The weather plays a huge role for this Experience. They don't call it the 'Table Cloth' for nothing. From beginning to end, The Skeleton Gorge Hike is 6.2KM with a climb of almost 1000M. It can take anywhere from 3.5 - 5.5 hours to summit. Make sure to check http://www.tablemountain.net/content/page/rates for up to date cable car times and closures.
There are over fifty different ways to reach the summit of Table Mountain, each offering you a special experience. One of the most popular trails is the Skeleton Gorge, considered a moderate to streneous hike, which starts in the beautiful Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens.
NOTE: I think this hike is difficult. If you want a real challenge, and don't want to spend five hours hiking, take the most popular route up on the Platteklip Gorge. This is the most direct climb to the summit but be warned, it is not for the novice hiker.
There is an entrance fee for the park and unfortunately just passing through for the hike still requires you to fork up the R35. If you were able to get a really early start, we recommend spending some time here, but don't worry if you had a lazy morning, we have another experience dedicated the 'Africa's most beautiful gardens' here.
The hike starts off easy enough strolling through the gardens. Skeleton Gorge is actually comprised of three separate trails: the path from Kirstenbosch Gardens up the Skeleton Gorge ravine, the top of the ravine to Maclear’s Beacon (also known as Smuts Track), and finally the path traversing the vast summit of the Table Mountain plateau to the Cableway station (your route back down).
A big part of the Skeleton Gorge hike is forested, which for some isn't the ideal path up this iconic mountain, but for us Northern Californians, it almost felt like we were back home. This hike will definitely get the blood pumping as you will be on the path up from the very start. Be prepared to climb up ladders and stairs and watch your step, it can get really slippery depending on the weather, or if you decide to take a dip in the waterfall.
I love hikes where the hardest part is in the beginning, and Skeleton Gorge is just that. While the climb up to Maclears Beacon (the highest point of the mountain) is no walk in the park, it's not as difficult as the first part (in our opinion). And bonus, you have the entire plateau of the summit to look forward to.
As if Table Mountain wasn't a shower stopper on its own, the visual beauty from the summit is one of the best gifts The Mother City offers us.
At the end of the hike you will descend down to your saving grace, the cable car! But first, stop at the Table Mountain Cafe for a well deserved snack and a cold beer or glass of wine (we don't want to spoil your appetite). Cheers! You made it! Now is anyone else already thinking about dinner?
(I realize there is no official lunch on this Day, but I promise, dinner will more than make up for it!)