Elevation profile of the 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 automotive aspect views. The panorama alongside the path is kind of superb with wired rock formations, slender passages between two rocks, and so forth. 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 should go all the way in which to the gorge you’ll be able to simply stroll just a little bit and switch round. The stroll to Skeleton Gorge and again to the cable automotive 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 part of. The assembly level is close to the exit from the espresso store. Excursions depart every day each hour from 9am to 3pm. These will not be lengthy hikes totally on boardwalks close to the cable automotive station. Through the stroll, you study attention-grabbing info about Desk Mountain and uncover one of the best picture 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 climbing trails, and monuments. One can spend hours if not days strolling and exploring it. In a means 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 climbing Desk Mountain?

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