Top 6 activities not to be missed while exploring the Table Mountain National Park
Table Mountain National Park is recognised as being extraordinary in its richness and diversity of both plant and animal life. It offers a large variety of activities that visitors can enjoy while exploring the nature reserve. A majority of the national park is open access; however there are three main points of entry where visitors will need to pay conservation fees, namely; Cape of Good Hope, Boulders Beach and Silvermine.
Anytime spent in this beautiful piece of nature will be time well spent, but to help you navigate your way around, here are my top 6 things to do while in the Table Mountain National Park.
1. Hike up Lions Head
Located at the northern section of the national park, a hike up Lions Head offers visitors a chance to stretch their legs and work off some of the holiday indulgences as you head up the gravel path that twists and winds itself around this iconic section of Table Mountain. Visitors can park at the base of the mountain along the road towards Signal Hill and walk from their car.
There is no entrance fee and visitors are advised to wear comfortable walking shoes and to take water, sun block, a hat, and of course, their cameras. The hike offers magnificent 360° views of Cape Town as you walk around the peak. There are 2 ladders to climb along the way and the more adventurous can climb up a section of chains – there is a way around for those wanting to keep their feet planted to the ground. Once up at the top the views are truly breath-taking.
2. Scenic drive along Signal Hill
Heading up Kloof Nek road one will reach a split in the road where you can go left to the Table Mountain Cable Car, straight down to Camps Bay and Clifton or turn right and drive along a narrow piece of road, past the base of Lions Head, towards Signal Hill.
The drive to the tip of Signal Hill offers beautiful views of Table Mountain, the ocean and the bustling city of Cape Town below - a wonderful way to get a bird's eye perspective of the city. This drive is a great activity to be enjoyed on a beautiful clear day, especially at sunset. Visitors are advised to drive carefully and to not exit their cars at night or if they are alone.
3. Tour up to Table Mountain
On a clear, tranquil day in Cape Town there is no better activity than to head up the Cable Car to the flat top of Table Mountain. A 5 minute ride in the rotating Cable Car will take visitors up to the top of Table Mountain where a 360° view of Cape Town awaits with its bustling city, azure waters and sandy white beaches.
Spend some time wandering around and taking pictures of the views below and the beautiful flora and fauna on the mountain itself. Rock Hyrax (Dassies) are common on the top of the mountain and visitors may enjoy watching their family antics as they skip and jump along the rocks or bathe in the sunshine.
There are two organised guided tours of the mountain that are offered to visitors free of charge, one at 10h00 and one at 12h00 daily. There is also a restaurant where guests can enjoy some refreshments. Many visitors enjoy taking the cable car up and then hiking down the mountain or vice versa.
4. Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens are located on the eastern slopes of Table Mountain and cover 36 hectares of protected mountainside. The gardens are filled with a rich diversity of plant and bird species and visitors to the popular attraction can enjoy a walk through the different sections of the park, a picnic on the rolling lawns or a delicious meal at the restaurant. Live music concerts are held on Sunday evenings in summertime and are a wonderful way to soak up the sunshine and enjoy some of South Africa's culture and music.
5. Boulders Beach
One should not miss the opportunity to explore Boulders Beach while in the Cape Town area. Part of the Table Mountain National Park, Boulders Beach offers visitors the opportunity to explore a dunes and coastline along wooden walkways in search of the friendly black and white characters, the African Penguins that are found here. Located just around the corner from Simons Town, on your way to Cape Point, the Boulders Beach colony is a must-do activity.
6. Cape Point
Cape Point is located at the tip of the Cape Peninsula, 60 kilometres (37.2 miles) from the city of Cape Town. Cape Point is a fantastic destination for a day out exploring and offers the visitors the opportunity to enjoy some gameviewing, bird watching, Whale watching and hiking. There are a number of different animals in the reserve including Zebra, Eland and Baboons and the birdlife is spectacular with over 250 different species of birds being found in the nature park alone.
Day visitors can also enjoy a trip up to the viewpoint below the lighthouse in the Flying Dutchman funicular or a picnic at one of the picnic spots dotted throughout the reserve. Stop for a light lunch at the Two Oceans Restaurant while overlooking the crashing waves and perhaps watching a Whale play in the water below.